Don’t expect to get everything from one person, they say. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, they say. That’s OK because we involved in many many many relationships. Here are some of the ones we are in right this minute…
These are the terrorist friends: the ones that cock their head at you and say, ‘How’s the diet/love life/novel?’ The ones that complain bitterly when you cancel because you are so tired you are afraid to leave the house. The ones that send texts that say ‘We need to talk.’ The ones that you know you should walk away from – slowly backwards – like emotional landmines…
Even when you don’t recognise yourself in the mirror anymore. Who the hell even is that? Even when you don’t recognise your personality anymore. Where have you gone? Even when it all seems a bit unbearable and you feel ashamed. Even then, there might be one or two people who help you breathe. Who have real lightness of touch. Who relax you even though you feel that you might splinter. Who de-age 10 years. Rare these ones.
This is not a human relationship but rather the extreme codependence you have on certain online outlets and some actual shops. You feel personally attacked whenever dresses they stock are suddenly horrible devoré or when there is a grocery substitution. You are obsessed with their knickers/vitamins/saucepans/vacuum packed lamb but also angry at them all the time. You can’t live without them but also wish they would pull themselves together. If they were a boyfriend/flatmate/friend/employee you would have dumped them a long time ago. You feel panicky when you think about them not being there.
The oddly satisfying one, where you just pass the baton of dysfunction back and forth for hours or years until you are both sated by the horror of it all, all the cancers, the sad childhood stories, the ill parents, the loneliness, the fear, the strange sex. Weirdly a joyful one.
The random stranger you meet at a dinner party that you didn’t want to go to that is absolutely going through what you are going through RIGHT NOW. You meet and revel in the glory of the relate. You both injure your necks with all the frantic nodding. Thank God that there’s someone out there who understands you besides your therapist. You never see them again.
The ones who in a moment of crisis unexpectedly come to your aid. The unsung heroes of your life who just step in and are marvellous when you need them. Because often it’s not the obvious ones.