Do you have trouble sleeping alone?
In the house, I mean. For many people, an evening alone in the house means many hours of sleeplessness, full of tossing and turning and things that go bump in the night. Lying awake at 3:15 AM, trying to remember where the closest "weapon" is while desperately attempting to determine whether the shadow on the wall is a blood thirsty maniac or a pile of dirty laundry is no fun at all. The real question is, how does this happen?
At some point in our lives most of us will live "alone" in some way or another. Whether it's in a dorm room or in our own first apartment, or even the first time your folks go away on vacation and leave you without adult supervision, at some point we all spend a night alone. And many of us delighted in that first bit of independence. So how is it that, once we are partnered off, so many of us get the jitters when our significant others will be away over night?
I remember when my husband was getting ready to leave for Depot; so many people asked me if I was nervous to be by myself at night. I honestly wasn't; if anything I was more nervous about the expanse of non-sleeping hours I would have to fill without my best friend. Loneliness was a bigger concern of mine than bogeymen (I did, after all, have great faith in Molly the Wonder Dog to protect me). However, until we are put to the test, even the bravest of us don't know how well we will fare alone in the dark.
The first night alone was a little sad, but I was tired after the stress of the day and, after a few sniffles, I fell asleep with Molly tucked warmly behind my knees. I still maintain, even to the non-pet people out there, that you will never be that lonely if you have pet. Dogs in particular are wonderful buddies. It doesn't matter if you leave the house for 5 days or 5 minutes, your dog will be thrilled to bits to see you come in the door and a hero's homecoming will be your reward. Dogs also make you feel secure. Molly may not look very fierce, but she is blessed / cursed with a hideous howl, and no intruder would want to risk facing the beast that should accompany it. In truth, Molly sounds the same saying hello as she does sounding the alarm, but Bob the Burglar doesn't need to know that.
As the days and weeks wore on, we grew accustomed to our new family structure and we developed a routine to get through our days and nights. I've always relied on my husband to "count down" how much time I had left to get ready, and I am (apparently) difficult to get out of bed. I will admit to being inordinately fond of the snooze button. Molly prefers to do her daily deeds for me, while on a walk. And so we worked out a schedule that, most nights, has us in bed by 11:00, and up by six in case she needed a quick walk up the street. After work, I would come home, get Molly into her coat and leash and we would go for a walk around our neighborhood in Sydney's Northend. Then it was home for supper and snuggles on the sofa while we watched TV or read, and waited for our evening call from Regina. We were both very lucky to have friends living in the apartment below who took care of Molly during the day.
During the first few nights of our new life, I kept pretty much to "my" side of the bed. One night, however, I couldn't get comfortable, and in the course of my tossing and turning flopped onto my back in the middle of the mattress. Ahhhhh...perfect. Molly seemed to agree; one night I woke up to find her spreadeagled on her back at the end of the bed, legs in the air, head thrown back, snoring softly. I began to wonder where we would put my husband when he got back?
And so, no, I didn't have any trouble sleeping alone while he was away. And we were able to accommodate him upon his return and on our travels across Canada. There was one hurdle left to cross, however; his first night shift. It was one thing to doze off in an apartment building with friends below and neighbors I knew all around me, while he was safe in a dorm in Regina. It was another thing entirely to face the night in a strange house in a strange town, in a different time zone even, while my husband fought the forces of evil!!!
I stayed up late, to tire myself out. Eventually, with heavy eyelids, I made my way to our room, where Molly was already sleeping soundly, dreaming puppy dreams. I got myself settled and for one brief moment allowed my mind to go to that scary place. Were those sirens I heard? I gave myself a mental shake. I summoned up all the advice I'd been given by other Mountie wives and Mountie mothers for this very moment, told myself he was having a coffee in the break room and NOTHING ELSE, and turned over and went to sleep.
More on the quest for rest on Wednesday! If you have a tip or story to share on facing the night alone, please share in the comments! In the meantime...