I am ashamed to admit I am not half as strong as I always thought I was. All it took was a hit to my vanity, my pride and I became a wallowing, wine-guzzling, whinny woman. That first afternoon when I came back home from getting my ankle monitor I sat there looking at that thing and feeling utterly defeated.
I remember popping open a bottle of wine, the sound of the cork no longer as cheery as it always had been. I sat (spilled myself) over the couch on the living room and stared at the thing on my ankle as if it was a snake about to strike. I hated it; hatred, however, seems to pale in comparison to what I was feeling, hatred is not a strong enough word for what I was harboring toward that beeping, blinking inanimate object that was now ruling my life.
Dear Husband arrived home to find me wrapped on my bathrobe, bottle completely gone, Max and Zoey looking at me like I had lost it. I wasn’t crying, just sitting there in the almost dark, staring at nothing. Poor DH must’ve thought I had finally cracked. Not yet, not quite yet.
The next day at work everyone seemed so upset on my behalf it soothed my ego a little, but the presence of the monitor was something I couldn’t ignore. I felt weigh down, as if it was something out of a King novel, determined to drag me to hell. That afternoon I also chose to drown my sorrows in wine. Thank God I am a wine drinker and not into hard liquor because I don’t think my liver would’ve survived the pace I seemed determined to set.
I knew this wasn’t a tragedy. Deep down, I knew that I was still in the country, surrounded by family, friends and coworkers who all offered their unconditional support. They didn’t see me any different; they didn’t think anything less of me because I was still me. When I looked closely at my feelings I realized that what I was feeling was anger and humiliation for the future, for that moment when someone I didn’t know would glimpse the monitor while I walked in my long pants, skirts, dresses and jeans and they would think ill of me, they would assume I had done something wrong. Why did I care? I don’t usually care what people think of the things I do or say. Yet the idea that they would think I had done something to deserve it was devastating. Image, apparently, is more important to me than I had thought. I was as vain as my DH sometimes jokingly (maybe not so jokingly) accused me of being. I take painstaking care of my appearance, my weight, my hair, my clothes. Why? Because I enjoy feeling pretty, I enjoy the look of respect people afford you when you are well dressed and well groomed. I enjoy the compliments on my style, my hair, and my outfits. All these are superficial accomplishments that I take an inordinate amount of pleasure in. I truly am vain.
I know my looks aren’t all I am. I knew and know still that the monitor wrapped securely around my ankle didn’t define me. I was still me. But I was afraid of the moment when someone outside my circle noticed it. What if they asked? What if they didn’t ask and I notice the look of doubt and derision? I would feel the need to explain, but why? They don’t know me. I don’t know them, why do I care? I don’t know why. But I did.
By day three DH was worried my liver was going to desert my body so he called my sister behind my back. He told her he was worried about how I was taking it and between the two they convinced me to go spend the weekend at my sister’s. It was my cousin’s birthday we would hang out, get drunk, have a BBQ by the beach in her apartment building and forget all about the monitor.
I didn’t feel like going, I didn’t feel like getting up and pretending I was okay with my current situation but I didn’t want to worry DH whose call to my sister for help is as uncharacteristic as me being sweet. He wasn’t used to be worried about me I got up and left.
Saturday morning at my sister’s I woke up to the monitors annoying beeping. I tried charging but a green light confirmed a full battery and after twenty minutes of “Leaving inclusion zone” droning it finally stopped. I called the number they had given me for emergencies but apparently they don’t work on weekends (which makes sense because why waste even more resources on someone who isn’t an actual danger to others). I left a message and left it at that. In the end it was a case of me being too close to the water (my sister lives by the beach) and the GPS signal was bouncing and it didn’t locate me. They didn’t care so I chose not to care either.
I had a great time that weekend. I saw my cousin’s baby, met the other cousin’s husband, saw their dad who had been a great uncle to me growing up and whom I hadn’t seen in ten years. I had more mojitos than I needed and ended up taking care of my drunk cousin and sister after a club.
I sat in my sister’s apartment drinking wine, eating cheese, talking about old times back in Caracas and my cousin whose twin sister had the baby looked at DH and myself, wrapped around each other on the couch and said to me in Spanish. “Chama, como se nota que esta super enamorado” (Dude, you can tell how much he loves you) . And I looked at him and smiled. Not the first and not the last honest smile of that weekend.
I came home somehow refreshed, and glad that I had all I had. I am so rich in every department I didn’t want to allow this to keep me down, bracelet or not I would be okay.