Sunday, March 30, 2014

I Want My Ex-Husband When I'm Not Fully Conscious

When Max and I first started dating in January 2005, it was three months after my brother-in-law died of cancer, and three years after my mom’s Stage IV breast cancer diagnosis and the September 11 attacks. These terrifying events had shaken me to my core and I guess my subconscious was overwhelmed. For years, I was having nightmares. Some were just unsettling, some were terrible. It wasn’t unusual to wake up to find my pillow damp with tears and sweat.

When Max started sleeping over, my bad dreams became less frequent. (The feminist in me hates to admit that there was a security and calm I felt from sleeping beside a man.) Anyway, at some point I admitted to Max that I was suffering through dreams that were typically about the apocalypse or the demise of a loved one – or both on a particularly bad night.

I'm a [sort of] badass chick who takes care of herself just fine.
So why do I still want my ex-husband in
the middle of the night?!
“Well, wake me up if you have one of those creepy dreams,” he said, the solution so simple. “I’ll make you feel better. Or something.”

Wow, I thought, this guy doesn’t know what he’s agreeing to (SUCKER!). But lucky me, what a great boyfriend I found.

Over the next seven years, I can’t even tell you how many times I nudged or directly woke up Max. He would roll over and grunt, “huh?”

I would whimper, “I had a bad dream.”

And he would respond perfectly. Every. Time.

He would sleepily say something like, “It’s OK, Bear, come here,” and then open his arms. Sometimes I would be crying on him as I tried to shake off visions of my mother dying without chemo or my hometown burning to the ground or the shapeless terror of some evil man chasing me. Other times I would just calm my breathing as I found serenity in his warm embrace. Eventually, I would drift back into a peaceful slumber.

(Max wasn’t that great at calming me down when we were awake, but he had mastered it when he was barely conscious.)

The last time that Max held me like that was seven months ago. It was the morning of the day when we were finally moving out of our condo. We had been divorced for six months and he had been sleeping in the guest room for almost a year. I woke up physically and emotionally distraught. It was 6 a.m. and I padded down the hall and slipped into the bed where he slept. Without saying a word, he opened his arms and held me as I silently cried on his shoulder.

Pooh and I will NEVER divorce.
This week, I had several stupid anxiety dreams that kept waking me up. I wasn’t crying, my heart wasn’t quite pounding, but I was physically distressed. I felt yucky and shaken up, all alone in my king bed. (Well, all alone with my trusty Pooh Bear.) And even though I was still mostly asleep, my immediate desire was clear:

I want Max.

Will I ever stop wanting Max in those moments of late night vulnerability? Time will tell.

Epic Mommy Adventures


  1. Oh, I know this feeling. I went through a year long spell of trying to replace my ex with someone else. It was terrible. By the time I finished that gigantic mistake repeated again and again, I trusted no one in my bed. I had to relearn trust when I met my husband. I hope things get easier for you, and you give yourself time to let these feelings fade some. -Hugs-

  2. I can't understand what you are going through, but I hope it gets better. You are in my thoughts and prayers. (((hugs)))

  3. I think I'm in a really good place for adjusting to life without my ex. It's these stupid middle of the night moments that make me feel like it's two years ago! Ugh. Good to know you were able to move on in a healthy way. Thank you for reading!

  4. I can (and do) relate. Most of the time I'm totally fine, but its the moments when I'm pretty much a puddle that I miss his hugs the most. Ironically its usually something to do with him (like our shitty "chat" last night) that leads to those damn tears. Its also why I'm so damn grateful to have the animals, though I'm quite sure my dog wonders why I suddenly snuggle him in bed at times.

  5. Particularly in the first year, I would be fine fine fine, then BOOM, some random thing would have me running for bathroom to sob in a stall. It's so much better now, so hopefully you're moving in that direction.

  6. Um I'm 34 and I totally sleep with Winnie the Pooh. Every night. I slept with Pooh even when I was married! A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, right?
    Thank you for reading!

  7. Oh this breaks my heart..... i am so sorry that he is no longer there to comfort and lean on. It sucks!!!! Grab a teddy, one from my childhood lives on our bed, yes the hubby has NEVER kicked George out of bed....

  8. I have a very reliable companion -- Winnie the Pooh!! would be lost without him!

  9. Theresa @ My Random Single LifApril 1, 2014 at 6:05 PM

    Oh, sweetie. It sucks that he is no longer there. While, I don't know exactly what you are going through, because I have never been married, I can relate. Whenever I'm upset, all I ever want is Bartender Boy to comfort me like he did for so long.

  10. Yeah for Pooh Bear!!!! Will be there no matter what, ALWAYS!!!!!

  11. Immediately after our separation I missed the little things such as always getting a hug & kiss goodbye when leaving for work and the same upon returning from work. I hated what he did but missed those little things. Hang in there.

  12. Wow. This is so brutally honest and good. My brother is going through a divorce and I think he feels the same way. I try to be there for him, but there's only so much a brotherly hug will do. Hope is just around the corner, I tell him.

  13. Thanks for reading, Chris. Yes, please keep giving your brother those hugs! Divorcing people can't get enough of them, especially when things are REALLY shitty. And please consider sharing my blog with him -- my entries from February-July 2013 may be of particular interest to him.

  14. Time will make it happen, but uggh... it's so freaking hard. Wishing you lots of strength through those hard nights.

  15. Thanks Suzanne!

  16. I can definitely relate - my ex-husband was definitely a sweetheart and a comforter. When we separated and I got my own apartment, I experienced a lot of anxiety, especially since it was the first time I had ever lived on my own. Since I was married at 18, I moved from living with my father to living with my husband. It was a huge adjustment and I now it's a lot better.

    Thanks for sharing this great post on Turn It Up Tuesday! We love having you! :)

  17. Wow, I cannot imagine going from my parents' house to being married... and then back on my own. Good for you, that takes real strength.

  18. It was more stubbornness than strength! But now looking back, it was definitely an experience I'll never forget. Wishing you the best!