The Anthology of Breaking: I Slept Well When You Were Gone


There is a universe where you exist better

You have loving parents

You are not neglected

Your mother does not call you a demon

Your father does not leave

You are not in pain


I slept well when you were gone

When you had left me

Not on Valentine’s Day when you actually left

No, that was a night of scratchy tears

After I had had to gather all of my soreness and pack it away for later

After the day was done

After I had performed and smiled in lifts and corridors and laughed at jokes around the open-plan

When I had gone to the bathroom to breathe into tissues, stifling tattering cries

After that

I slept better


I had no anxieties

I was not waiting for phone calls that would not come when promised

I wasn’t checking to see the end of football matches, to see when you would find the time to prioritise me


I wasn’t waiting for responses to my texts, wondering who you were responding to when you were online but not responding to me

Wondering who got to be prioritised

How they came to be prioritised by you

How they had earned it

Was that the reward for waiting, for being available, for being cheerful and listening endlessly, for being discarded, for forgiving, for explaining away, for allowing?

Was that the formula?

Or was it in being unavailable or not being too unavailable?

And how was I to get unavailable just right?

How many phone calls would I have to ignore?

How many texts would I have to respond with short and uninterested answers to?


I slept well

I nurtured no anxieties

My brain wasn’t turning against me

He loves me he loves me not he doesn’t love me

I wasn’t fighting my soul

I wasn’t silencing its voice

Its truths

He won’t stay

Valentine’s Day and all of its tears

Why have you let him back in?

Don’t you remember how he destroyed you the last time that he left?

Don’t you remember how he left you small?

He can’t stay

You cannot be small again

You cannot beg for love again

You cannot beg to be touched to be desired to be tasted to be wanted to be seen

He can’t stay


I slept well

The truths of my soul and myself were aligned

I had peace

I wasn’t disloyal to my soul

I was not betraying and reducing my soul

My skin glowed

It shone with happiness, peace, strength

It had the moisture of joy, freedom, autonomy

It belonged to itself, not dependent on the attentions of another

I slept well

I was free

Free of longing

Of anxiety

You need to leave

You can’t come back here

I am awake and you are squeezing my skin of all its moisture and stepping on my soul.


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash