In the small hours, Al's 'action dreams' kick in. Can't call them nightmares. Not for him anyway.
His dreams involve sudden violent jerks and starts; actions, like flinging his hand back and smashing the bedhead - catching a basketball, he said on waking, because he'd actually hurt himself. Or leaping over the side of the bed to land on all fours on the polished boards, seeming so surprised to wake up and find himself down there. Last week, making some gruff devil noise, he snatched the pillow out from under my head. He's also given me a few quick boxing jabs in my belly - as many as he could get in, apparently, before I woke and stopped him by yelling, and clouting him back.
He apologises then falls immediately back to sleep. The dreams continue for a couple of hours, with me waking him when he's at risk of harming himself or me. I'll manage a couple of hours' sleep before the alarm goes off. Given his dreams, me having diabetes and checking my blood sugar for possible hypos and the fact that I've always been inclined to insomnia, it's no wonder I've got black rings under my eyes. I tend to hit a wall early in the afternoons that has me struggling through meetings. (And they're invariably tedious, repetitive and useless, which doesn't help at all.)
Al's sort of dream disorder was explored on Embarrassing Bodies a couple of weeks back. A night vision camera filmed this man and his wife. In the green light we saw him sit up and peer around, walk, all while soundly asleep.
Al's done lots of this in his time. It's usually prompted by him needing the toilet. Occasionally I've had to steer him towards the bathroom, given he's opened the wrong doors - a cupboard, the kids' bedrooms. A few times he's lined up a convenient corner or other 'receptacle'. See, I have to be vigilant.
The 'action dreamer' on Embarrassing Bodies began to resolve his issues through anger management counselling as opposed to medication. In his case, therapy revealed that he did have anger issues.
I suggested to Al that he might need therapy. He says not. "I'm just taking a protective role in something I've seen on TV. Don't you ever do that?"
Perhaps, but it's all happening in my head. I don't act it out.
Last night I could no longer tolerate Action Man. Given I now have a made up 'guest room' where son Pete used to be, I grabbed my pillow, jelly beans and blood testing gear and abandoned the marital bed.
Still took me an age to get back to sleep, given I was mulling over the significance of us not sleeping -as if - together. I'm not into separate beds as a solution.
Then I dreamed bizarre extra-worldly colourful markety narratives. I can't remember why I was riding elevators and escalators. Too strange. Waking up, again, had to grope around in the dark for a distant light switch so I could check to make sure I wasn't hypo. I was okay.
Probably after five, I fell into a desperate recurring dream. Won't bore you with the details, but in these dreams, Al finally, inevitably realises that he got a bum deal with me, and sometimes the kids, and he decides to leave. In last night's dream he was taking his chances with a young adoring athletic woman with wild springy curls. As usual, nothing I can say or do will make him stay with me.
And then I wake up, sobbing - yes, my own action dream - in my freaking guest room. I listen for Al moving around the house getting ready for work. Nothing. I stumble through to our room and he's made our bed. I was going to get back into it. I'm even sadder. We haven't spoken this morning and I can't bear it.
Seven-thirty and I stagger through to the kitchen. Clearly he's gone to work and didn't want to wake me. I'm still sad from my dream. It's as though he really has left me this time.
Over by the kettle, he's made me a thermos of real Earl Grey tea. He's warmed my special mug by half-filling it with boiling water which is still hot.
Why do I worry? Back for more action dreaming tonight.