Breaking Free

As told to Sarah Massry

I woke up from a fitful sleep to the sound of rhythmic breathing in my bedroom. I glanced at my husband Yaakov’s bed. It was empty. Again. What I was hearing was the breathing of my toddler, who had climbed into my bed at some point in the night.
I glanced at the digital alarm clock. It was 2:48 a.m.
I checked my cell phone lying on the night table. Yaakov hadn’t called. Where was he? Was he okay? Had something happened to him?

I was furious but also very frightened. Where in the world was my Yaakov? How could he do this to me? Again. How could he scare me like this? Again.
I called his number. The call went straight to voice mail.
How could he do this to me?

I tossed the phone back onto the night table, my hands shaking. Just go back to sleep; he’ll show up soon, I commanded myself. The kids will be waking up in a few hours and they’ll need you. Then there’s a full day of work ahead. I desperately needed my sleep. But how could I sleep?

Yaakov finally stumbled into the house at 3:30 a.m.
“Where were you?” I whispered, trying not to wake up my toddler. “I was worried sick!”
Yaakov just shrugged, his face expressionless. “I told you to just go to sleep and not to worry. I was out taking care of something. I got tired, so I pulled off to the side of the road and fell asleep.”

I knew there was something very wrong with Yaakov’s story. But I couldn’t think about that right now.The kids would be waking up way too soon. I fell back into a restless sleep, wondering once again how our lives had spiraled so out of control.

It began shortly after we moved to Lakewood. For the first five years of our marriage, we had been living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in Flatbush. With the rental market so expensive, we decided to move to a development in Lakewood where we could get a lot more space for our money.

The move was rough. Financially we got slammed. I had been making a very nice living in Brooklyn; I was unable to find a lucrative job in Lakewood. The move was especially traumatic and stressful for Yaakov. He was still commuting to the city to his job. He was suffering from insomnia, which made him withdrawn and exhausted all the time.


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