I bought a new bed a few months ago.
The bed in the box kind.
At the time I bought it, I was with a guy I adored. Although he may not have deserved it.
He was someone I thought would stick around. Someone I was excited to share this bed with. We joked about christening it when it arrived.
Our relationship ended before that happened.
The space next to me at night, where he was supposed to be…I focused on it for weeks, pining for him, desperate to feel anything but this pain. I never rolled over to the side that was his, the side he never truly earned anyway. Never leaned into the pillow his head used to rest on. Never searched for his scent. Just felt his painful absence and the silhouette of misery weighing beneath those sheets.
I’ve shared many beds with many men. I can remember how each bed memorized my curves. Had my most recent love interest felt the emptiness where I use to rest? Had any of them? Was I also this looming phantom always resting in their beds along with whatever lovers currently existed there?
These thoughts sickened me. For weeks, I hadn’t always looked forward to going to bed—but I always took anger there. It was far from enjoyable.
Pains of past lovers—all of them—helped mold apprehension within my own form. I’m now reluctant about any future possibility of sharing a bed, my bed, any bed, with anyone.
Beds are safe havens. Places of comfort. Places of love. Places of dreams. Places of Sunday mornings sleeping in. Or late evenings reading books. Places for rest and recovery. The place you could wake up to a new dawn.
I hadn’t witnessed a new and refreshing dawn for weeks.
I had invited somebody into this bed. I had welcomed others into the bed I owned before this one. They had invited me into theirs too. What energies had they left behind in their silent wake? What energies had I left behind, if any at all?
Each night, I habitually returned to the foamy space where I would curl up and fade into dreams. Each night, I thought about how he wasn’t there. How he could’ve been there if he had just tried a little harder. Each night, it all felt a little less painful than the night before. Each night I still wallowed in a perfectly comfortable cloud of my own loneliness. I didn’t know time passing and time slumbering was healing my poor, poor heart.
One day, I would wake to a new day. I just didn’t know when.
For the weeks that followed, I watched my life transform—slowly, but dramatically. In ways I desperately needed it to.
It started with escapes into dozens of stories written by others. Transitioned to sharing my own stories here. Next, came a new job—a pinnacle of happiness after months of searching for one. Then, came November, a month of me filling hundreds of pages with my own words to satiate NaNoWriMo’s goal. November was a full month spent honoring my mortality and celebrating another full year added to my age.
I couldn’t tell you when it all happened, but most of my anger evaporated, disappearing into thin air. Leading the way for a safe space to grieve and let go. Coming to terms with the last person’s departure, how it resembled the same withdrawn strut as all others who had left before him. I discovered my anger was just another face for my sadness.
Soon my bed was filled with wilder dreams, fewer tears, fewer overthought scenarios on things I should have said and done.
November ended, but everything I was working toward continued on, like a blazing fire swarming acres of deadwood. I was burning the old me alive, paving a fertile ground that would sprout things far more rewarding. My new reality as a woman moving on, as a woman cultivating two realities—the physical one and the one soon to exist in book form. I was so busy with those two lives, I forgot about the third and sad life I had been living before.
Cold turkey, I stopped carrying my anger and sorrow into bed with me.
On a cooler evening, when the snow was a dusted layer of white outside, I shuffled into my bedroom. Switching off the orange glow of my salt lamp, I closed the white blinds and slid into bed, letting the weight of my down comforter anchor me into this puff of restfulness. I slipped into the place that was once a discomforting darkness. Before falling asleep, a realization struck me.
No one has slept in this bed but me.
This realization would’ve once been a depressing thought—had I thought of it months ago. A bed half-empty sort of attitude. Examining this thought months later, it was now a liberating one. A bed half-full attitude instead.
In the months after I’d unrolled this heavy bed by myself, cutting away layers of impossible plastic, I had only seen it from one disappointing perspective. As a single bed half empty.
This bed. It belongs to no one but me.
That’s the first I’ve been able to say that in years. Every year, at least one person has shared my bed with me. Who would’ve fathomed a new bed to be this freeing? The ghosts of past lovers—they no longer rest here. I threw them out with the old and deflated mattress on the curbside for Ray, the mattress disposal expert, to pick up.
No old or new lovers could claim the other half of my bed now. Not without my permission.
This new bed, however odd, is a symbol of a new phase of this odd, single life I’m living. I sleep in all corners of this bed now, spreading my fingertips to each corner to fill all the spaces. Looking forward to each night I will doze there. Anticipating the many new dawns that will meet me at my window. Elated that this bed will never be linked to the body of another. At least not for a while. Not without first earning a place there.
With this bed, I started over. Made a safe space again. Filled it with a love that didn’t include the validation of another. Made it a place of peaceful rest. Flipped through pages of stories. Slept peacefully on Sundays. I allowed it to be an untamed landscape and blank canvas for all of my dreams to gloriously unfold. I dubbed it mine.
Of all the beds I’ve laid in—this one is my favorite.