Eden M. Kennedy

mission accomplished, pal

Eden M. Kennedy is the co-author (with Alice Bradley) of the book Let's Panic About Babies! (St. Martin's Press, 2011).

A former college-radio DJ, Mrs. Kennedy has driven cross-country six times in a 1973 Volkswagen Bug and enjoys standing on her head.

Currently she works at a nonprofit and is just about finished writing her first novel.

I am always amazed and threatened by the whole body/mind thing. The fact that despite everything I've been taught, the Dodge Dart of my scourge-the-body-to-save-the-soul upbringing keeps running into a low brick wall that's been spraypainted it's all connected, asshole. I would say something Cartesian right now, but I like Descartes. Or was it Aquinas, getting drunk and running around in orchards, with his mother praying for him to find a job and quit having so much fun.

Anyway, I've been dealing with insomnia lately, and I've done everything to try and figure out what's been causing it. Certainly I wondered if it was hormonal, menopause possibly looming. But I've had enough checkups lately to know that my physical body's okay, so I started looking at my emotional body and my profoundly unknowable God-centered body -- you know, wondering if it was "all in my head."

Okay, so the not-sleeping started about a month ago, right after (1) I found out my gallbladder was just fine, (2) my mom got dischaged from her care facility, which I have not talked about, but she was unwell, and now she's a lot better, and (3) Jack got a profit check from a house he built that finally sold, bought me a gorgeous fucking watch, and paid off a chunk of our debt.

So: three less things to worry about, one would think, and yet there I was, eyes popping open at 2:00 a.m., mind ready to get up and start the day. Some mornings around 5:00 a.m. I'd be so tired I felt like throwing up, but my mind just wouldn't go under.

A friend of Jack's recommended Tylenol PM, which left me in this strange, crepuscular, horizontal, always-dawn where I was never quite asleep and never quite awake. And of course, always, more Chinese herbs! Which didn't make me sleep, but allowed me to stay very calm and relaxed about dealing with my daily responsibilities on four hours of sleep.

I also considered the unthinkable: that I needed to stop drinking.

Then, last night, Jack and I were eating dinner and talking about it (Jackson in the bedroom glued to Home Alone*) and he said, This all began when we got that money, and I said, Yeah, it's not the worry, it's just the change. That simple, positive changes in circumstance and the possibilities they opened up turned out to be an enormous shift that I could certainly deal with intellectually. But on another level all this was poised to change my entire identity. We are ceasing to be a continually-struggling boho couple who drinks cheap wine and can't afford to give Jackson his own room! My mother isn't going to die quite yet! I don't have to give in to fear-based thinking about my health!

And when I went to bed last night I knew something had changed, I felt it in my body. Just talking about it, just naming the problem freed me from it. I slept! For eight hours straight! Wow.

Of course, that all may change tonight. I'm always a little too quick to declare success. But it reminded me of something Carolyn Myss once said in an interview she gave that retarded magazine I used to work for: I have to paraphrase, but it was something like, Yes, the mind can control the body, but most people's minds aren't strong enough to meditate their tumors away. It takes work to learn to do that, and most people aren't willing to do the work, or don't believe it will help.

So once again I'm reminded that I have the spiritual strength of a toaster oven. But at least my hair looks better.

*Jackson was starting to worry about burglars, of all things. We had a long talk about things burglars would take from a house, e.g., jewelry or a computer or a painting (and how interesting that was to me, that he thought to suggest paintings), but probably not his special blanket. And he said, I could do that! And I said, But when you got caught you'd go to jail for a long time and I'd be very sad. So it's not good to be a burglar, but sometimes movies about burglars are exciting to watch, would you like to see a movie like that? And he said, Okay. Hence: Home Alone.