In college, I didn’t sleep very much. Or well. The multifaceted explanation for this includes the following: awful roommates who insisted on playing Dance Dance Revolution and listening to Rob Zombie most nights until at least five a.m.; my own propensity toward over-drinking alcohol and under-drinking water; an absurd work, class, study, social schedule which required each day to have between twenty-seven and thirty-one hours, at least.
I really like sleeping.
I feel a grave injustice is being done to me when I am robbed of my sleep.
My sleep feels a grave injustice is being done to it, too, when I do not spend enough time with it.
So– and I’m sure this has happened to you, too– my sleep punished me by making me forget, entirely, who I am upon waking. The sensation’s duration varies. Sometimes it’s just a passing moment, sometimes it’s the entirety of my sophomore year in high school.
Forgetting who you are is pretty weird. Remembering it is even worse.
I’m a pretty existential person. I’ve even declared it as my religious affiliation on Facebook. That’s serious. But when an existentialist is punched in the kidney by an existential situation, it gets intense. Try showing Jesus to a catholic, and see how calmly they react.
There are entire online communities committed to supporting long-term sufferers of this off-putting thing, which, apparently is called “Depersonalization.” Feeling irreversibly disconnected from yourself, for a minute or a year, is definitely worth devoting an online community to. But there are online communities for cat paw-print painting, diarrhea documenting and “baby’s first absolutely everything.” I just made all of those up. But I’m sure they exist.
When I was teeny tiny, too small to look for internet forums and seek empathy, so small I could run around shirtless and if the pictures got online it would be “awwww” and not “awwww yeahhhhh” (for most people), so small that actually the internet didn’t really exist as “The Internet” yet and now I feel old dammit.
I was this small:
What a little rugrat, huh? Anywho, I was this tiny when reality first evaded me.
Being that small and losing track of yourself is almost as scary as being that small and losing track of your teddy bear, which is TERRIFYING. So, to soothe myself, I developed a weird habit for a four-year-old. Or, anyone. I narrated my life internally.
All the time.
“Hannah got out of bed and walked to the bathroom. She couldn’t find her shoe and it was night.”
Talking about yourself in third person is only ever lame or weird, and being four doesn’t make it cute. It makes it that much more insane. The most insane part of it was, I got so busy narrating in my head, that I couldn’t fall asleep. And since I was a toddler, all I could think to do was cry. So I did. And then my mom would read me Goodnight Moon and usually I’d fall asleep so everything turned out pretty alright.
But I digress.
Exhaustion makes us act weird, no matter how old we are. Yesterday I bought three miniature notebooks with the motivation of putting them in my purse and writing down my thoughts so I don’t forget them. If I hadn’t been tired, I would have realized that a. I don’t have a purse, b. I don’t hand-write things, ever or, c. the notebooks are filled with graph paper and completely useless to anyone who prefers words over numbers.
And as for the whole “losing touch with who I am” sensation: I think it’s pretty hyperbolic. When I was four, I wasn’t anybody. The world was just weird because every day I got bigger and it stayed the same size. And as a teenager, who has any idea what anything is when they’re a teenager? When was the last time “finding yourself” and “being a teenager” weren’t synonymous?
Probably all the time before the nineteen-sixties, actually.
I think my overarching point– if one exists, which it may be a stretch to argue– is that, even if I wake up at four a.m. and don’t remember who I am, I’m still the same person. And reading Goodnight Moon will usually remind me who that person may or may not be.