i’m done with struggle

stay-cation day #4. slept 10 hrs. woke at 6:30 am, saw that i hadn’t slept long enough to guarantee a good day, so i rolled over, and slept till 9:15.  that’s better.

What follows here isn’t terribly interesting, unless you’re me.

But after nearly 8 years of marriage, my husband and i are now (finally) sleeping in separate beds.

I’m an unusually light sleeper, have been since childhood. My mother says i’d wake if an ant farted a block away. As a tiny baby, my parents had to give up “checking in on me” before they went to bed, because to touch the door handle was to wake me… If you combine this genetic predisposition (because my entire extended family (paternal) is unfortunately like this, super sensitive to sound, crappy sleepers, my parents don’t sleep in the same bed) — if you combine ME with a really tall man, who just happens to snore and thrash (like the members of his maternal side of the family, they’re all shakers-and-bakers when they sleep, and Mr. Belle’s parents don’t sleep in the same bed either) — well if you put ME and HIM together in a bed, no matter how large, one of us is going to be awakened 4-6 times per night.  That person would be me.

now that i’m sober, and most days are good days, i’ve really been finding the tired days harder to tolerate.  when i was drinking, I guess i was used to being tired all the time, was used to feeling 50% shitty most days. At nearly 11 months sober, I quite like feeling good.  and i HATE it when i feel sooo tired from Mr. Belle’s thrashing. he wakes in the morning, takes one look at my face, and he knows that he has tortured me all night.

And part of the reason i’ve been doing the 24-hr mini-vacations alone in a hotel has been simply to get one solidly good night’s sleep per month.

So about two weeks ago i asked if we could try an experiment.  i had been tired for a month it seemed. I asked if i could sleep alone for awhile, just to see … and after two nights i felt remarkably better.  dramatically different.  Since then we’ve been playing it a bit by ear each night. We go to bed together, read, talk, plan the next day.  and then he goes to the other room or stays, depending on general levels of tiredness, and what I have going on the next day.

Yes, I am able to get work done when i haven’t slept well.  Yes, I’m able to set my alarm and get up for catering after 5 hrs sleep.  But i hate my life when that happens.  It feels like pushing a truck uphill.  It makes everything feel ten times harder than it really is.  If i have a Booze Wolfie that talks shit about booze, then I also have an Exhaustion Wolf that comes out when i’m tired, and he says “you’re behind, you’re never going to catch up, your stuff isn’t good enough, why bother trying. This is all too hard, this is supposed to be your passion job.  you should quit this, you should stop doing this.  This is too hard.”

on the other hand, when i have had enough sleep, I can get up early, do the catering, and have NONE of that noise in my head. Nothing. Some mornings i even forget to turn on the radio, and i work for hours in silence without even noticing.  I just do my thing.  I work without STRUGGLE.

so me? i pick sleep. I’m going into this next phase of sober life with enough sleep. I’m giving up the idealized version of a married couple sleeping in the same bed, because it just doesn’t work for us.  It didn’t for my parents or his parents either.  I am no longer holding myself to ridiculous ideas of what is ‘good’ when it doesn’t work. (i used to think that if we didn’t in the same bed, that it was a slippery slope to divorce. just cuz.) Now I pick sleep, and i am packing up this idea of struggle and i’m putting it out with the recycling. i’m just not interested in struggle any more.  (there was a certain level of chaos and dysfunction i could tolerate when drinking that I just can’t do any more.) and yes I CAN make myself work when i’m tired … but why do it that way?  Why not, instead, give myself the very lovely gift of a good night’s sleep.  and I thankfully have a husband who’s more interested in a happy wife than which bed he sleeps in.  And, to quote him, he says “it doesn’t matter which bed i’m in.  i’m asleep.”

sleep.  makes my life possible without struggle.  makes me feel even.  it can be raining but if i’ve had enough sleep i don’t seem to care.  When i’m tired, everything seems hard. very very hard. and not worth it.  When i’m tired, i surf the web and find all the information and possibilities overwhelming.  I see people blogging recipes daily and i think “i can’t do that, i could never do that, it’s all too much, i should give up.” on the other hand, when i’ve had enough sleep, I see someone blogging their recipes daily and i think — well, she does her thing, and I do my thing.  (And frankly, my thing earns money and hers is sort of like mental masturbation).

I’m done with struggle.  I’m cutting open the box of struggle, i’m squishing sides flat, and i’m putting it out for recycling.  someone else can take home my struggle if they want it. I’ve been carrying it for a long time. 37 years probably. i seem to want to cry as i write that.  since i’ve been 9 years old, my life has been too hard for me.  in my new, happier life, i am sober, happily married, earning money, and i’m finally finally getting enough sleep.  i never would have done this if i was still drinking.

i’m done with struggle. you?

Team 100 update: KC (30), Malia (30), Kriss (30), Rachel (10), Debbie (7), Tammy (50), JMM (20).


