The hand ratchets steadily across the pale, numbered face. Ticking off the seconds that form the hours of sleeplessness. Today was a good day. Wasn’t it? And yet I am restless. Disjointed. Unable to find my ease.

Perhaps it is because my thoughts are revolving around him tonight. Shadows bring doubts, while sudden grief tugs me towards sympathy. Towards tolerance. Towards a place I am happy to no longer be. I know this. I know that I sleep better alone in this springy, uncomfortable bed than I did on the Memory Foam mattress in our condo. But old habits die hard.

There were a few good times, with my ex and I. Early on we had our struggles, but he still cared enough to try for a few years. We were involved in a church then, and had a strong support system. Every night seemed like a sleep-over with my best friend, there was intimacy, laughter… but even now as I sit and remember, I start to catalogue the wrongs – broken closet door. Flung clothes. Flung papers. Flung dishes. Furniture broken. Laptops smashed. Long nights awake, holding a man who cried and wished his life to be over. There were still rages – even then. Over pot lids not matching. Over how to cook food.

How did I ever believe that was normal?

It troubles me that I can’t pinpoint the moment of real change in me. Perhaps it was the first time I called 911, about 4.5 years ago. Perhaps earlier, for every peak must be climbed.

I miss the man I thought I knew. Who waited until he asked me to marry, before he relaxed and began to let me see his darker nature. Yet even then, I felt too committed to back away.

My family has a long family history of sticking to and supporting those with lifelong health issues. In my naivete, I thought this was just another situation I had to bear.

The clock is still ticking. But there is something comforting in the steady tick tick tick tick as time passes. Hours. Minutes. Seconds. Each one is a percussive whisper. Maybe it will sing me to sleep tonight, and remind me that time is not the enemy. While I can avoid my Ex in the waking hours, the assurance of security from dreaming of him is rather less certain.


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