never quite as it seems.

I hear the chiming of the alarm as if it is both off in the distance and right against my ear. I wish I could say I jolt awake, saddened to leave the dream space, but I don’t.

I am relieved to wake up . . . and angry.

I roughly adjust my pillow as my beloved tells me he’s hit the snooze so I can rest a little while longer.

I am less than gracious.

In my dream, he’s been texting another behind my back, wooing her, allowing her to stroke his ego and his lust, and the roiling cauldron of emotions that is my heart is ready to spill over and burn everything.

And the damage is focused on him.

This happens every month. Every moontime, my hormones work with my subconscious brain to conjure up my worst fears—abandonment and betrayal—and plague me with nightmares the entire cycle.

I wake up emotionally wrung out, exhausted, cheeks wet with tears and eyes swollen with more. It’s like a dam inside me breaks, and I am the town that drowns.

And if that were not enough, there is the guilt. The guilt of knowing he is a good man, a decent man, a loyal man. He has never betrayed me, never strayed. Each time it happens, he asks if I am okay, holds my hand when I wake from these dreams. He wraps his arms around my waist and kisses away my tears. He sees I am in pain and shakes his head in disbelief at the absurdity of my mind while also comforting me because he knows the fear is one I cannot shake and cannot change. He has had almost 21 years of my dreams, so he has found the best way to help is to be present, to listen, to not be defensive or offended.

After all these years, he knows I don’t mean it, can’t help it.

Nevertheless . . . I am a mess of frayed nerves, raw and ready to react.

I want to lash out at him, hit him, hit anything to make the pain of what my brain produces pale in comparison to what my hands can do. But, instead, I cry. I cry until I get all the words out, until I exorcise the dream specter hanging over me. I tell him how he hurt me in the dream, how angry I am, how I feel crushed beneath the weight of despair my brain has created, and he listens. Reassures. Soothes.

I hiccup and sigh and the feeling of safety begins to settle on my shoulders like a blanket.

I am okay. We are okay. I am safe.

Until next month.