Decent sleep has always eluded me, or so it seems. Before that awful school, did sleep come pleasantly welcomed? I cannot remember. Perhaps it did. But later, and forever, no sleep that is not troubled by terrible dreams has ever come to me.
So it was last night, all night long, as one trial or torment or tribulation after another afflicted my miserable slumbers with dreams and nightmares of troubles and conflicts and perplexities. I do not catalogue these dreams. I do not even look upon them later, when awake, other than to acknowledge their mere occurring, for to dwell upon their content and rehearse their narratives and outcomes would etch them upon my memory sufficiently, I fear, to have them reappear at odd moments unbidden and irritating and fearful, later that day and in days to come. Some few dreams that I had years ago, or in childhood, still come back to me, every few days, every few weeks at least, and I am desperate not to add to their stock.
So upon waking with the recollections of new dreams tumbling about me, I turn quickly to some practical matter in the hope of banishing them quickly – getting dressed, boiling the kettle, checking for mail, stalking the message boards for evil to fight. And it works. Ask me now to give examples of my bad dreams, and other than those few old ones just mentioned, I cannot. My night-crumpled memories are all smoothed out by the time I settle down to my reading or writing or lyre playing. I know only their broad brushstrokes. I see no Mona Lisa, but mere portrait. No details of any Guernica, but mayhem… I see now just general descriptions of arguments, frustrations, searchings, fleeings, confrontings … just the topic headings, but no explanatory content.
But now, today, after less than four hours sleep riddled by nightmares now thankfully beyond recall, I am tired and sleepy, and my concentration flaps about my intellectual efforts like a wet sheet tied at one corner thrashing in the wind, and hope of engaging with interesting books or writing something cannot be awakened. If this account makes any sense, that is because I have worked at it over the days, struggling to capture the sense of what I want to convey, struggling to find interesting words and a way to make agreeable phrases, to congeal these confused thoughts into some kind of self-supporting structure that shelters this tiny aspect of what populates my lifelong despair. Not for sympathy, not for any clear reason at all, really. I would like to put a few nails through the human condition, to pin it down so that others may say, ‘Yes. That is how it is. That is what happens to me. Here is something familiar, though loathsome…’
I do not want to be on my own.