For use when:
You’ve just used your best friend’s Hulu password to binge-watch 3 hours of Steven Universe, and it was so queer and beautiful it made you cry, and now it’s 2 AM and you’re exhausted and it’s time to sleep, and but one of the episodes showed a character so lost in conspiracy theories that they couldn’t function without the sense of self-importance tied to their obviously false belief, their whole identity wrapped up in self-delusion, which everybody else could see and decided to humor out of pity, and oh god what if that’s you? What if magic is papier-mâché pasted sloppily over the void? What if this isn’t real, what if you’re deluding yourself, what if one good clear real look at your life without the self-important veneer of purpose and belief you’re just barely able to keep in place would be enough to floor you, break you, spiral you back to your Dark Place? The place that you’re always convinced you’re leaving, that you’ve left, but that always finds its way back to you, a slow stain spreading on the map of your life? Because look: you’re depressed, you struggle most days to leave the house if not the bed, you’re here in bed now freaking out about a children’s TV show, and what if that’s all there is to you? To your story? What if you’ll never have the energy to do and be and live the way you want to, the way you would if you were better, if you were good? What if depression wins, and it’s your fault for letting it win, for not being better and stronger and made of something solid, instead of this weighted fluid sack that slips as far down into any container as it can? What if this time the fog never lifts? What if it’s actually never lifted before? What if it’s not fog? What if it’s just you?
You’ll be asleep soon, one way or another. The light is on; you are lonely and sad. Turning off the light will not stop you from being lonely and sad, but it will help you sleep better, will make the morning more possible. Will remind you that you did something small to care for yourself while you were lonely and sad, which means something in you exists outside the lonely sadness, can see it and sit with it and also see and sit with your future self, who will either sleep through the night or wake up from the light, who might, maybe, be proud and thankful to wake up rested to the sun instead, if that’s something you can manage to make happen.
Turning off the lights - making your body real, moving it off the bed and onto the floor and through space and to the wall and back - that’s not feeling super doable right now. You’re exhausted, drained, depressed, can’t handle more than waiting for sleep to come. You’ve played out this script before, and the light has always stayed on.
Make a spell of it. If it can’t be possible, make it magic instead.
1) Find a stone. This, at least, is easy - you’ve taken to falling asleep with small stones in hand, balanced on your chest, on your stomach, a comforting weight. You don’t even have to open your eyes. Just brush your hand around the sheets in circles until they find something hard and friendly.
2) Hold the stone. Ask it (in your head is fine, no need to speak): Will you help me love me? You’re still not sure about this ‘magical stones’ thing, whether they just feel comforting because they’re cool and hard and made of something solid or whether there’s something deeper going on there, but they do feel comforting, and that’s what matters right now. Ask it: it found your hand, so it will probably say yes, in its way, and maybe it will help you just to ask, to take the full burden of self-love off this body you’re struggling to move, to invite the possibility that another body might be willing to do a bit of the loving for you.
3) What do you want, right now? Name it. It might help to speak it out loud, but if you’re worried your roommates will hear, whispering or mouthing or just thinking is fine. If you can’t say it to yourself, say it to the stone, say it to the stars, which you can’t see through the blinds, which you couldn’t see anyways through the clouds and the city lights, but which are there. Name what you want. Name your desire as intention: “May I have...” Big, small, concrete, abstract. Connection, intimacy, strength, rest, chocolate, one goddamn day where you don’t have to ration out your energy, where you don’t have to choose between doing the laundry or cooking dinner or actually making it out the front door. Keep naming. Keep setting intentions. It’s ok if the things you want feel impossible. It’s ok if this makes you cry. Name what you want to your tears.
4) Tell yourself - or the stone, the stars, the salty trails drying on your cheeks - that you are worthy of having these desires you’ve named fulfilled. Each of them, all of them: you are worthy. Don’t worry about believing it. Just say it. Think it. Name your worth. It’s ok if this makes you cry.
5) Tell yourself: whether I can have these things or not, whether I am worthy of them or not, I am worthy, at least, of sleeping through the night. I am worthy, at least, of giving myself that gift. Don’t worry about believing it. Just say it.
6) Imagine someone you love. They may feel distant right now, the thought of them may sharpen the teeth of your loneliness, may make you cry: that’s okay. Imagine them anyways. Imagine them trying to sleep. Their light is on. You love them; you want them to sleep through the night. It would be so simple, to turn off the light for them. So simple, no matter how tired you were, to give them that small kindness.
7) Give them that small kindness. Pretend that you are the person you love, needing you to turn the lights off to sleep soundly. Imagine it. Imagine it so thoroughly that you do it - that you find yourself moving through space across the room, your body real, the wall right there, the light now off. Return to the bed. Be the person you love.
8) See if you can give yourself one last kindness before falling asleep. You learned, just the other night, about dream as time to work through and explore the questions of the spirit. You learned about setting intentions for your sleep, choosing how to engage your dreams. You have taken this to mean that even your sleep must be either productive or wrong, glowing with magic or an opportunity lost – you have taken this to mean that even your rest must be work. Give yourself a great and tiny kindness: set this intention: I do not need to work tonight. I am allowed to rest. May I rest.