Thursday, November 11, 2010

Behind The Glass

The house is still, quiet.  I should be sleeping.  

In a moment I'll head up to bed, but I treasure this time alone.   I lie on my couch in the semi-dark, and I breathe, sifting through moments from the day and savoring them like sweet treasures.

Tonight, though, my mind is tugged to you ..  the woman quietly crying, wondering how she ended another day with a glass in her hand, a nearly empty bottle calling to her from the kitchen.

You promised yourself tonight would be different.   You woke up feeling strong, determined, your softly pounding head thumping a beat to your misery.  Not tonight, you swore to yourself.    No more. 

Then four o'clock comes around, and the kids are edgy, restless.   You can't bear to fetch one more snack, answer one more unanswerable question.   You are bored, exhausted and empty.    There is homework to be done, dinner to prepare, endless nighttime rituals to perform.    The thought of giving the kids a bath without the soothing effects of wine seems preposterous, cruel.

Just one, you say.   Just something to dull the edges.   You want to find that loving place, the one full of warmth and light.  

You don't drink the glass all the way down before you fill it up, just a little.   Then a little more.   Then one with dinner.   When your husband steps out of the room for a bit, you drink one down quickly.   Just one.

That soft warmth turns prickly; the kids won't go to sleep, your husband makes a remark that settles on you wrong.   Just another sip or two, to push back the edginess, only enough to get back to the soft place.

You notice the bottle is almost gone.   You've done it again.

Tomorrow, you are telling yourself.   Tomorrow will be different.   

I'm thinking about you tonight, because the tomorrows will keep coming.   And coming.   In their wake they will leave the shattered remains of broken promises to yourself.  Everyone's needs are met but yours; you are left empty-handed, helpless and scared.

You have a secret.  You are looking at the world through glass.   I know, because I've lived there, too.   You press your nose up against its cool, tear streaked surface and you wonder:   what is wrong with me?  

You are dancing on that thin line between keeping it all together and falling apart.    The world doesn't know, but you do.   

You know.

You have built a house of cards around the not-knowing, but you do know.   You do.

I don't drink and drive, I only drink at night, I only drink wine,  I'm not the one falling down drunk at a party, not like so-and-so.  I need to drink to be creative.  To socialize.  To be a more patient mother.   

You look at your life the way the world sees you, instead of looking from the inside out.   Through their eyes, you look fine.  If you look good through their eyes, you must be okay, right?   The world can't see the glass, so as long as you keep moving you can pretend it's not there.

You have created the perfect movie set - props artfully arranged to present the perfect picture.   

And you?  You are in the audience, at a safe distance, watching your life play out on the screen.

I'm thinking of you tonight, as I listen to the creaks and groans of my old house, and hear my dog's contended sigh as she settles down for the night.   The clock ticks softly; the refrigerator hums.    I am here, just listening.   Just being.  

I am sitting quietly in my cozy home, listening to the echos of the day.  This sounds so small, so insignificant.    But it's not small to me.  There is no glass, you see.    The glass is gone. 

How do you make it stop?  How do you make the endless tomorrows stop coming?  That is what you want to know.

You make the endless tomorrows stop coming by being in today.   It's the only today you've got.

You can opt out, disappear behind the glass, or you can feel it.   All of it. 

Listen to those things you tell yourself; examine each card in that house you've built.    Turn it over, really look at it, and ask yourself: is this about living my life, or about hiding from it?

After you've been living behind the glass it's frightening to be on stage with the starring role in your own life.  The glare of the spotlight, the endless eyes watching you, expectantly; it is all overwhelming.   It will make you want to hide.   You will feel raw, vulnerable, exposed, uncomfortable.   

But only for a while.    With time you stop seeing the spotlight, stop wondering what the eyes are thinking.  You will feel comfortable, just being.    It will happen.

In order to be free of the glass, though, you have to admit it's there, and that it is slowly suffocating you.

That's a good place to start.

  

17 comments:

  1. Thanks for thinking of me. I was just having some of those exact same thoughts - this morning, didn't I think not tonight? And then beer got in my glass. What makes it difficult (one of the things, anyway) is that my days ARE good. I don't want my days to be bad, but sometimes I wonder if it would make a difference at night if they were.

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  2. This is exactly what it was like. I don't relate to the motherhood aspect, but I sure as heck recognize all the rest. Not having to live like that any more is the greatest gift ever.
    For any of you still living it - there is a better life out there. I wish it for us all.

    Beautiful, Ellie!

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  3. So well written. Thanks for sharing your heart.

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  4. Excellent post Ellie! Echoing my thoughts 21 months ago so well ... Thank you!

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  5. This is exactly how I felt too. You captured so many of the nuances of the feelings and justifications and regrets.

    Thank you!

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  6. Oh Ellie...
    SO good.
    SO true.
    SO powerful.
    SO getting posted on Facebook... :)

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  7. Wow, this was extremely profound...I"ve never seen it written so accurately. You are a complete treasure to so many. Thank you.

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  8. Today I drank again. I've been trying sobriety. Haven't been able to make it stick. Your post resonates with me. Thank you for reminding me about why I drink and why I want to be sober.

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  9. And you? You are in the audience, at a safe distance, watching your life play out on the screen.

    This is what I remind myself when I take yet another twitter break, check my stats again, write one more email..."Just one sec. Hon. I'll be right there. Just one more thing." And the toast is burned.

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  10. "How do you make it stop? How do you make the endless tomorrows stop coming? That is what you want to know."

    Yes. That is what I want to know.

    I'm glad I have you to write these things and to understand.

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  11. I read your blog, I relate to things you say..But what you wrote here literally took my breath away..I don't know if this is a positive or a negative (Am I an addict, etc) but I know I can't get your words out of my head..Thank you for vocalizing what I could only feel..

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  12. Wow, this was extremely profound...I"ve never seen it written so accurately. You are a complete treasure to so many. Thank you.

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  13. This is exactly how I felt too. You captured so many of the nuances of the feelings and justifications and regrets.

    Thank you!

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  14. So well written. Thanks for sharing your heart.

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  15. Thanks for thinking of me. I was just having some of those exact same thoughts - this morning, didn't I think not tonight? And then beer got in my glass. What makes it difficult (one of the things, anyway) is that my days ARE good. I don't want my days to be bad, but sometimes I wonder if it would make a difference at night if they were.

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  16. Thank you for this Ellie. Your description fits me and I am struggling to change. Its gotten to the point that I feel crappy for two whole days after drinking too much. Anxiety mostly, but also the dull headachey tiredness. You are an amazing writer and communicator. Please keep writing, I will stay tuned.

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