Walking on Eggshells

walking on eggshellsShe’d walked on eggshells in hiking boots.  She’d walked across eggshells in heels.  She’d even walked on eggshells in bare feet.  It didn’t matter how delicately she stepped.  She’d tried to step around them.  She knew the eggshells would cut the soles of her feet.  And still – every day – she walked on eggshells.

She could tell you how long she’d been at it – since before she’d married him.


Every morning, she’d walk into the kitchen and there they were – the shells scattered across the hardwoods.  She would step around them and grab for the broom.  She’d sweep up the pile as he was leaving for work.  All day long, she’d walk through the kitchen and notice that the shells were gone, but the minute she heard his car in the drive, the shells would reappear.

She’d find herself stepping over eggshells for the rest of the evening.  She’d serve his dinner while crunching over shells.  She’d clean up the kitchen while stepping on still more shells.  Most nights, there was nothing she could do or say that would make them go away.  But once in a great while, she’d do something right – she couldn’t even tell you what it was, but she’d look over her shoulder and the shells would be gone.

And everything would be right in the world.  He’d smile at her and invite her to sit next to him on the couch while they watched a show.  She’d settle in and feel safe.  She’d wonder if she held her breath, just maybe this moment might last.  It’d be time for bed and she’d sneak into the kitchen – afraid of seeing the shells – and to her great surprise, the shells would be nowhere in sight.  She’d turn off the light and climb the stairs to bed.  She’d think to herself, “I’m going to do the same thing tomorrow.  I’m go to say the same exact thing tomorrow, and there will be no eggshells.”


Morning would come and she’d bounce down the stairs full of hope at having found the cure to the eggshells.  She’d turn the corner from the living room and he’d be sitting at the dining room table.  He’d look up from the paper and say, “Are you going to sweep up those eggshells, or do I have to do it?”

She’d reach for a cup and pour some coffee.  She’d try to remember what it was she’d said last night.  But last night the situation was different.  Those words wouldn’t help this morning.

And so she was back to walking on eggshells, and wondering what she could do differently.


You might be wondering why she continued walking on eggshells for so many years.  She often wondered that herself.  If pressed, she might tell you, “I keep trying because I know how sweet he can be.  He’s capable of being kind.  He’s capable of showing love.  I’ve seen his tender side.  He has shown me his warmth.  He just can’t be that person every day.  I don’t know why.  I’m sure it isn’t his fault.  It must have something to do with me.  If I could just find the one thing to do or say that would let him be his kind loving self, we’d be happy.”

And so she continues walking on eggshells.

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  1. Jesse,

    This is such a vivid picture of what it is like to endure the certain uncertainty of living with a N. Things are on their terms but even then it never works. The eggshells always reappear and most often when you think you are in the clear and you let your guard down.

    I do not miss my stomach going into a knot when his car would pull up to the house at the end of the day. I do not miss living in fear and anxiety.

    Peace be with you and yours and mine and all those healing from walking on eggshells.

  2. Lynn,

    No one should have to live like that.

    Peace to you and yours, as well.

  3. Did you ever want to stomp them into little pieces? I did. :p

  4. Z,

    Yes! Lots of stomping. I also wanted to scoop them into a dustpan, and throw them (with the dustpan) at him.

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