The 4 O’clock Hour of the Soul

In the 49 days since my entire life was knocked over by a rip tide that seems to keep whipping me out, again and again, I have spent a lot of time on my computer. Talking to friends. Emailing lawyers. Perusing Facebook and cursing every single one of the happy family holiday pictures. Going to her page and staring at her, trying to imagine her and my husband together, in all ways. Looking for inspirational quotes and finding myself dragged into looking for the darkest, most depressing memes I can find.

I do this for many reasons. Partly because I don’t have the focus or concentration right now to do any of the things I like to do at night, namely read. I tried watching Netflix but This is Us has way too many ugly cry moments, not to mention good fathers and husbands. Cell phone games are strangely anxiety-provoking. There is really only so much one can do at 4 in the morning, which seems to be my wake-up time more often than not. (There used to be a time when I was an 8-9 hour a night girl. I miss sleeping.)

But one morning recently, while searching for darkness quotes, I found this.


First off. F. Scott, mad props. Secondly. Yes. Just yes. Its two-fold, this quote. How I feel, most of the time, is the way one feels when one awakens at 3 a.m. Its almost morning, but not quite. It’s been nighttime forever. The weight of the world presses down heavily at 3 a.m. The mind can’t turn off and thoughts cannot be escaped.

This is how I feel, about my life. As though I went to sleep one night with everything just as it used to be. Had my wine, waiting for my husband to get home (we’ll call that clue #1 that I missed…his not being around at night.) Chatted a bit. Likely dozed off watching Netflix. Asked for my nightly back rub. Read in bed for a bit until I would drift off into a lovely  slumber in which I got to experience all the aspects of REM sleep. (Seriously. Of the many things he took from me, the ability to be a good sleeper is one I’m pretty bitter about.)

I used to wake with nothing on my mind but my happy-go-lucky nature, my positive attitude, my love of the morning: peace, quiet, coffee and my dog. Getting things set for my kids to wake up. Making a to-do list. Chipper and cheery. Instead, its like I woke up at 3 a.m. and everything has changed and everything is horrible. My husband no longer loves me, he loves someone else. Cue disaster music and a montage of our lives together with a faded out end scene of me crumpled on the floor in despair while he rekindles his love with a girl who wears way too much perfume.

And the second thing is the literal fact that I wake up in this dark hour of the night more often than not. For me, its 4 a.m. Like clockwork (see what I did there?) And its a crapshoot where my conscious will be when I do. Often, the first thing I do is what I always did if I woke in the middle of the night–reach my hand over to the other side of the bed to feel for him. He’s not there.

Sometimes, I forget for a minute. I try to think if I’m somewhere else or if maybe it’s only midnight and he hasn’t come to bed. And then I remember. He isn’t there. He’s not there. And then I remember more. He’s somewhere else, sleeping in a bed with someone else. Or he’s two floors below me in the basement on his token night at the house, which I’m starting to think he’s only doing so he can claim he didn’t abandon us. I’m not sure which of those scenarios is worse–when he’s there, or when he’s not.

Then, I think of my dreams. Its a blessing and curse to remember them (and I almost always do, even in my previous, happy life.) My dreams waft between scenes in which I run into her or find her sitting in his lap kissing him and I simply unleash fury. I pummel her or slap her again and again. Other dreams involve him and her, laughing at me. Telling me ridiculous things. In between all of these dreams are the regular components of my nightmares…driving a car that’s out of control, being late, a lice infestation (never going to get over The Time the Kids had Lice.) The worst of the dreams are the ones in which we’re still together, and everything is okay. Because the crushing weight of reality is twice as heavy when that point comes along.

And what does one do at 4 a.m. when one’s life is in tatters?

Well I’ll tell you what I’ve tried. I’ve tried taking a bath. For the record, if you’re a bath person I supposed this is nice and all but I’m not a bath person. Trying to become one while in the midst of betrayal and lies in the middle of the night is not going to work out.

I’ve tried “getting stuff done” mainly: paperwork, lawyer stuff, documenting my life and every interaction with him just in case his threats are real and he tries to take my kids away. (And at the same time, wondering how I went from making to-do lists that included things like write thank you cards and make menu for Thanksgiving to copying household bills and bank statements in the middle of the night.) This is productive but leaves me even more mentally exhausted by the time my kids get up (sooo many hours after me.)

If I’m going to cry this is usually when it is. And its a horrible, horrible time for profound sadness. When I’m upset (about anything) my go-to reaction is to talk to someone. But no one wants a text at 4 a.m. from the weepy, mentally unstable friend they once knew as happy. Everyone else is sleeping, right? Sometimes–and I’m saying this not with conviction, but I’ve wondered–sometimes, I’m not even sure God is listening then.

One morning in particular, I remember. A Tuesday. Day 6. I think I woke up crying and could not make it stop. 4 a.m. becomes 5 a.m. and 5 becomes 6 and 6 will eventually become 7 which is about when my sweet, precious children will come barreling down the stairs. One, a wild mess of crazy hair and ready to battle against getting dressed, eating, and generally participating in her own life in terms of leaving for school. The other, fully dressed with his coat and backpack on, complaining that he wants to go to school early.

I went outside as it was becoming light. (Full disclosure: to smoke a cigarette. Because that’s what I do now. Smoke like a fiend.) I could not stop my tears, and my head was pounding and my sinuses full of snot. My eyes burned, and it was cold out. I literally, actually, got down on my knees and gave it up. Whatever that means. Asked God to throw me a bone, for fuck’s sake. Prayed to the moon. And still, nothing came. (Well, it did come later, in the form of a friend who just happens to be a spiritual medium, but we’ll save that for another post.)

So now. I write. I’ve always let my heart and soul flow through a pen and a keyboard, forever. Since I was a child. But really, what have I written? Teenage angst, now stored in Rubbermaid tubs full of WaldenBook journals that hold my ridiculous musings and thoughts about love, sex, and life? Ahh, little girl. What did you know? I’ve started and failed to finish numerous novels as an adult. Because–I write what I know. And what did I know? I would have been better off writing children’s books about sunny days. I blogged about our family life…but that was merely a recap of my kids. That was to preserve history–something for my children to look back on someday. The very last post, ironically, was about my husband and my love for him and our life. Oh, the fucking irony.

So now. I write because I have something to write about. In the 4 a.m. hour of my life, and in the 4 a.m hour of my soul. Darkness prevails, shrouds, and clings. Its the dead of winter, and morning doesn’t break until long after I’ve been up. Night falls long before the end of the day.

But. 49 days in, baby. I’m still here.



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