My brain’s revenge (2)

After the breakup with my girlfriend I had a fair bout of insomnia. It lasted a few months. I wasn’t just having difficulties falling asleep, that was only a minor problem. The major one was waking up at night with a start, and then not sleeping again until about the time when I needed to get out of bed. I then did fall asleep, overslept and got late for work.

The way I woke up at night was a particularly nasty one. Somewhere in the hours after midnight I’d dream about my girlfriend. These dreams didn’t have any story to them, they were rather sudden images than dreams. And they’d always be roughly the same kind of images: simple everyday household things: I walk into our apartment coming from work and see her busying herself in the kitchen; she hands me a beer, a book or the vacuum cleaner; I see her coming out of the shower drying her red hair; she walks into the living room while I’m reading a book; she’s putting on a beauty mask (I loved it when she did that), I watch her sip her cappuccino.

Right after the ‘image’, in fact: immediately, I’d realise that this was no longer happening and I woke up with a start, sweating, my heart racing like mad and sometimes nauseous or throwing up. The rest of the night I would spend awake and plagued by utterly useless thoughts about her and what had happened, loitering not just the fringes of my mind, but the very core. It was a bit like something that had happened to me before one night about ten years before, only worse: this was about something real, and now it was occurring every single night.

After a while the prospect of all this made me wish I’d go to sleep, and dread sleep at the same time. On the one hand I would sort of ‘meet’ my girlfriend but on the other it guaranteed me a sleepless night as well. That state of indecision is not conducive to sleeping well at all. Ironically that’s called ‘positive feedback’.

It was my girlfriend herself who provided the solution. She read the blog post about my one time experience mentioned above. After reading the post she decided I must have been thinking about this other woman all the time that we had been together: two and a half years. ‘I’ve been feeling this all the time during our relationship.’ she complained to me in an angry email. She thought waking up nauseous from a dream was something ‘magical and poetic’, something that could not be beaten by the living relationship I had had with her.

I wrote her a friendly reply, explaining how very, very wrong she was. I told her the blog post she had read was just a starter for this one, how very much worse I was now, than ten years before. I explained ‘magical and poetic’ things were now happening to me every single night instead of just once and begged her to accept that she was infinitely more important to me than this unrequited love of ten years ago.

She never even answered.

We had agreed a few months before to stay friends and I could have forgiven her for cheating on me, eventually. But this unexpected silence somehow turned out to be a turning point: it made me begin to see my foolishness in trying to remain friends.


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