I went to an Aware meeting last night.
I’m bound by the agreement to confidentiality that starts every meeting. But I think I’m entitled to report on how I got on at the self-help group which began at about 2010.
I fell asleep. I was awake for most of the first person. However, I nodded off, woke briefly to hear a bit of one other person, and otherwise slept soundly - without snoring - until the end of the discussion at about 2135.
No one even tried to wake me. They all knew I needed the sleep, even though this was my first time slumbering through an Aware meeting.
I’ll never know what happened at that meeting. Over tea in the kitchen afterwards, everyone was kind and gentle with me. We don’t talk about what was said in the meeting room. We relax and enjoy each other’s company, and chocolate biscuits.
Why did I fall asleep?
I’ve done it before. But only at dinner parties, after wine, especially when I’ve not been the centre of attention. (Gradually the Wiffe has ratcheted up the consequences for me of falling asleep in public: she has got crosser and crosser to the point where I’ve given up drinking red wine. She’s succeeded in curing me of the habit of relaxing too much in such social situations. And I thank her for that. I don’t like sleeping over my friends.)
I’ve never fallen asleep when I’ve been at such an interesting discussion group as Aware: I’ve always found the issues and the people riveting.
So why nod off last night?
I’ve been through a rough time over the last week. I was exhausted.
First, I’ve been doing paid work:
running a particular “time management” training course that was new to me, for a new client, and I’ve had to drive Cork to Limerick and sleep in someone else’s bed overnight
designing and running an innovative “teamworking” session for a high-powered group, none of whom I’d met before
Second, I’ve been doing this in the context of an urgent rush to complete the sale of the Wiffe’s house in Dublin, and exchange contracts for the purchase of a house in Glanmire in Cork:
travelling to Dublin by train to sign documents
dealing with the people in the Wiffe’s house, including getting them out
struggling to find a way to dispose of furniture and other stuff in time for that house closure
Third, I’ve had an exciting, emotional run up to the Wiffe’s highly significant birthday:
bothered that I might forget something important
concerned that my co-ordinating skills might not be up to complex celebrations
Finally, I did the worst thing possible:
I lost her gold bracelet, and the four charms I got as birthday present to go with it.
This was a disaster because she’d been reluctant to let me borrow the bracelet in case I’d loose it. She must have had a premonition: on Friday evening I couldn’t find the charm bracelet. I was convinced I put it somewhere safe and secret in the house - so that she wouldn’t come across it be accident before the day.
I could go on about what happened next, including how I tried to deny I’d lost it until there was nothing left to say. I could describe the fury, the sheepish guilt, the frustration - the sheer volume of emotion that welled through me (and her too).
To complicate things, we had a lovely time on most of Saturday, all of that evening in Ballymaloe, all of Sunday until I had to say “I have lost it…” So the excitement was not all negative.
However, I’ve had no quiet & calm time recently.
So, is it any wonder I fell asleep among my fellows at Aware last night.
The best thing is that I narrowly avoided having a crazy week which would have involved me delivering a high-powered presentation & driving to Dublin on Tuesday, supervising a removal company, sleeping on a fresh bed, driving on to Limerick on Thursday, to another bed, to another training course, to another bed, and finally, on Saturday morning driving back to Cork, to a house with guests, to let the Wiffe go off for more celebrating with her girlfriends.
Somehow, in the middle of the furious emotions that swilled through me, I was saved from my own weakness: saved from doing too much, as if I could do everything.
So, last evening, I sat and slept and it was the best thing I could have done there.
Today, I am a fresh man,
and I meant to blog about the Vincent Browne show in RTE Radio 1 last night, on which John McCarthy made a wonderful advocate for people with mental health issues.
Tune into the podcast on the RTE radio website and you’ll find a great debate about what it’s like to be in the care of the Irish health system. Probably John won’t get elected as an Independent from Cork North-Central in the coming election, but his voice is badly needed in Irish public life. Through him, people who are suffering have had a voice and I wish that voice to be louder. I hope the people in that constituency will not miss the opportunity to vote for John: they may not get such an opportunity to vote for their health again.
Especially after the suicided deaths of the family in Co Wexford: that news harrowed me all day yesterday and probably added to my tiredness.
But now, after such a long write, I crave the calm of an empty kitchen where I can make my own tea.
There is blue in the sky over Cork.