He gave me nightmares. Not at first but as the relationship dragged on and on and started going to shit, so did my mental and emotional health. Things got so bad for me that one critical comment from him could shut me down for hours and that is how he earned the nickname, Satan.

I used to believe that Satan was the man of my dreams. He was attentive and spent so many days with me, watching TV, having sex, wining and dining me, and listening to me talk about my hopes and dreams…well, at that point, more like, talk about my hopes and delusions as I had no real plan for my life or how to accomplish what I wanted to do. I’d already published my first poetry collection when I met him, but the book sales weren’t doing so hot, so neither was I. Let’s not pretend that in America, financial stability isn’t equated with happiness. As I had no financial stability, I’d also had very little to be happy about, until he came along and saved me from the darkness that was the confused and lonely torture of being a fresh college graduate with no job, no real employment prospects in sight, who was also weighed down with hopes of becoming a full-time writer, even though, thus far, none of her plans had been going the way she’d planned them.

He was an artist, too. A singer and musician with a voice like an angel welcoming the newly dead into heaven. And so I felt that he understood what I was going through, had probably gone through it himself. He was so understanding and support for the first few months, but as my life slowly dissolved from nothingness and insecurity into total shit and panic, he stopped being so understanding and sweet.

I used to believe he was the man of my dreams… until the nightmares began.

He never loved me in the nightmares. He cheated on me and treated me poorly but… my sweetheart, the man I thought I knew, would never do those things to me in real life, would he?

He would.

Indeed, I began to notice that I only had dreams at all when he slept over. Sleep had become my new solitude, becoming a place where I could hide and just feel and do nothing. Sleep, the new activity I craved more than sex, for craving sex from someone who very suddenly claimed to have a low sex drive only lead to a lot of rejection. After spending 8 months in Brooklyn struggling to get by financially, attending job interview after job interview with nothing panning out, I’d had enough rejection to last several lifetimes. So it was that being told no over and over again killed my desire for sex and I stopped asking. Now, sleep was my new escape. Sleep become the only place where I could be everything I’d always wanted to be: peaceful, secure, warm, and taken care of.

But as our relationship turned to shit, so did my sleeping habits. I’d wake with my mouth opened to scream or cry out in the darkness, reaching for the only warm thing in the bed, which was usually him (and not my cat, who tended to be out of reach when he slept). Yes, I’d had nightmares before, but none where the man who claimed he loved me cheated on me again and again, while also telling me how much of a slut I was and refusing to have sex with me.

Now I was under attack when I was awake and when I slept. I didn’t bother to lie to him about the nightmares, telling him with my eyes averted what happened in each dream, but as he continued to reject me sexually, things continued falling to shit. I couldn’t even escape his cruel and selfish words by laying down at night to hide in the darkness. And whenever he made to inititate sex with me, I’d remember the sharp stab of a rejection felt only the day before and be unable to muster up enough desire to fuck him. He’d made me choke on my sexual needs repeatedly, and I’d gotten used to not having sex with him. Every slap on the ass came with some smart-ass remark. “Don’t get horny, baby. I’m just messing with you.”

Every day that we spent together became a trial of being very careful to avoid touching him in any way that could be miscontrued as sexual, thinking about every word, for fear that something I said would make me sound horny and thirsty, and eventually, just us lying in silence and pretending to be intrigued about something we were watching on Netflix.

How, you may wonder, was I repaid for my efforts to be more respectful of his suspiciously low sex drive? With more accusations of infidelity. Of course, he’d accused me of being unfaithful before. Several times. Sometimes in an offhand way, sometimes more directly. All of his sexual rejection murdered my sex drive completely, but, naturally, instead of taking responsibility for something that was entirely his fault, as I’d never had problems with my libido before, he pushed the blame off entirely onto me. I didn’t want to have sex with him, stopped trying to have sex with him, never even brought up the subject of sex with him anymore, so that clearly meant that I had to be getting the dick from someone else.

Which I wasn’t doing, although, to be honest, I’d given it some thought. I mean, who was he to fuck me into a monogamous relationship, thereby taking sole custody of my orgasms, only to stop delivering those orgasms. Our sexual relationship had never been one based on equality anyway. This was the type of guy who was thrilled to get 3 blow jobs a week, and yet, I can count on one hand how many times he went down on me. This was the type of guy who didn’t give during foreplay but was always a receiver. He was the type of guy who thought that sex was only about intercourse. How could I have not seen any of the signs before? He was a total asshole who wanted our sex life to rotate around his needs, which it did, for awhile, when the relationship was new, we were both horny, and fucked each other into comas at least 3 times a week.

But people change and so he did. After a couple of months, I began to notice that I only had nightmares when he slept over. Could being so physically close to the source of my emotional stress have effected my sleep?

Yes, it could. I was done arguing with him about sex. He didn’t want to have sex? Fine. I told myself after several weeks of trying to compromise. So I took sex out of the equation. He wanted sex only when he was horny? I was incapable of switching my libido on and off at his whim and just stopped wanting sex from him altogether. I stop wanting sex? That means I’m off being a slut when he’s not around, because, according to his logic, “If you’re not asking for it, that means you’ve been getting it from somewhere else.” The fights stopped ending at good night. Being near him caused my subconscious mind to attack itself in my sleep. He was a disease and yet, I could not cure myself of him.

Our breakup was the best thing that could’ve happened in our relationship. What would’ve been even better is if I’d never met him at all. Maybe that sounds harsh given that when he broke up with me, through a text message (what kind of grown ass man breaks up with someone through a text message??), he did the whole, “Maybe we can be friends in the future” bit. Which I totally slapped down immediately by calling him a creative host of foul names and telling him that I’d never want to be friends with him.

And I didn’t. Until the withdrawals kicked in. I read an article that said relationships are like addictions; you get used to having someone on a regular basis and when it ends, your mind and body have to go through an adjustment period to recalibrate, a detox. I call it detoxing because I have never been with another man who was so toxic to my self-esteem, someone who crushed my libido (which is very difficult to do, by the way), and tried to crush my spirit.

But I survived. And, so surviving, I was a little more than elated when he finally threw in the towel like a little bitch. It’s amazing the kind of shit I had to put up with for someone who wasn’t even capable of becoming a better person to make the relationship work.

For the next few days, I was nightmare free, my emotions up and down, crying then laughing, then crying again. But I was finally free from the nightmares, and sleep could be a haven again. Then a month passed and it was really starting to feel like he wasn’t coming back. That’s why they compare loving someone to an addiction. You don’t want to want them but, their body is so familiar, kisses their lips feels like coming home, and when he gets you high, you’re in the stratosphere…but when he does you wrong, you are in hell, you feel like hell, and for some, you get nightmares, nausea, heart burn.

I guess sometimes you have to survive nightmares before you can have dreams. I wouldn’t know…I no longer have nightmares about him, but I’m still single and waiting warily for someone who comes into my life like a dream, but also makes reality worth dreaming about.

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Maple Summers

Believes in freedom. Helping to bring openness to a sexually repressed country. Eradicating slut-shaming. Defending women of all walks. Encouraging explorative and healthy dating and relationships.

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