Just Before Dawn

It’s 5:26 AM.
I’m tired.
And I can’t fall back asleep. 

I hate myself right now.
I hate, I fear, I resent, I loathe, I doubt, I despise, I judge.
I judge.
I judge.
I judge, I judge, I judge.

My identity is flawed.
My system reeks of bullshit.
I’m trying to put on “Bubbly Bella” but I’m flat soda water inside. 

The truth is, the start of the semester has been rough. I’ve been feeling insecure and rejected. I’ve been feeling phony in my confidence, suspecting it’s misplaced. I’ve wanted to voice this, vent it out, but I’m ashamed, and I fear being needy

Why is it always 5 a.m. when these truths come out? I came out as a lesbian the exact same way. This is a pattern for me. I bottle my emotions, suppress for weeks on end, till insomnia hits and I erupt.

This insomnia is a message from my subconscious.
I know exactly what it says. It says to write, to be consistent, own my truth and express myself.
After all, as I’ve learned time and again, I’m at my best when I’m an open book.

But I’m operating from the presence of fear. I have 14 drafts in my draft box. But unpublished they remain. This one’s too empty, this one’s too porous, this one’s too boring, this one’s too fake. I’ve been told before that I’m “over-eager,” and I hold that belief to this day. I’m so afraid that if I keep sharing, I’ll read as having something to prove.

Bella: this is your insomnia talking. You have to shift this energy, to shift this fear. I’ll help you. Here’s how: Plug in your headphones, why don’t you? Navigate to Youtube. Do a quick search for “Gabrielle Bernstein,” your spiritual/self-help guru.

So I do. I listen.
I bypass Gabby’s videos of  “Rules” and “10 Steps,” not in the mood for quick tips. I’m in search of a meditation, something long to pass the time.
I keep scrolling and come across 40 minute talk of hers called “Ignite Your Connection to Spirit.” 40 minutes is the perfect length; by the time it ends, it will almost be sun-up. 

Surprise surprise, the talk contains precisely what I need to hear.

As I mentioned above, I’ve had a rocky start to my school year. It was rejected from a production I desperately wanted to be in. Now, in the grand scheme of things, this is not a big deal; it’s a relatively superficial matter. Nevertheless, I internalized it. It reminded me of all the times and ways I’ve been rejected in the past. It triggered an underlying sense of inadequacy, and I began to fear that my confidence as an artist was misplaced.

Since then, I’ve been down. Insecure. Depressed. Jealous. Doubtful. But these feelings contradict my values and my persona, so I’ve been keeping them to myself. The tools I preach, the tools I rely on, are failing me, because I’m not in a place where I can believe them. I’m judging myself hard. And I’m judging myself for my judgement. 

What’s worse is that this judgment is not limited to me; it has a domino effect. We project what we feel about ourselves onto the rest of the world, and that’s what I’m doing with my judgment.

I’m afraid of being in-authentic; afraid of being over-confident; afraid of being pretentious. And I’m inadvertently yet actively seeking those qualities in others, so I can transfer my judgement onto someone other than myself.

For example, last week I met a man of extremely high esteem: a celebrity chef and close friend of my uncle’s. I judged him instantly because of his accomplishments; I dubbed him pretentious because of his confidence. I did to him exactly what I fear will happen to myself. 

In her talk, Gabby mentions that “the other person is you.” It’s a yogic concept, one I’ve heard before, though it never resonated in the past. But now I understand it. I identified to hate in this man precisely what I hate in myself. I projected onto him what I fear I exhibit to the rest of the world, which in doing so, I did exhibit. I manifested my greatest fear. 

But now I’ve noticed. I’ve tuned in. I’ve acknowledged and witnessed the judgement. Next step is to release it and fill the void with light. This is different for each individual. For me, it means to write. That’s what I need to do to be happy; to feel fulfilled. I have a passion, and I should let it serve me, rather than make it a toxic force. 

Oh, insomnia…you’ve done me good. I spy a valuable lesson here, folks: Melatonin, even in its strongest form, is no match for the written word. 


* * * * *

Time has passed; it’s now 6:27, and I’m listening to a sleep meditation. Some man is telling me to open and close my eyes as he counts backwards from 10, easing into a deeper stage of relaxation each time my lids close. But my mind’s taking a “Future Trip” to 2 hours from now.

I see myself at Think Coffee, one of my hot-spots, finishing a short story for tomorrow’s fiction class, when a pang of guilt passes through me. Think has a rewards system, where each time you make a purchase of $2 or more, you get a star. 10 stars earns you a free drink, a “free medium-sized beverage,” to be exact.

I’m always hunting for stars.

If I get a snack as well as a drink, I make two separate transactions to double my rewards. Additionally, I always look at the people in front of me, tempted to swoop in on those who don’t claim their stars. Usually I don’t, because I’m a person of integrity, but last week I couldn’t help myself.

I saw a man who didn’t look like a star-claimer and asked him if he planned to claim his reward.

He said, “I normally don’t—I was going to start today—but you know what, here: take my star.”

I said, “no no no no no! If you were going to start today, by all means, please—” but he insisted.

I gave in, not wanting to perpetuate the cycle, and told him I’m an avid star-claimer. He laughed in response: “You seem pretty avid.” So, I claimed his star, and we went our separate ways.

But here’s the thing about Think’s reward system: to claim your star, you must enter your phone number, and if you’ve paid with a credit card, then every time you use that card in the future your stars automatically go to that phone number’s account.

Of course there a way to change it, but I didn’t think this man was savvy enough to do so. He was older (yes I’m judging, but at least I’m aware).

Well, yesterday out of the blue I got a notification saying I was eligible for a reward from Think Coffee on Bleeker. I was nowhere near Think at this time, and I knew exactly what had happened:

This man had been claiming his stars and they’d been going to my account.

I feel awful! He’ll keep claiming and claiming and never get his reward, and I’m sure he’ll wonder why!
For shame!!!

Well, Man Out There, whoever you are, I so appreciate the kindness and generosity you showed me last week, and if I ever see you again I’ll make sure you get your stars.

In closing, I would like to say that the opinions expressed here are entirely my own and may not resonate with everyone; take what you like and leave the rest. If you liked what you read here, I invite you to share it, as these messages are for all.



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