The Jitters, Or, The Nightmares Cometh

The Stuff of Dreams…

It happens every now and again. Sometimes I have a bad day at work. Or a mistake I made that I can’t let go. Something’s looming on the horizon and I obsess about it. Or my brain simply won’t shut up, no matter what I do or try not to dwell upon.

It’s a case of The Jitters, I’m afraid. And I have it BAD.

Somewhere around November it started. It all began with a grant I’m working on. It’s a big one, a Federal grant worth several million dollars. Lots of logistics to get straight. Highly competitive. Yet, if it’s awarded, it’ll redefine my workplace and my job. So I’ve been obsessing over every single tiny detail that goes into this grant. Its purpose is to provide meaningful jobs to those who are marginalized by society. There’s a lot at stake here, not just for my work but for so many who really need a second, third or twentieth chance at getting ahead.

Then, of course, the holidays come around, as they’re known to do. My son came up and was his usual breezy self. After a few days here, he went up north to visit family. Not all of it went well. He met with some estranged relations who presented him with challenges he neither sought nor wanted. That, and his car died. He called me several times, completely stressed out, not knowing what to do. Tried to counsel him with whatever advice I could, not that he accepted it, but at least he listened.

Running in the background was omicron. Around where I live, active cases are going up in the hundreds daily. Now over 1300+ cases a day are infecting people in my county. They’re taking mostly the unvaccinated, with a vast majority in their 30s and 40s. Vaccinated and boosted people have been getting mild symptoms or asymptomatic. Yet it’s these people who refuse to wear a mask, using their misguided beliefs that this is all a political thing to rip away rights and liberties. Sure, no one will stop you from your death wish. Just don’t inflict it on those who want to remain alive. And that leads to…

Isolation once again. Stuck inside, donning my KN95 when grocery shopping, and doing precious little else. Way too cold to go for my outdoor morning walk. Working from home might keep me safe, but it also keeps me alone.

I have a big birthday next month. I’ve been dreading it. Mind you, I’m in excellent health and fit. Facing the prospect of fewer summers ahead frightens me. Sure, I can give what I’ve got left more meaning, and I try, I really do. But it’s so hard to go on Facebook and see all those happy families with their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews gathered about, celebrating joyously all sorts of events. Meanwhile. my husband is gone, my son’s in the Navy, my sister lives 120 miles away and no one else is near. I do have friends but they’ve got their own lives. They’re isolating too.

When head hits the pillow at night, I struggle to sleep. There’s this misguided notion that if I fall asleep, I won’t wake up. Some dreams are awful, or they’re just plain old weird. Kind of entertaining, at least. Like the one where I’m riding a tramcar to the Jersey Shore. A cable takes this tramcar over water to the land, where it magically turns into a bus. The driver is a middle-aged man who wants to be my friend. Not romantically, but be a pal. A buddy. He’s inviting me to a party that seems to be in my grandparent’s house, but I have to go pick up someone first. I ride a toy car that’s gold. It turns into the living room of a person I don’t yet know, but I discover it’s a woman. Behind her couch is a sheet of plastic held in place by a wooden garden lattice. She’s on the other side of it. Once she removes it, I see what appears to be her bedroom. One wall looks just like a dressing room from a theater, with a long shelf filled with hair and makeup products, plus lit mirrors. She’s getting ready to come to the party where I’ve been invited and don’t know anyone. Then I wake up.

This happens four, sometimes five times a night. Drop off, dream, wake up, drop off, dream, wake up…and then the alarm. Not very restful.

So I’ve got The Jitters. And I feel like the day is a nightmare.

All of this has interfered with my writing. I’ve got to finish this latest draft of my manuscript. Yet I stare at the pages with no creative thoughts whatsoever. The one thing that should be my escape is causing even more anxiety. Tears streamed down my face because my creative self neglected find another word for “comrade.” I felt as though I should give up.

So I assess my situation for what it is: nothing serious. I have a home. I have a job. My bills are paid. There’s food in the fridge and on the table. A car in the driveway with gas in the tank. Heat keeps me warm. A new snowblower will guarantee that there will be no lasting winter weather that will give me the opportunity to use it.

In short, I have nothing to complain about. Really.

Whatever I’m going through, it will pass. That downward spiral is only present because I’ve allowed it. Once I acknowledge my brain is going on overdrive, I need to slam on the brakes.

Hard work lies ahead to shape my future. Nothing worth treasuring ever comes easy. All I have to do is believe it’s possible.

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