I used to cry myself to sleep at night. This is something most people only do when they are alone in the bed. I was divorced and single and flat broke. I felt like I would be alone forever. I believed I had missed my chance at love. I had long known I couldn’t have children, and now I wouldn’t have a mate to call my own either. There would be nobody at my side to keep me company while we grew old. I was SO. SAD.
I determined to be ready if the day ever came. If I met someone who was worthy of my devotion, someone who could be my true partner and companion, I wanted to make sure I had room for him. I wanted him to feel completely at ease in my home. If he came in the door, where would he hang his coat? Where would he sit? Would he like a cup of tea? (As it turns out, he does). Would I want him in my bedroom?
The question of the bedroom is more often a question of whether we are embarrassed to have anyone see the state of the room itself than whether we are ready, willing, and able to get physical with someone. (There’s more room on the floor, after all). Many of us use our bedrooms as storage sheds. It’s standard for people to get ready for guests by cleaning the living room and hiding stuff in the bedroom. In most modern homes, it’s one of the few rooms with a door to shut. A typical bedroom is full of dirty clothes, unfolded clean clothes, and often an unruly desk or computer station as well. Some people have storage boxes or multiple laundry baskets stacked up. Many bedrooms have three or more dressers. Many have closets that won’t shut due to the clothes and other things pouring out. One of my clearing jobs involved a couple of boxes related to a project that had been procrastinated since 1983. It was positioned so it could torment the owner with guilt from the moment the alarm went off each morning until bedtime each night. Bedrooms are our secret places, and by secret, I mean the bad kind, not the fun kind.
A bedroom is a private place. People who live alone and like it that way still have an opportunity to make the bedroom a lovely, peaceful room of rest and solitude. It is a place for dreaming. A bedroom should be cozy and drowsy. It should be a room with a boundary that is respected, a place of retreat, a place to get away from the cares of the world and put life on hold. Sleep, and plenty of it, can make a relaxed person out of a crabby person. Sleep recharges us and allows us to be patient, kind, and generous. Sleep gives us the energy to face the day, to retain willpower, to make good decisions, to be productive, to look forward to exercising our bodies. A bedroom can be a charging station.
Sleep procrastination is a real phenomenon. Why won’t we go to sleep when we are tired? Parents know why; that space between the kids’ bedtime and grownup bedtime is the only chance during the day for High Quality Leisure Time. We lie to ourselves about how tired we know we will be the next day. The less we like our jobs, the more likely we are to punish our bodies by chronically depriving ourselves of sleep. This guarantees that we will never have the energy to look for something better. Why else would someone who was exhausted fight sleep, like a fussy toddler? Some of us are avoiding bedtime because we don’t want to acknowledge an emotional disconnect with our romantic partner. Some of us don’t like the bedroom and subconsciously avoid it, due to the mess and clutter and, perhaps, the accumulated dust that causes respiratory issues while we sleep. Some of us (such as myself) have nightmares or other parasomnias or sleep disorders. Some of us are lonely and afraid to go to bed alone, when the house keeps settling and cracking and making creepy noises. Nobody who sleeps in a Temple of Love would ever delay going to bed at night.
I made my bedroom a Temple of Love. I make my bed every morning as soon as I wake up, so that the bed looks inviting and welcoming all day. It takes 45 seconds. In my single days, I had a full-size mattress, barely big enough for two, but I made sure to have two pillows, and a bedside table on both sides. The other side had an empty drawer. It also had a reading light. My bedding was as girly as I could ever want, because I planned to get it out of my system while I was still single. At one point, I had rose and gold with brocade and tassels, and then I had rainbow-colored florals. Now that I’m married, we’ve gone for a more sedate look, the way I always knew I would.
We always choose the smallest room for our bedroom. We like it cozy. It’s easier to keep warm on cold nights (and easier still, now that I have the biggest, hairiest man I could find). There is nothing in our bedroom but the bed, a nightstand on each side, and a blanket chest at the foot of the mattress. Maybe two feet of space is left between the bed and the wall, all the way around. When we get in bed at night, it’s like being in a tent, or the cabin of a ship. We are enclosed in a small, warm space, like our own little burrow. The bed has a deep pillow top. We spoil ourselves with mounds of soft pillows and a huge, fluffy comforter. In winter, we even have a heated mattress pad. For the first time in my life, I can fall asleep in minutes and stay that way for the next eight or nine hours. Sleep is one of the best parts of our day.
I had so much love to give, and it felt like it was just being wasted, like turning up the heat and opening a window. I wanted a MAN, not just any man, but a man who would be my partner in life. My equal. I would find him and make him mine. I would coax him into my lair. He would look around and realize how lucky he was to be there. As it turned out, love crept up on me, rather than the other way around. I almost missed the opportunity because I saw him as a friend, rather than a romance waiting to happen. I did, however, have a welcoming place ready, in my home and in my heart. I built a Temple of Love where we now return each night, remembering what it is to devote yourself utterly to one certain person.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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