I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • thank you for writing about sleep, sleep struggles, sleep struggles while sober, and sleeping in separate beds/rooms!
    I wish I read this 3 months ago!
    I have been with my husband for 10 years, he snores – I wake up when an ant farts 2 blocks away. I would often drink a little bit more than I needed to ensure that I would fall asleep, heavy enough, to sleep through his snoring. I have had terrible sleeps for 10 years.
    Until 3 months ago when I found this blog and your audios (and audiobook!) and I stopped drinking. I COULD NOT sleep in the same bed/room as my husband while sober. So we have been in separate rooms since then and I too thought that this was a slippery slope toward divorce. But we are both happier and now reading about your experience, I am reassured that I am not alone or crazy. Sober is better. Better sleep in my own bed, without a snoring husband is better. I am happy. And if I’m happy, so is the rest of my family:)

  • Excellent. Sleep deprivation is an old Nemesis of mine, too. At 3 months clean, I became a first-time, single Mom. You can fill in the blanks.
    I like that you said you’re done with the STRUGGLE, b/c the Big Book says we have ceased struggling/fighting with anyone and anything. Getting into the SOLUTION is absolutely critical to maintaining life w/o our (sedative of choice). Blessings!

    • Abbie, I love this. I didn’t know there were rules about struggle … good to know! get rid of it all costs. find a solution, move on. Thanks so much for this insight.

  • It took many years before I finally realized that separate blankets did not mean that we were incompatible at all, just needed different amounts of nighttime coverings. It has changed our lives for the better in ways that one wouldn’t think were even related and yet…

    Struggle-my sister and I call it Crap and we strive to be Crapless as often as we conceivably can. We recognize in each other when we start to get enmeshed and are able to gently remind each other that Crapless is the preferred state of existence. We have both been sober for decades. Or we’d have been dead by now-either of our own hands or that of abusive relationships.

    Congrats to all you who are making this journey–I wish you a lifetime of sober and fulfilling moments and eons of self-discovery.

    • thanks for this lynda. if my husband and I could have single beds with separate sheets but joined at the headboard (like we have on some European vacations) then we’d be in heaven. until then, we’re doing the best with what we have, and we DO have a separate single daybed in the office, so that’s what we’re doing… I love your idea of being crapless. no struggle, no drama. just regular life, regular folks, doing regular things.

  • CONGRATULATIONS! I know we’ve been talking about this, and I think you absolutely made the right choice. I want to do the same thing – my husband is the one who had a harder time sleeping, but he’s totally a disruptive sleeper to me. He needs FIVE pillows, and when he falls asleep, he doesn’t want any covers, so they all go on my side. Then when he gets cold later, he pulls them from me, and the result is a whacked-out, sloppy mess of a bed. I just want a PEACEFUL bed. When we had our last house, we had a king. Now we have a eeny tiny queen (it feels like it). We don’t have the luxury of another room, but we are looking for a king. That will work for me – and we have to ignore the brady bunch calm bedroom ideal and do what works!! Congratulations!!
    (although, I love the idea of a hotel one night a month – I’m going a work trip for two nights in a hotel and I can hardly wait!!!!!!!!)

  • My husband was just talking about his grandparents who were married 50+ years and slept in separate rooms for all the years he knew them. I don’t know the reason, but they were very close and often together when they were awake.

    I can 100% relate to how you say you feel when you’re tired. I feel beyond miserable when I get a poor night’s sleep. It reminds me too much of being hungover. I can’t wait for the day to be over the moment I get out of bed. I had enough of feeling that way when I drank.

    You’re taking care of yourself, and I’m happy to hear it.

  • I am happy for you that you are getting enough sleep and that your hubby is agreeing to assist in that area. I am the one who snores in the family, not every night, can’t associate it with anything that I eat or drink just happens. Hubby puts up with me, wears ear plugs when it gets bad. I feel badly about this as he is the one who has to get up early. He would never agree to sleeping separately. Glad that this is working out for you. Hubby is very easy going and never complains.
    I should not feel badly about it, it just is and I can’t help it.

  • oh boy do I relate to this- I have used ear plugs but they don’t work all the time and I am sensitive to light. We have what we call the little bed and either my husband or I will use it from time to time. A good nights rest makes you feel like you CAN. Going around in a fog is not optimum. I have found though after about a week of bad sleep I can sleep in any conditions. Last night there was a neighborhood festival going on, my son was home from college and watching TV in the next room with husband, my daughter had a friend over to “study” while playing music loudly and then running around the house at one point and slamming doors. Why didn’t I get up to scream?- well I gave up that struggle- and I actually did get some sleep last night. Anyhow- good for you. 6-7-8 or more hours of sweet oblivion. I hope you get that every night!

  • Belle I think the decision is a great one! I have a friend who sleeps in separate rooms from her hubby because he snores so loud (she’s on the main floor and his room is downstairs). I guess it happens more than we think. I’ve been sleeping alone now for 10 years since I divorced and also a light sleeper – not sure how I’d fare out with having a partner in bed on a regular basis.

    As for letting go of the struggle – I agree… no one needs it.