An Extra Companion in Bed at Night

The morning sun peaked through the cracks of our bedroom curtains.

“Morning already?”

The last thing I remember was rolling onto my side for sleep at the end of a long day.

My days were long because I homeschooled four kids as we adjusted to life back in the USA. Our family still grieved the farewells to Venezuela. It was difficult to let go of so many dear friends.

Although we let go of a life we loved, we held onto a few companions for our next adventure. We returned with our companion of conviction to live with a mission. And we kept our new vision to see things differently. Perseverance and courage also traveled back to strengthen us for the new season.

There was another companion, though, who became part of our Venezuela life who I thought we left behind. His name was Hyper-vigilance.

Crime was high for everyone in Venezuela. So he was always there, keeping me watchful for anything suspicious. At first I resisted his help. I was slow to welcome him into our new Venezuelan lifestyle, but quickly I realized his value.

In Venezuela he went with me to the grocery store, accompanied me when I took the kids to a park, and was present when I walked across a parking lot. He assured me it was worth arming the four anti-theft devices on the car before running into the meat store to pick up some beef.

At home he reminded me to lock the gates, all four of them. And he made me look when I heard a strange noise or saw an unwelcome shadow.

At nighttime he kept me on high alert too.  I woke up constantly with the faintest sound that interrupted the stillness of the night. Since we slept with the windows open, there were lots of sounds. Our sleep was interrupted often, but more than once it wasn’t the neighbors. It was helpful that Hyper-Vigilance kept us alert.

Hyper-vigilance became such a routine part of my life that I almost forgot he was there. I didn’t realize how much he affected everything I did, all day and night.

I was so comfortable with him that I didn’t even notice that he returned to the states with us. I assumed that Hyper-vigilance would remain in Venezuela because that’s where he was needed. He was one companion that I was eager to let go of, because truthfully, he was draining.

In the US, we live in a safe neighborhood, crime is low and our family doesn’t stand out like we did in Venezuela. I only lock one door when we leave the house and the car is ready to go with the click of one button.

But Hyper-vigilance wasn’t ready to let go. He still reminded me to be careful. He nudged me to over-react to the stranger approaching me in the parking lot. And he made me suspicious of the man who helped me at Wal-Mart.

And Hyper-vigilance kept me vigilant through the night.

At first I thought it was the mother instinct that woke me —always on alert for a child in need. But honestly, our kids were past that stage. If they needed me, they came into the room and woke me with a tap.

I also wondered if the new noises woke me. But our neighborhood was quiet. The walls crackled at night, and that was about it.

Eventually I realized that if Hyper-Vigilance still accompanied me in the day, he was the one still waking me at night.

That’s why I was so surprised to see the morning sun peaking through the curtains. It was the first time I woke up since I fell asleep the night before. The dancing sun rays on the wall announced a solid night of restful sleep. It was the first time I slept through the night in a long, long time.

And it felt oh, so good.

I began the day with that familiar feeling after one of our babies slept through the night for the first time—so excited, yet cautious not to get my hopes up that this would become the new normal. It was possibly just a fluke.

Soon a solid night of sleep became normal.

I dared to believe that Hyper-Vigilance was finally ready to let go of our family. Occasionally he showed up—like when my 7 year old panicked because we left the bikes in the backyard instead of locked up in the garage. Or when my heart accelerated when the salesman knocked on the door.

But eventually, Hyper-Vigilance was gone. We are still vigilant, just not hyper-vigilant.

There was no formal farewell. He just slipped out.

Honestly, I’m not sure if he was the one who wouldn’t leave, or if I was the one holding on. Maybe I was slow to let him go just like I was slow to welcome him. We became so comfortable together that I held onto him as naturally as I held onto my pillow at night. I think I was the one who needed slow convincing that I didn’t need him anymore.

The good news is that Hyper-Vigilance finally left.

Sleep is deep and sweet.

And dancing rays of sunshine wake me in the morning.

What wakes you up at night?

Have you forgotten what it’s like to have a solid night of sleep?

11 Comments

  1. M'Lynn January 26, 2017

    I enjoyed this post and your perspective. Thanks to reading this I’m now asking myself the question: what am I holding on to from my life in China that was necessary there but not needed here? I don’t think I’ve thought a whole lot about that one. I am enjoying continuing to try and keep a pedestrian lifestyle whenever possible, pushing the stroller around the small town where we live instead of jumping in the car to drive 6 blocks…but that could at times be unnecessary, especially when the wind blows 50 mph (NOT joking!!) or it’s raining and there’s a good stretch of muddy road between me and my day’s destination. So there is an acceptable time to put aside my stubborn resolve to hold on to my pedestrian lifestyle and instead find a healthy balance!

    1. Frances Green January 26, 2017

      You’re right…some things are worth holding on to, and others are not. I’ve found that some things are intentional, and others happen without us realizing it. The pedestrian lifestyle is a great example! Thanks for sharing.Good luck with that wind!

  2. When Hyper-Vigilance isn't ready to let go - The GREENhouse January 26, 2017

    […] This week their theme is “sleep”, so I’ve shared a little about an unwanted sleeping companion who joined me while we lived in Venezuela–and didn’t want to leave when we returned to the states. I’ll get you started here on the post, then you can finish it up at Velvet Ashes… […]

  3. Jeana January 29, 2017

    Hi Frances!
    I always enjoy reading your posts! Thank you for sharing! I am a friend of your precious sister!

    1. Frances Green January 30, 2017

      Thanks, Jeana! I’m glad they are an encouragement to you. And I’m really glad you and my sis are friends on the other side of the world!

  4. Jules February 2, 2017

    So THAT’S his name…hypervigilance. Man, what a punk! I haven’t slept through the night in nearly 6 years. 3 kids under 6, middle east, new neighborhood. Hearing every bump, thump and click. The thought that someday he’ll be gone is comforting!

  5. LaRae February 3, 2017

    Thank you for the reminder that sleep will come again. Between a son that did not sleep through the night until he was almost seven, a new baby (now a toddler), several moves, sleep is hard to come by these days. This last international move I used Melatonin for the whole family. Wow! The best sleep I’ve had in years and the easiest trans-Atlantic move or trip ever!

    1. Frances Green February 3, 2017

      Way to go for being proactive on finding sleep through the international move!

      Yes, it seems that sleep ebbs and flows with our seasons of life–something I didn’t think of before. And some seasons last longer than others–and longer than we’d like. 🙂 May you be blessed with rest and perseverance!

  6. Ellie February 11, 2017

    oh yes I hear you…! And I wish I didn’t know what you were talking about.. I’m tired. Tired of waking up at night with the faintest sound. In a safe area where I (and the kids) blend in. Thanks for putting your finger on it. Hoping he can move out of here soon too! Blessings Frances. x

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