Are you reading this through bleary eyes as you desperately await the effect of a caffeine boost to kick start your weary self into life to endure another day? Perhaps you can vividly recall that drained sensation that haunted you and that nagging ache which was ever present behind your eyeballs? The need to close your eyes and slip into a deep and restful slumber. All you wanted to do was to close your eyes and allow the tiredness to evaporate and shrouded in the amnesiac qualities of sleep you would be given respite from the nightmare that enveloped you. Yet, you were never able to achieve that sleep. Your near permanent anxiety meant that as you lay in bed you were tensed, ready to respond to the next jibe or manipulation. You heard a click. Was that me exiting the study at long last and coming to the bedroom or was it just the house settling? You were hyper vigilant and you cannot now recall how long that state had existed but you did know that it caused a nightly battle where you tried to sleep but each sound made you twitch and ready yourself. Sometimes you must have fallen asleep, such was the extent of your exhaustion and you dreamed and then suddenly you awoke. What had happened? Why did you awake so suddenly? You twist and see me there lying fast asleep, unburdened by any concerns. Even now you want to reach out and touch me in the hope that my hand will be placed on your shoulder and then my arm will envelope you, making you feel safe and secure, like it once did. You have learned not to reach out though for the consequences of waking me from my rest are not worth experiencing again. Instead, your shaking hand retreated and you turned to look at the clock and you sighed with resignation as you realised that the fitful sleep you had endured was only about an hour in length.
You lay there, eyes stinging and head heavy giving thanks that it was not one of those nights where I repeatedly jabbed you in the back to stop you sleeping. How did I manage to do that and then bound from the bed refreshed and revitalised as you rose like a zombie? How had I been able to interrupt your sleep through the night by prodding you and yet I was energetic? Was I sleeping during the day like some vampire hiding from the sunlight? At least this time I am sleeping and you have been spared the intermittent prod in the small of your back. It is a small mercy since the questions and thoughts race around your mind, as they always do in the dead of night. Why is this happening? What has gone wrong? Why am I doing this? When will it end? How can you stop it? Should you ask me to talk about it or will that risk another argument? How much more can you take? When did you last sleep properly? These questions and more besides whirl around in your mind, having taken a hold in your head. Your eyes flick to the silent television set in the corner of the room and you debate watching something, anything, just to break the relentless churning in your skull, but even with the volume set at barely audible you know it will disturb me and then it will be your fault again.
You look to the door now closed. You managed to resist a lock being fitted to the bedroom door, wary of what further horrors might be unleashed against you if your exit was barred but each day you fear that on your return that you will see an invoice from a joiner on the kitchen table and a lock has been fitted. You ponder whether you should head downstairs and see if sleep will come on the sofa or at least you can put the headphones on and listen to a radio play or some music. That would provide some sanctuary but yet again, as if possessed of some sixth sense, you know that I will appear and demand to know what you are doing downstairs in the middle of the night. No matter how deeply I appear to be sleeping it as if I sense your absence and come looking for you. It is then that you face the accusations of texting some man behind my back even though your ‘phone is not to hand. It does not matter what the facts are does it? I always find a way of twisting the blame on to you. No, you cannot steal downstairs and instead you must remain board stiff in bed as your eyes watch the incessant march of time and sleep remains evasive. You can feel the hammering of your heart in your chest. Even though nothing is happening and all is quiet and still, that sense of foreboding remains. A cold hand of dread has gripped your heart and squeezes, driving the breath from your body and causing anxiety to spread across you. Perhaps you ought to see the doctor and see if he will prescribe something for this? You will need to do it without my knowledge otherwise I shall accuse you of attention-seeking by going to the doctor without consulting me first. I, of course, know what is best for you and I screen everything you do before determining whether I shall allow it. You know you ought to fight against it but you are so tired, so weary and you need what little strength remains to help you navigate a way throughout the day without treading on a mine and causing an explosion of fury. It is getting harder. You forget things now. Your memory used to be excellent or at least you think it did. Even thinking is becoming arduous and sometimes you just sit, staring into space, caught somewhere between wakefulness and hypnosis. If only one night of rest could come, if only this anxiety, this fear, this wariness would leave you and let you gain some strength, then you would not make the mistakes and I would not be angry. Perhaps then we could be as we used to be. You can still remember that and hope with all your heart that somehow this situation can be retrieved. You never felt tired then. You never walked with a shuffle or placed the milk in the dishwasher in error. You did not forget you were baking something until the acrid smell of smoke jolted you from your daydreaming and had you running into the kitchen, cursing your foolishness and immediately wondering if you could cook a fresh batch before I came home and witnessed another of your failures.
The clock shows 5am and sleep has evaded you once more. The dull throb in the centre of your forehead remains. You would have to be up in an hour anyway. There is no point trying to sleep now. You can see the first rind of dawn trying to permeate through the curtains and another day has arrived. You may as well rise and weave through this day, whichever day it is, is it Wednesday or Thursday? You cannot quite remember. You slide your feet from the bed and sit up, glancing at me over your shoulder, back now turned to you, my body rising and falling in a steady rhythm as I sleep on, oblivious to your exhaustion. You stand and sway a little as you ready yourself for another day of feeling drunk with fatigue.