Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Last night I had a heck of time falling asleep because I kept itching. One place would itch, so I'd scratch it. That itch would be extinguished, but another would immediately pop up somewhere else. This process repeated itself over and over and over again, leaving me a little more forlorn each time. Have you ever had this problem? Very frustrating, yes?

The first thing I always think when this happens is that there are bugs crawling all over me, but a quick check invariably reveals that there are in fact no bugs in the bed, or on me. There may be a tiny amount of dirt, which is not surprising considering how many pets are liable to hop up on the bed from time to time (in fact I'm always surprised that the pet dirt situation is not a lot worse than it is), but even that is not enough to cause a problem of this magnitude.

So if there's no immediately obvious physical stimulus, why I am itching like there's no tomorrow? I can't go to sleep in this condition, so I decide that I might as well spend my time productively. I search for the cause of my predicament, in the hopes that in finding the cause I will also see the cure. Here's what I come up with -- I itch because I'm impatient, because I want to control something or know something, and whatever it is that I want is eluding me right at this moment.

It occurs to me that there are probably at least two reasons I am itching on this particular night. My friends with whom I just had dinner are moving to Vienna soon (Austria, not northern Virginia, thankfully). The selfish part of me is sad to see them go and wishes that they had more time in DC, while the part of me that wants their lives to be hassle-free wishes that they were already settled into their new home without having to go through all this moving-and-flying business that they are about to embark upon. I want two competing things, neither of which is available in the wee hours of this Wednesday morning. I itch for resolution. In addition, I have just started job hunting, and although I know there are several places that would be happy to have me, I don't know if any of them will be willing to take me on my preferred terms. Usually I am OK with the fact that my career is up in the air, but occasionally I panic. I itch for certainty.

It is about 2:30 a.m. when I finally figure out that I am itching not because anything is physically wrong, but rather because I am being particularly, stubbornly insistent that things be other than as they are right now in this moment. I know, both theoretically and from experience, that this is a losing battle, but I am unsure how exactly to quell this mental turmoil so that this annoying itching will cease and I can get some much-needed sleep. Then, miraculously, I am saved by the Beatles. I am not really a Beatles fan (sacrilege, I know), but in my itchiness the opening lyrics of a Beatles song that I do happen to like quite a lot present themselves as the solution--

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to to me
Speaking words of wisdom,
Let it be.

Let it be. That is exactly, exactly what I need to do! Let my friends' journeys evolve as they will, let my job situation sort itself out in due course, stop trying to control the world, stop even wishing that I could control the world, stop even worrying about this blasted itching. Just let it be. I didn't ever see Mother Mary last night, but I did heed her particular words of wisdom, and it turns out that they are a remarkable cure for insomniac itching. I strongly suspect that they are a cure for many other types of self-imposed suffering as well.


Reya Mellicker said...

From what I've observed your allergies are much worse this year than last. I have theories about this (naturally!) including the fact that you aren't using the A/C this year like you did last year. The filtered air really helps those of us with allergies. I know it's late in the season at this point, but maybe if you switch it on at least until the humidity and bad air clears, that can help ease your poor histamines.

Not everything is about the mind. Take good care dear one.

Adrianne said...

I think that the spring allergies were much worse, which in part is what prompted the dietary changes I made earlier this summer. From my perspective, the late summer/onset of fall has been going much better than last year in the sinus-and-sneezing department (at least so far). I truly think that the itching *is* a psychological thing -- I have noticed over a period of many years that I find myself itching to pieces at night when my mind can't settle. It doesn't seem to be correlated with seasons or other bodily complaints or anything else other than mental angst. And it abates when the mind calms. So, as best I can tell, this particular bodily phenomenon really does have its roots in the mind.

Reya Mellicker said...

Thank you for putting me on your blog roll! Hope to see other blogs listed sooner or later, too.

Hope your itching has vanished and that you're feeling great today.