Kenneth L. Hardin: I’m fighting for a better relationship

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 21, 2022

Although I consider everyone who reads my weekly articles a close and personal friend, I’m not comfortable sharing too much of my personal life. I’ve found that some people will take your pain and use it as fodder for humiliation or manipulation.

So, I often choose to feed folks with that long-handled spoon to satisfy their need to know more about me. Today, I’m going to let my friends in because it may serve a purpose in helping someone else struggling, suffering in silence, or not knowing where to turn to seek help. This is a love letter to a relationship I should’ve worked harder to keep and maintain. Hopefully, someone else will find comfort in my words, and not make the same mistakes I did that nearly cost me a beautiful long-term relationship that was going so well at one time.

I’m diligently working on a difficult situation that could implode and then explode. I’ve tried to manage things on my own to improve the relationship but find myself sitting up at nights wondering when and where things went wrong. I pace the floor at night trying to think back on when things started to unravel and deteriorate to the point the relationship is now wallowing in. I didn’t want to seek outside help, but as things began to grow progressively worse, it was necessary to see an expert to get things back to the way they were years ago.

I miss the relationship we once had. Oftentimes, I sit up until the wee hours of the morning reminiscing on the times we enjoyed together and wondering why things began to change. Was it my long work hours that came between us? Did having kids take away from the time we used to devote to each other? I know there were so many times my community involvement and public service took priority. I would promise to do better, but I rarely did. I was burning that candle at both ends and down the middle, which left little time for you and what we used to share. The more I denied there was a problem between us, and tried to force time to spend together, it only made it harder to get back to what we used to have.

I enjoyed spending the hours with you when I was able to shut the world out and devote all my attention to you. If we could sneak in some time during the day together, well that was just bonus time that was so wonderful.

I knew something had to change when I stopped coming to bed at night altogether. I knew taking up refuge in the recliner or on the couch to avoid what I knew was the right thing to do was not smart, but I thought the absence might be what would bring me back to where I should be.

I’m sorry and I promise I’ll do better. I have to do better because I can’t take the separation much longer. Our issues have started to show on me physiologically as well. Not having you in my life has taken a toll on my physical and mental health. I’m having withdrawals from you, and so many coping mechanisms haven’t worked out. I’ve tried taking both prescription and over the counter medications to find balance with the hope it will bring me back into the relationship. I miss you so much. Since no one knows you, I wanted to keep your identity private, but I’m going to let everyone know how much I miss and need you, Sleep.

Now that you know there’s nothing deeply personal or salacious in what I shared, I hope you’ll stay until the end to get the message. I’ve shared my struggles with depression here previously in a transparent attempt to motivate my friends to take control of their mental health, so let’s add this one to our to-do list. A 2019 study by the American Sleep Apnea Association revealed that 38,000 people in the United States die each year from heart disease with sleep apnea as a contributing factor. Continuous lack of sleep has also been associated with hypertension, heart attacks and strokes, obesity, diabetes, depression and anxiety, decreased brain function, memory loss, weakened immune system, lower fertility rates and mental health disorders.

I still have a lot of work to put in to strengthen this relationship and get it back to where it used to be. I’m on a healthy lifestyle journey that includes making better food choices, getting up to move my body more, and losing weight. I can see the results paying off, and the next time we talk, my friends, I may be in love with Sleep again.

Kenneth L. (Kenny) Hardin is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. He can be reached at