I couldn't sleep because too many negative thoughts in my mind were bouncing off each other, making me feel jostled. The chaotic feeling frustrated me and kept me awake.
I kicked myself for staying up too late. I kicked myself that the reason I stayed up too late was because I was looking for misplaced tax documents all evening. I found the documents before going to bed, but that simple fact didn't stop my ricocheting thoughts.
I kicked myself for not having the paperwork properly filed. I kicked myself for speaking to my kids in a sharp tone yesterday. I kicked myself for missing an opportunity to be kind to a new neighbor last week. I kicked myself for forgetting to buy cat food and for once again mailing my sister's birthday card late.
I entered that dark middle-of-the-night zone and where I exaggerate my faults and image worse-case scenarios. I told myself:
Our tax accountant will yell at me for my documents not being in chronological order and will refuse to do my taxes but won't tell me until April 14 and then I won't have the proper forms or the know-how to fill them out and I won't be prepared with a stamp to mail the envelope because I always run out of stamps and then we'll get hit with a big fat penalty we can't afford and I will have to get a full-time job or maybe two jobs and I won't be able to stay home with the kids anymore and my kids will go to school and I will never see them because I will be working two jobs and we'll become estranged and because of that they won't visit me when they are older and I won't get to see any grandkids I might have in the future all because I misplaced some tax documents tonight.I really want to spend time with my grandkids someday and I was heartbroken that I won't.
Crazy. Crazy, irrational thoughts. Be gone!
Then, I had an epiphany.
I am currently reading the book 1493 by Charles Mann and I'm thoroughly enjoying this history book. I told myself there in bed, "Narrate what you've read."
I forced myself to think about how the book opens. I focused my mind to go through world history as the author unfolds it and to remember details that fascinated me when I read them. When my thoughts wandered, I stopped them and brought them back to the book like a mom takes the hand of a wandering toddler to guide him back in place.
It didn't take long at all before my mind calmed. I actually had a good time in the middle of the night staring at the ceiling, slowly and silently narrating a book.
I've turned to prayer in the past in this type of situation. I think the idea to narrate a good book as a way to calm down was the answer to my prayer before I even said it. Before I asked for a peaceful mind, the way to get one was already there with me. I must remember to say thank you.
I drop off the tax paperwork with the accountant later this week.
Everything is in order.
Top photo: We visited the Pinball Hall of Fame recently in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
Bottom photo: At home, late winter.