Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Behind The Glass

***Submitted by Ellie, and originally posted at One Crafty Mother

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.  

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.



  1. that.is.awesome. thank you for writing. hope it saved one more woman. *gentle hugs* make today GREAT~

  2. Thank you. I needed some support today to stay sober. In these details, I saw myself topping off the wine glass before emptying it, time after time. I managed to drink a whole bottle of wine just drinking one glass! The magical illusion of an alcoholic.

  3. Beautifully said.

  4. you captured the emotions and feelings of what my life used to be like so perfectly.

    I love this sentence -- "In order to be free of the glass, though, you have to admit it's there, and that it is slowly suffocating you."

    Thank you.

  5. Thank you for your honesty. The thoughts that swirl and swirl and swirl.

    Thank you.

  6. This is why I don't drink anymore. You've articulated it beautifully. Thank you.

  7. I am still there, trying to get out, Thank you.