Has anyone ever seen Russell Brand’s stand up show Shame? Well in that show he talks about the embarrassing things that make you stay awake at night. He describes the cringy memories coming to him like an evil sandman waking you up just before you drift off to sleep. It’s like that dickhead friend you have posting a mortifying picture of you on Facebook and just typing ‘I’ll just leave this here’.
Everyone has those random thoughts that pop into your head at night. I get those lovely shame filled ones that float into your head make you physically cringe and end up making you stay awake for the rest of the night – sort of like the fear but it could be from something that I said when I was about five. I also tend to have thoughts about the uncertainty of the future and make up scenarios in my head about Zombies, waking up in an alternative universe, and alien invading the planet. Of course this happens just when I am about to fall asleep. I’ll be drifting off then BOOM, an image of me when I dyed my hair black before thick dark eyebrows were a thing, so I looked like I didn’t have any eyebrows. I feel my stomach turn over and then I lie awake for five hours analysing the reason why I thought that was a good idea. My brain also likes to revisit the time when I was in primary school and had a solo at a prayer service. The first opening verse was mine. I felt like a queen … then I opened my mouth and I sang out of tune. I remember seeing my friend’s mother’s face in the audience.
Sometimes I think about more contemporary embarrassing incidents like my birthday two years ago where I drank A LOT of Jameson, sloppily left the pub without telling anyone and got a taxi home. Started dosing off in the taxi – the driver did not appreciate this. I woke up the next morning with my jeans hanging around my ankles (they were skinny jeans I must have just given up) and my pretty pinky red lipstick all over my cheek. I had not gotten that drunk since I was in my early twenties and the shame was unbearable. Not just because of the sheer embarrassment but because getting into that state is not cute and I honestly don’t think my liver has ever forgiven me. She still won’t return my texts since that night (FYI my liver doesn’t really have access to a mobile phone this was purely for comedic effect).
I obviously freak out about the big stuff right before going to sleep as well. You know, I ask myself: what is life and is my purpose – you know the big complex shit. I sometimes stay awake at night staring at the ceiling worrying that my friends and I will end up being forced into some kind of The Handmaid’s Tale situation and have all of our rights taken away or that they may decide to outlaw tea in this country and have to relocate and find a new home. All of that is completely normal, everyone worries for the future. But other smaller things tend to keep me awake for ages. I don’t know whether this is the same for everyone one or if it is just me but I lie awake at night making a list of ways I can get away without yet another day of washing my hair or trying to justify not changing my socks for a few days (if you only lie down watching telly for most of the day then the socks cannot be dirty).
I also do that thing where right before I sleep I imagine myself finally telling people how I really feel about them. I eventually fall asleep feeling empowered – then when I do see them I smile politely and my lack of sleep is all for naught. I imagine the scenarios where I meet my heroes. I imagine this going well but it slowly drifts into the image of me embarrassing myself in front of them and having shame filled sleepless nights with my brain asking me if I remember the time I shit myself in front of Chimamanda Adichie. Yes you read that right, I lay awake imagining myself being kept up all night.