Empty Egg (or how to make your own coffee)

I have a problem with jealousy. It’s not a small problem. It’s not an idiosyncrasy or a cute quirk. It’s a looming, strangling flaw that has suffocated more relationships than I’d like to admit. Most of them, to be honest. Okay. All of them. And the ones it hasn’t killed, it’s prevented. No one wants to be new friends with an asshole.

My therapist (yes, I’m that girl. I’m starting a paragraph with “my therapist”, but come on. Look around you. Maybe more people should be doing this.) gave me a metaphor. He’s big on them and they tickle me.

This one involved brunch foods.

He really gets me.

First, we talked about coffee. The gist was that I’m an empty coffee cup. It’s my job to see that there is coffee in my cup. Not the cook’s. Not the waitress’. Mine. Others cannot be my coffee. They can be my Splenda. They can be my half and half. They can be my light soy foam. They can enhance, delight, make more aromatic and delicious. But other people cannot be the coffee. I have to be the coffee.

Next, we talked about eggs. My therapist described me as being a beautiful painted egg, artistic and engaging. But most painted eggs are hollow, the innards blown out through a tiny hole in the bottom. This makes them veneer thin and fragile. The slightest tap can shatter them. They are gorgeous. And the slightest wind will eradicate them.

That’s what happens to me. I want someone else to fill my mug.  If I encounter the slightest contrary force, I’m a mess of splinters. I’m a failed breakfast.

To get through life, I need coffee and eggs without the shell. And I need to be the one to order and make them.  I can’t let other people be my happy. I have to find or if I can’t find it, manufacture my own happy. If I can do that, fill the space with substance that sustains me, maybe I won’t be so easily broken.

Here’s the bug in that particular batter: when you are a parent, you rarely get to chase after your own fulfillment.

Now, I know that sounds awful. It sounds callous and selfish. As a parent, aren’t we told we should be filled with indescribable, ever-mounting daily joy, all the time, just because we have a child?

What if you’re not?

Don’t get me wrong. I love my son. With my entire soul. I love being with him. His laugh lights up my universe. When he’s not with me, it feels like my heart is bopping around the world without me. It’s crushing to go to sleep knowing he’s not in the next room.

But, the contrary is equally as strong and true.  Because I am a mother and I am committed to that job, and to raising a strong, capable, happy kid, I am usually unable to pursue my own happy.

Because simply being a mom isn’t enough to make me happy.

That’s horrible. It sounds horrible in my head and it’s horrible to see in print. But that’s what it is.

It hurt when I had to give up acting to be a mom. I resent that I can’t buy a decent camera to work on the photography I love because I have to pay for braces. And I am as bitter as that coffee I expect someone else to pour me every time I miss an opportunity to make a piece of art because I have to be at a school meeting or sit at an unending baseball practice.

And I’m not even good. It’s not as if the world is minus a master because I don’t have the time to put out another poem. But I feel it. And every time I see a friend or even my wonderful, generous partner succeed at their crafts, my own envy over takes me. I become as dark and toxic as yesterday’s espresso. It’s insufferable. I hear the words I say and I want to tear out my own tongue in disgust. That’s not me and I hate that woman. But she appears almost every day. I’m want to kill her.

The bleak reality is that there’s no good fix. I won’t spend less time and effort on my son. And I can’t put any more time into me. Therefore, I will continue to fall into deep caverns of rage, sadness and fuming jealousy.

And I know these are uptown problems. I can’t begin to even pretend I know what actual struggle is. If I was faced with the horrors people across this world are dealing with, I’d crumble. I’m not brave. I’m silly and vain and weak. I’m the woman Ruth Bader Ginsburg orders for brunch and spits out into her perfect napkin because goddesses like her don’t have time for slimy, fatty  omelets like me.

So, here with the computer and the silly words it is. Putting something out. Trying not to fall apart. Egg in the pan. Shells in the compost. Coffee in the cup. Trying  to add some light to the darkest  brew. I have to make my own coffee. Somehow find a way. I have to fill my egg with something. Because I don’t want to be a shell. I want to hold a life. Mine.



