I was probably in junior high when my dad, Dominic, and my Uncle Tony, decided to take a Dale Carnegie course, "How to Win Friends and Influence People."
I'm not sure how they heard about it or what exactly motivated them to take the course. Maybe they wanted to win friends and influence people. They practiced saying/shouting things like "MAN! AM I ENTHUSIASTIC!"
I remember dad and Uncle Tony both becoming more outgoing and feeling a little bit embarrassed by dad's new self-confident attitude and sometimes loud expressiveness. It seemed phony.
I thought, "What has Dale Carnegie done to my father?"
Fast forward to shortly after dad's funeral when my brother, my sister and I were going through his things and getting ready for an "estate" sale. There wasn't much of an "estate." More like what we refer to back East as a "tag sale" or what others call a yard sale or a garage sale.
In one of the dresser drawers I found the little booklet of Dale Carnegie's Little Golden Book of Rules. I have a lot of Mom's kitchen pots, pans, and gadgets, some linens and other items but of dad's belongings I have mostly tools and the like. Except I saved the Dale Carnegie Little Golden Book of Rules.
Maybe because it was instrumental in making over my dad into someone I didn't know.
Fast forward to sometime in my late thirties. I must have mentioned to my doctor some issue with sleep. Off to the sleep clinic to get wired up and try to sleep. Well I didn't sleep and they seemed to blame me for wasting their time.
A few years later my brief experience with Ambien was a nightmare.
Over the years I've continued to have sleep issues. I've mentioned it on this blog on several occasions. I've known people who use a CPAP. One stayed with us in a motel room once and the contraption kept ME awake all night and I wasn't the one wearing it.
The thought of strapping that thing on my face terrifies me.
Maybe it's a throwback to when I was 5 years old and had my tonsils out. The anesthesia back then was ether and they administered it by holding a kid down and putting this gas mask over his nose and mouth and making him breath in the noxious gas. It was Torture.
So my next sleep study was at 60. Didn't sleep much.
After the 2016 election I kept waking up in a panic, thinking, "It can't be. He can't be our president," and then being unable to go back to sleep. Four years of that.
This past summer I've been a chronic insomniac at least 5 nights a week and the other two nights I might sleep four hours give or take. Often it is one or another ache or pain or other proprioceptive stimuli keeping me awake. Once in a while it is Leon's snoring, but that is rare.
We, the medical profession, have tried gabapentin thinking perhaps it's restless leg syndrome. No, it didn't help.
Not sleeping much has made me quite anxious. I don't have many worries except not sleeping. Not sleeping and the thought of not sleeping keeps me up at night.
So I just had another in-home sleep study a couple of weeks ago. I worried about it all day. Didn't sleep AT ALL.
The sleep hygiene routine the doc gave me required me to get out of bed if not asleep in 10 to 15 minutes, engage in a quiet activity like reading till drowsy and return to bed; repeat as necessary.
Well, feeling under pressure to fall asleep in 15 minutes just made things worse.
Especially because I don't want to get out of bed and engage in any activity. I don't WANT to read, or watch TV, or twiddle my thumbs. I just WANT TO SLEEP!
I finally just said to hell with it and went with the old Italian saying, Che sera, sera. Whatever will be will be. That actually helped some. I was getting a few hours sleep most nights.
Then, a week or so ago I was going through a box of mementos and came across Dale Carnegie's Little Golden Book of Rules.
I flipped through it. Lots of basic do unto others type stuff. Be a good listener. Become genuinely interested in other people. Fill your mind with thoughts of peace, courage, health and hope. Count your blessings. You get the picture.
And then there on the last page, the very last bit of advice from old Dale was this:
6. Don't worry about insomnia.