By Shayne Terry <email@example.com>
Submitted October 2002
Summary: An insight into the mind of Ellen Lane.
She hurtles through life as though she has a death wish, pushed by demons from her past, demons I had a hand in creating. This was my legacy to my daughter, and I'll always regret that. I dread the news. Everyone has reason to be afraid, but I have more reason than most. My daughter is a reporter, and she risks her life for no better reason than to prove herself worthy of her parents' love. If she dies, it'll be my fault.
Neither of my daughters think much of me. I accepted that long ago. They've seen first hand the weakness that pounds at the edge of my consciousness; they suffered most when I retreated, leaving them alone in the time of their greatest need.
I want a drink. I've wanted one every day for the last fifteen years. You'd think the need would fade with time, but it never has, not for me. Not a day goes by when I don't think about it, crave it, desire the temporary peace it would give me. I know what it would do to me, do to those I love, and yet the desire never leaves.
Weakness is never something that Lois was willing to show. She despised me for mine. I suppose it was inevitable that she turn to her father; every little girl yearns to be adored by a father who loves her. Unfortunately, Sam wasn't the man he should have been; no matter how much Lois struggled, she could barely get his attention.
Lois thinks Sam always wanted a boy, and that is the reason he never accepted her. It's an excuse, of course. Sam would have been the same emotionless bastard if she'd been a boy; he always was an equal opportunity offender.
They say a woman marries her father, and I suppose that's true in a way. I've never had good judgment in men, and as far as I can see, neither has my daughter. I can only hope that she escapes the trap that I did. Clark seems like a good man, but I worry.
Seeing her travel the same path I did is agonizing. Having her ignore my advice is even worse. I feel like Cassandra, the seeress in ancient Greek myth, gifted with prophecy yet doomed never to be believed. My daughter is headstrong, determined to make her own way in life, to prove to her father that she is good enough for him, good enough to be noticed.
No matter what she does, he'll never notice her any more than my own father noticed me. I see the parallels with my own life, and I cringe as I think of her going through what I did. We leave a legacy for our children with each day we have them in our care. The lessons they learn are not always the lessons we intended to teach.
I see Lois using work as a way of escaping from pain, from the loneliness that threatens to overwhelm her, and it frightens me. She travels the same path her father and I traveled, but she does so with a reckless disregard for her own life. At least as a nurse I wasn't facing death on a daily basis.
I know what it's like to lose oneself in one's work. I was a nurse and I was good at what I did. I made people better, and that was enormously gratifying. That it took me away from family and friends never bothered me, because the work was all I needed. My co-workers were my friends, my family, my life. During long, nighttime shifts, it was easy to think of my life with my family as though it happened in another world.
While I had my work, I could cope with all the pressures of the world; a cold husband who didn't love me, a pair of daughters who were increasingly difficult to handle, and all the day to day challenges of a life I never felt fully prepared to handle.
How Sam convinced me to come work with him is something I can never seem to remember, but it marked a turning point in my life. I felt as though my feet had been knocked away from me. In the hospital, I'd been able to immerse myself in work, to stop thinking entirely until a twelve-hour shift was over.
Sam's practice wasn't anything like that. He worked with rich, spoiled athletes, spending much of his time on call. Other than assisting in the occasional surgery performed on an injured knee, I had all the time in the world to be by myself, alone. I had time to think, and that was never something I wanted.
For the first time I had the time to see the damage that had already occurred to my family; Lucy's clinginess, Lois's stubborn determination to prove herself worthy. I couldn't deny the truth before my own eyes; I'd allowed my family to fall apart. I'd married a cold, distant man, and I'd abandoned my children for the work and acclaim I'd always craved.
At Metropolis General Hospital, I had been valued. At home, I wasn't any more successful than Lois at getting Sam's attention. When I first learned of Sam's other women, I blamed myself.
We argued and he told me I wasn't good enough for him, and I believed it. It seems foolish now, but it fit in with a lifetime of experience. I became a nurse in the first place to prove my father wrong, to prove to myself that his drunken claims that I was worthless, that I'd never amount to anything weren't true.
No matter how much success I found as a nurse, I could never escape the feeling, deep down, that he was right. Now, hearing my husband say the same things, I was crushed.
The first drink was hard, but the next was easier, and the third was easier still. Now that I only had to work with Sam's limited roster of patients, there didn't seem to be any point in keeping myself sober. Sam didn't work with the sort of people who really needed my help.
Drinking was easy. You could say it came naturally for me.
I don't really remember much until the divorce. I drowned my own pain as my father had his and his father before him. Sam didn't really care until it started to affect my work; he was too busy with his own succession of floozies to really notice much about his home life.
Lois was left to raise Lucy as best she could.
Children are amazingly easy to scar. It's frightening how easy it is, really. The divorce was hard enough. Living with the girls after was even harder. I shudder now at what I put them through.
Sam never should have abandoned the girls, left them in the care of a drunk unable to even take care of herself, much less someone else. The days and weeks following his leaving were incredibly hard for the girls. My drunkenness was even harder.
I only hit Lois once, and that was the day I put the bottle away forever. No matter what Lois and Lucy believe, I do love my daughters. My love for them both is all that got me through those first, horrible days. With luck, they'll never understand just how much courage it took to wake up each morning and face the bleary prospect of another hateful day.
My daughters don't hate me. They do something far worse; they dismiss me. I hear my own voice sometimes, becoming strident and shrill as I desperately try to get them to listen to me. Neither of my daughters want to spend time with me. I know it, and it hurts.
I've seen the bond that Lois is developing with Martha Kent, and bile rises to the back of my throat every time I think of it. Jealousy is an ugly, bitter emotion, but it's not one that I can control. I'm the one Lois should turn to, the one she should feel safest with. I'm her mother, and I can't help but feel that I'm losing her.
Yet the harder I try to hold on to her, the faster she slips away. I'm an afterthought in my daughter's lives, an obligation that has to be met on special occasions and then forgotten about for the rest of the year. I've become useless to everyone.
So I fill my time with charity work, with dresses and parties and anything I can to forget my own loneliness. I'd jump at the chance to become part of my daughters' lives again, but I made my bed long ago, and now I have to live with the consequences.
Lois pushes herself because I didn't love her like I should when I had the chance. She takes insane risks to prove herself to the man I chose. Her choices in men haven't been any better than mine were, at least from what little I hear. She claims that Clark Kent is different, and I deeply want to believe that, but we've both been burned too many times to want to see her hurt again. He's too handsome, even more than Sam was in his day, and handsome men always mean trouble. That she'd be working with him every day only makes things worse.
I know that all men aren't bad, but I have to be suspicious of any man I'm attracted to, and my daughter's choices aren't any better. I liked Lex Luthor when I first met him; I was as dazzled by his wealth and power as anyone. When I heard my daughter expressing doubts, though, I knew with a cold certainty that it was wrong. In the end, I don't think either of us will ever be able to trust our own judgment.
Lois claims to have the man of her dreams, the possibility of the sort of life I was never able to give her, and yet she still does her best to throw her life away, day after day. I'm afraid for her, yet the best I can do is complain that she doesn't call often enough.
I know Lois would never accept my advice about this. She dismisses my fears for her safety. I'm afraid to push too hard for fear that she'd be driven to take more risks, that she might slip at some critical point and take the final plunge that ends everything.
No parent should ever outlive their child; for that matter, no one should ever be left to live out their lives alone.
I *really* want a drink.