Alyssa Herron is a mom and author. The caliber of either is up for debate. Her new novel is available at Amazon.


Maybe It’s Supposed To Hurt

I’m trying to learn to play guitar. 

I’m failing at learning to play guitar. 

When I play, which I do try to do every day, it’s just awful. I try harder and it’s awful-er. I want to have talent so much and it bugs me that I don’t.(Yes, I know how ridiculous and worthless my entitled that sounds. Princess also wants a sailboat and a pink pug that barks to the tune of Beethoven’s Sonata 8.) Failing at things like guitar bug me so much and I get so wound about the metaphorical peg that I dig the wood of the curves into my legs. 

Kind of my leitmotif. 

And I don’t know how to loosen the strings.

Sometimes it’s a harmless and endearing quirk. Look, she gets shaky and high-pitched when asked to quickly choose an ice cream flavor! Adorable. 

(Not adorable. I picked uni-flavor frozen yoghurt because I didn’t want to be judged for the red velvet ice cream I really wanted. So much idiocy and suck.)

Sometimes, it’s a problem. Like when you melt (ice cream call back) at work because your kid’s been wearing the wrong uniform for weeks, and the friendly girls at the Catholic school calls to scold you. 

(Also, not fucking adorable. Interwebs clothing company, if you categorize uniforms by school, why is it even possible for me to buy the wrong shirts? I can’t negotiate that mess. I am a Jen, not a Roy or Moss, to those who know the reference. Just sell me the correct shit.)

And sometimes, it’s an absolute horror show. Now, I work in a hospital. Master’s educate. Clinician. Direct patient care. I really do get that bodies are fragile, sometimes offensive bits of carbon and effluvia. So, it makes no sense that I’d have such shame about my own and what it does. But, I was embarrassed by my physical self this weekend. And not because of how it looks. Details spared here, but Jesus Christ. (Catholic call back)

It was Carrie farting in front of Big level of mortification. And I don’t know why it crashed me. But it did. 

(Yes. I’ll also make a two decade old Sex and the City reference. Kiss my ancient, brittle, hag ass. )

The difference and the only saving salve of that mess was letting someone talk me down from the loft vibrations of my  high strung heights. 

I never do that. It’s smart and healthy and healing. Why would I do that? I’ve always chosen, CHOSEN, to stay pissed. To stay shamed. To stay hurt and full of my own needless guilt. I hang on to that shit with two closed fists like I need those ugly rotting feels to live. Why????

Who wants to spend a day like that? Who finds comfort in feeling like utter shit? Who actively tries to behave like the nightmare, asshole girl who is the tragic-but-true punchline to a sexist joke?

Apparently this broad. Yes. I know boys and girls. Ridiculously sexy and appealing. Queue forms to the left. Keep it orderly. Preference given to pixie-cuts and poets. 

If you want to learn how to push people out of your life at lightning speed, the the above instructions and tips. I’m a professional away pusher because of this. I feel something that hurts, like hurts usually do, and I push and blame and make being around me supremely unpleasant. And I see myself doing it. Split- screen brain screams “youredoingitahainstopniwimeanitknockitthefuckoff!!!!!”

No one likes a dick. I mean, they do, but not in this version of the movie. I want to stop being a selfish, high strung dick. 

I started. Somehow, mercifully, I actually let this one go. I let myself feel mortified, stayed there for a while but then I took the hand that was extended and crawled out into the world. 

Fuck that was big and scary. And this shows clearly my skewed perspective and priorities and vanity. Yes. Again, queue to the left. 

And it was okay. It was weird. Tried to joke about it. Kinda fell flat. Tried another  and that one hit. Everyone made it through to the morning. Tired as hell. But the bagels and coffee he gave me were delicious. 

So, loosen the strings. Ease up on that guitar. Having it cut into your skin won’t make Clair de Lune sound any less slow and painful when I fumble through it. But, if I keep reaching out my fingers, I just might find I make my through it. 

I hope there are coffees and bagels when I get there. Or even better, real ice cream.