“Who can you trust?”

I’m always single on Valentines Day. Some years I’ve minded a lot. Like at undergrad, when I wrote “V To Valentines: the ultimate anti-Valentine playlist!”, for the student web zine, in which I suggested that that Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division is actually quite a good tune for a wedding (“That way, things can’t get any worse…”). And the year after, recently-dumped by my first actual boyfriend and mid-Dissertation. And last year: Dumped again. To be more precise, the boyfriend went incommunicado a couple of weeks prior, then sent me a cryptic Valentine’s card. I responded with some version of “Am a tad confused, what’s going on?!” and never heard from him again. That is, until yesterday, when he sent me a literally identical anonymous Valentine card to last year’s. As if it was going to entice me into his arms as opposed to make me think: “What the actual flying fuck are you doing.Tip: If you really care about someone – especially if you are in your early 40s, for actual flying fuck’s sake – you don’t communicate with them in riddles. (Incidentally, why does the media encourage emotional blackmail as though it’s cute…?)

This year, I’m content with flying solo. Or limping solo as the case may be. Quite apart from being busy trying to stabilise my finances, improve my living situation and write a book, I have some feelings to work through before I’m ready to see anyone again. One, an enduring fondness for someone who was well over me ages ago (and, to be crude, should never have been under me…). Plus ca change; I had lingering crushes in spades when I was younger, even more futile than this – the worst lasted nearly a decade all in all. But most importantly, I have big problems around trust. In the past few years, I have learned that one of the friends I trusted most in the world – who trusted me more than most in the world – was not entirely who I thought he was….and that I’m not entirely who I thought I was either. The combination of his death, the disappearing boyfriend, and before that, other inappropriate male behaviour, turned me from someone with a manageable Eeyore streak into a cynical spiralling mess. My feelings towards everyone in that sentence are still as many and tangled as heaven is wide – if I could simply just hate them all it might make things easier, but I can’t do that. I’ve had various forms of counselling and support, mainly about bereavement, career and anxiety; less about the disappearing boyfriend, or the inappropriate advances (being broke and hardly going out has certainly been one way of stopping the latter but it isn’t a very viable life plan going forward…).

I still don’t know quite what will happen from here except “something better” and I’m perennially hopeful. There are some signs that things are, slowly, improving. Not in relationships, but elsewhere, which is most important. Meanwhile, if anyone can in any way relate to having problems with trust after a run of events like mine, I’d love to hear your thoughts…

Right, I’m off to enjoy my self-bought chocolate. And June Tabor and the Oysterband’s cover of Love Will Tear Us Apart. Go listen, it’s beautiful. I stand by that song being one of the best ever written…


6 thoughts on ““Who can you trust?”

  1. Sorry, nothing constructive to say on relationships – they haven’t been my strong point!,
    I do love ‘Love will tear us apart’, particularly the June Tabor / Oyster Band versions. Have you heard the version by Yat Kaa (throat singing from Tuva) – it is ‘different’!

  2. I have really big problems with trust, which started because of a sequence of events in close successions and then more recent work related things. I don’t really know what the solution is. The only thing that has helped me sounds really soppy – I just try really hard to believe that each new person is actually telling the truth. It doesn’t come easy, and I have to visualise it as a ‘what if’ situation, but it is better than going in and displaying your lack of trust to people, even if you still feel wary underneath. ‘Fake it till you make it’ really does work sometimes.

  3. I was thinking whether to comment, as I’ve got nothing profound to say. But then I figured that that is because it is very much a ‘well you know, swigs and roundabouts’-issue. The way one feels about things isn’t always the way one should feel about them (I use ‘one’ as it’s not only you – it’s you, me, everyone). Does one care too much or too little?
    Thought I’d not place your ex and your aquatic friend in the same bracket, I was saying to Ang yesterday: “if he’d come back to live for just 15 minutes, I’d probably slap him and say: ‘You bastard!'”
    The simple truth is (according to me, at least) that you never can know someone fully, including yourself. And if you’d know someone fully, would it make life any easier? In a lot of situations, to a small or larger extent, one just makes do. You get along, make compromises. Perfection just doesn’t exist. While you’re worrying about the big things, don’t lose sight of the small things that can provide happiness.
    Without wanting to trivialise anything, perhaps it’s worth looking at things from the other side, look at the positives. Be your own devil’s advocate (or if you’re the devil, be an angel’s advocate). Also remember that you’re not alone.
    If you should need a break, you’re welcome at ours anytime. Without sounding weird, both Ang and I felt that we could easily adjust to your company – and that’s while I am really a very private person…

    • Thanks, Rem, that was very profound and very true! You’re so right about the 15 minutes. Well, maybe I wouldn’t say that to him exactly, but certainly “Why?” The thing that always sticks is when he said to me once “I’m not worried about you, you’ll be OK. If you were going to go off the rails you’d have done it when you were younger. The only time I’d worry is if you had something big, like a bereavement. Then I’d be watching you very carefully.” The other thing that strikes me very much about Lobster was how he created an impression of intimacy and openness but there was a lot of specifics he kept fiercely private which only came to the fore after his death. I think that kind of character rationing is something we all do to a degree – as you say, we can never truly know others – but to a far greater extent to some. Certainly to him, and a lot to me too.
      Thank you so much for your kind words. Not weird at all; I’m incredibly touched. I have to say, I’d never had anyone other than family to stay for that long, I don’t think, and I was so glad you weren’t bored. Equally, without wanting to sound weird there aren’t that many people who I feel I can spend very large amounts of uninterrupted time with (again, I think that’s true for a lot of people if they’re absolutely honest…) so people like you and Ang that I can are very special to me indeed.

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