I’ve been cigarette free for five weeks, tomorrow. My month anniversary of being cigarette free has come and gone without mention because I don’t care anymore.
Have you ever heard anyone use the phrase “the elephant in the room” to describe something so glaringly obvious that you can’t ignore it? Well, I’ve had an elephant following me around for about a week now. (By a week, I mean a few years. By a few years I mean, since I was about 14.)
This elephant transforms so often that for short periods of time I forget it’s an elephant. Sometimes, it presents itself as a shadow. It can be something harmless and usually ignored, but as long as the sun is shining- it’s around and stuck to me.
Sometimes the elephant is very clearly an elephant. It’s monstrous size is overwhelming, I wonder how can this thing fit in my room/car/work space/shower stall?! Then I realize this elephant is all in my head. When the elephant is an elephant, it’s obvious… to me.
Imagine you’ve been caring for this elephant for a long time. It requires a large daily feeding of your mental energy. It loves to snack on your already thin patience. It thrives on slurping down your happiness. It parades around you, eagerly scarfing down your sense of self-worth until you have nothing left to give it. So it sits there, staring you down, waiting for more. Whether you’re sitting, standing, driving, talking, eating, showering, whatever: feeling like you have nothing left in the reserve to offer; it continues to stare you down- wanting.
But like I said, sometimes it’s just a silly shadow. At times, you’re flying above this little box of clumsily placed things that is your life. The poorly crafted shoe box diorama below you seems like a valiant effort and it’s good enough, you’re satisfied for the moment!
It’s like you can’t even see that you painted this the wrong color or that you used way too much glitter glue. All your problems and shortcomings are so tiny in the grand scheme. Then you see that unsightly shadow, mimicking your every movement, following you, no matter where you go. Serving up an ugly reminder that once you make your landing, you’re going to have to feed this thing once more.
So you start trying to avoid the almost-real-enough elephant in the room.
You do things that help you escape from the present.
You do things that keep you hovering above ground, anything to stay away from this large terrestrial beast. But while you’re up there in the clouds, you lose sight of something very important: maintaining an outward appearance of normalcy.
People start noticing that you’ve been drinking a lot or doing more drugs than normal, (is there a normal amount of drugs to do?) They notice that lately, you’re always looking tired or disheveled. That you cry, hard, over nothing at work or school or the grocery store check out line, in front of people you barely know, who all look at you like you have leprosy. You think maybe they can see the elephant too. Turns out they can’t. They never can.
They can only see the remains of what your pet has left you with for the day. You’re just that weird girl.
The real problem is, how do you explain the elephant in the room to someone who can’t see it?