Breaking the Fourth Wall

I think I’m going through a mid-life crisis and I think I know why. I came within an ace of spilling my guts just now, which is what any sensitive, hurting person with troubles would do, but then I remembered how paranoid I get about the Internet. Normally I might dig deep and write a story with all kinds of metaphor and truth and the occasional subliminal message, but that never seems to be cathartic enough. Or maybe it is, but I have such a backlog to work through that I’m too busy wondering if the tub is draining to realize I should really be breaking it up with a sledge. Or at least, stop filling the damn thing. There I go, Captain Metaphor.


I have only ever been to therapy, that is, the conversational kind, once. And by once, I mean thirteen or so sessions around a single question… should I stay together with my partner? I didn’t learn a hell of a lot, though the question got answered, and I shrugged my shoulders and renewed my distrust of mental health professionals. Too many opinions, not enough fact. I am a fact guy, at least, I want to believe I am a fact guy. I try not to deal with moral implications, opinions, judgments. I just want to get to the bottom of things. And often, the thing I find myself getting to the bottom of is a glass. I find myself in liquid therapy often enough.


Death plays a big part in my life. I think about it all the goddamn time. I sometimes look at the world and feel like everyone around me is dying, and of course they are, aren’t they? But that’s a pretty half-empty way to look at the glass, and by now you’ve guessed my philosophy about half-empty glasses. Might as well empty it.


I look back on my accomplishments, my résumé, my record… all of them judgments, if you really think about it… and I see all the times I’ve let people down. I see everyone I’ve left, everyone I’ve run away from, everyone I’ve tried to be. I get so lonely because what I do over and over again is disappoint people. I fail. I don’t keep them alive.


At least, that’s what I told the glass.


Now here’s the funny part: if you knew me, Internet Friendo, you’d scarcely believe any of this. “Good Ol Max,” you’d say, if that was my name. “I’ve always liked his stuff. Why isn’t he published, I mean really? That thing about the mid-life crisis… damned sharp stuff. Chilled me to the bone, really brought it home. Such an ability to burrow into the human condition.” And who knows? Maybe you’d be right. Maybe I am an awesome fiction writer with a keen observation and an ever-ready pen, said the New York Times.


Disappointment? Sure, that happens. So what? Who cares what other people think? They’re too busy letting down each other to give a rat’s ass about you. Do you suppose the pain you cause them lingers? What a monumental ego. Why not just admit that the only person who has seen all your failures is the only one capable of condemning you, and redemption lies in telling that asshole to step the hell back and stop staring at you from the surface of the whiskey. And no, Virginia, I ain’t talking about God.


I came within an ace of spilling my guts just now. But in the end, I decided to just pull my coat on and count myself lucky. Sorry if the story was disappointing.


About ernestwhile

I live in New York City. I built a world of Lego bricks, colorful and simple and foreign. I've been picking it apart ever since.
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10 Responses to Breaking the Fourth Wall

  1. jayne says:

    I toss buckets of my guts out, but never all of them. I don’t think it really me feel better so I say you have good control. The older I get, the more I think – stuff it down or take care of it. Aging a little more…I say, “fuck it” but that’s only when I can’t make a choice to do anything about whatever is bothering me. I get in a similar mindsets where all I see is the atrophy physically, socially, naturally, personally. That view is from a dark ledge over a chasm so I back away and look elsewhere. I THINK of having a drink but I’m afraid that drinking will soak me with the darkness. Look away and change your view. Go look at some beauty somewhere. Jayne

  2. Delilah says:

    Get out of my damn head already. I’m pretty sure we are the same person…only my filter is broken so I do share too much…all the time. I could drown in a drink today too.

  3. No dissapointment. Well written. Heart felt. We must be twins and you wrote about me. I’ve thought about starting another blog under a different name so I can spill and free myself of tortuous guilt over Shit that probably only I remember. The whiskey sounds good too.

  4. Marian Green says:

    An “empty” glass is still full. Full of potential for whatever you choose to put in it next. So you can empty it again and again. There is something about you and your writing that empties me. Or does it cause me to pour out myself? Or are they one in the same? And does the difference matter.

  5. “Liquid therapy.” God, I want to say that every day.

  6. vonzex says:

    After reading this I’d like to recommend Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. It’s metaphorical enough to appeal to you, but deeply logical. In fact, the therapy in question is called Logotherapy.The book is about his experiences during the Holocaust and his consequential founding of a branch of psychotherapy concerned with existentialism, which is more or less what you seem to be struggling with. It’s not a gushy self-help book. You’ll learn of the grueling shit the guy had to do in concentration camps on a day-to-day basis and how he found the will to live.

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