01:45 the red glow on the clock blinked at her, almost mockingly she felt. She stuck her tongue out at the clock and rolled over again in the clean, fresh sheets, shut her eyes tightly and pushed her clenched fists into them. She had tried all kinds of tricks to try and relax –hot drinks, scented oils, warm baths, and had even resorted to (unsuccessfully) counting sheep. Why wouldnt her brain just switch off? Why did it have to be like this every night? Tossing and turning, her mind working overtime. She tried desperately to block out the thoughts that plagued her all night long. No amount of wine was enough to stop the thoughts from coming; no amount of exercise was enough to send her into the deep slumber she longed for. Even the school run, play dates and the daily antics and hectic social lives of her three children didn’t exhaust her enough. No, that’s wrong, she was exhausted! Completely! Physically, mentally and emotionally drained…it made no difference, sleep was no longer her friend. Five more months of this was going to kill her!
Vanessa was four weeks into her fifth operational tour as an army wife. This was nothing new to her, she was old school as far as forces wives go. So why was the first month proving so difficult this time? She was doing all the right things- keeping busy, having a social life (as much of a social life as she could manage, being on her own with three young children), attending the wives meetings, updating the rest of the family, not waiting by the phone, avoiding the news and generally getting on with day to day life. Everything was running smoothly, until she climbed into that big empty bed at night. She’d tried letting the children get in with her, but it always ended up with her carrying them back to their own beds in the early hours, after she’d had one too many feet in her face.