Sleeping Wide Awake


Lying in bed at night, I think about the things I never want to hear again.

I never want to hear one of IDIOT FRIEND’s bullshit excuses for why he hasn’t done work assigned to him (he once told me he hadn’t take pictures I required for a pitch deck because he couldn’t hold the camera straight due to our thirty-second earthquake), any of his mindless (and unsubstantiated) attacks, or any of his remorseful but shitty, provisional apologies.

Sometimes, you offer perfunctory acceptance in return because it’s just too much effort to extract yourself from a mire of shit, stupidity, and idiocy. That’s why so many people persevere with terrible relationships, I think – because it’s more effort to extricate oneself from them than to continue to endure the muck.

I’m guilty of that with my ex. When we’d argue, inevitably she’d throw out, “Do you know what your problem is?” I always knew I was about to find out in exhaustive detail – a scathing deconstruction of all my failures, why I didn’t function like “normal people”, and a twisting (the absolute worst of all these salvos) of events to substantiate any of her accusations.

She used as evidence things she hadn’t even been privy to, and which she only learned of secondhand through me. But in her retellings, she suddenly knew more than me about how things had unfolded, rewrote the context, and would embellish to verbally lynch me to the extent that I would (literally, not just figuratively) want to ram my head into a wall, or wander the streets aimlessly at night in an attempt to walk off her attacks and recalibrate.

You hear these things over and over until your ears grow raw and your brain recoils from just the potential of one of these eruptions. Then you compromise yourself to avoid the pain until you can compromise yourself no more.

In a short story I once wrote about the narrator’s problematic relationship:

We used to be so in sync, although when I look back there were disagreements that make me wonder. Maybe nothing’s changed, but things just got noticed. Maybe that’s what relationships are: a progressive noticing of things you don’t like.

The world fucks us up. It doesn’t even have to be malicious. Upbringing, environment, circumstances, all contribute to fucking us up, and those patterns dominate our decisions. It’s not until we’re older that we might even begin to attempt to unfuck ourselves.

So, when I can’t sleep, I lie in bed, and think about the things I want to leave behind, and what astonishes me is that hate and anger can wound you, but that’s easier to walk away from than the pain that love and regret can inflict.

BEST FRIEND and I hadn’t caught up much over the last two years for a variety of reasons, ranging from jealous EX to lockdowns to a global pandemic and an assortment of in-betweens.

There are all these conversations I thought we’d eventually have, talking the way we used to, but those opportunities are gone now. I spoke to her everyday after her death for over fifteen months, and still do now (although not with the same regularity), but those one-sided conversations can only take you so far before you realize their futility.

These are the things you can’t walk away from, and can’t dismiss like fuckwits.

Lying awake, listening to the ringing in my ears, I ponder how sometimes, it feels like I can will these conversations into reality, like the tinnitus is a barrier that if I just try hard enough I’ll learn to navigate or penetrate or dismantle, and when I do that then I can have all the conversations I want with BEST FRIEND.

Or at least just the one I need.