I was in my local corner shop. And I started realising how I wasn’t really engaging with the cashier. The smile and thank you were half hearted, I wasn’t making eye contact, and my immediate thought was to rush back to where I needed to go.
This is someone that I see almost everyday. We have a relationship. They stock the goods. I exchange for cash. When I was recovering from a bender; they provided the salty and sweet food that made me feel a little bit better.
Relationships for me, are everywhere. And like the cashier, I have come to ask myself; am I, and have I, got the most from my relationships? Or do I just offer half-hearted thank you, pleases and conversation?
There was a time when I would try to talk as much to people as possible on dating apps, with the belief that I couldn’t waste each window of opportunity with each person.
Sadly most people fail to make any upfront investment in these relationships, resulting in a very low conversion rate to physical meetings.
I’ve also reflected on the amount time I spent on Grindr, trading my loneliness for sex. Which seemed a much easier exchange with a higher conversion rate.
Relationships happen everywhere
When the topic of relationships came up in a meeting the other day my thoughts immediately turned to romantic relationships. It turned to the feeling of being alone vs feeling lonely.
I’m used to being alone, but not lonely. They are profound differences in emotions. My romantic life has felt so lonely for so long. There has been no completing my whole.
And for all that is said, there is nothing like a real relationship above the snapshots of time we get with friends, family, acquaintances, sponsors, colleagues, associates, people who serve us.
The truth is my life is full of relationships that need maintaining, time and commitment. They happen every day, every moment. But I hold back my most precious investment; time, in hoping that the whole will come soon.
Not Being Alone
I once sat at a dinner room table crying to an ex housemate about feeling alone. I said something like “I am not alone, they’re always there in my head, with me”.
I only really communicate to people when we’re face to face when we’ve made the time to do something, the effort to get there and shared something together.
I thought about my relationship with my sponsor. I know nothing about them apart from a few snapshots. Creepily, I googled them and found out much more than our relationship as sponsor and sponsee required.
Are we getting the most from our relationship? As we rush through my step work – do we *really* care beyond what the immediate tasks the steps set out?
The Last Dance
My sponsor it turns out used to be a model. His handsome looks have always been slightly intimidating. And there was a time when I was in a open-relationship, both the person I was seeing and my sponsor where both seeing someone in the same area, of a description of eachother. My paranoid mind wondered where my sponsor and my partner seeing each other?
We had a very intimate relationship which revolved around partner being naked, flung over the sofa, describing his sex life, sharing his thoughts and watching BFI player.
Beyond the label was a deep intimacy which went both ways, albeit with different levels of intimacy (nudity) and intentions. I never understood why someone with such passion, enthusiasm and time for whatever that relationship was, would refuse to acknowledge a relationship existed. This only served my paranoia.
This NYE all my plans fell through, due to people coming down with COVID. Having purchased sparkly shoes, sparkly shirt and ready to go out, I decided to hang out with my ex-partner. I was going to dance. They were a DJ at one of the local pubs. So I’d be dancing alone.
As the fireworks went off and the NY countdown completed, everyone in the pub seemed to be partnered, exchanging kisses and jubilantly expressing to each other “HNY!”.
I was the wallflower staring-on at the cheers before me. I had not felt that kind of lonely for so long. Despite all the relationships in my life, how could I come to be alone again? What had I done wrong?
I managed to dance it off.
And here is another relationship. People say you can’t be friends with an ex. Let me tell you, you can. This relationship has run on honesty, even when I have cheated, and an emotional honesty that runs to; this is exactly how I feel about you and this is the label I apply to this relationship.
The label they use to describe this relationship: brothers.
My life is full of relationships, all require my attention, all require me to be mindful. But none of them make me whole.
The only thing I can do is become the constant gardener of my relationships; nurturing and keep them growing, in the hope that one day they bloom into something beautiful. Doesn’t help when I’m wallflower zoned, sometimes.