Ladies and gentlemen, tonight, we're going to spill some tea on relationships. Now, I'm not going to pretend that I'm some sort of guru with a roster of fulfilling, amicably concluded relationships to draw on. However, I am something of an expert on what not to. As such, I've found that the golden rule (as is the case in platonic friendships and filial relationships) is emotional honesty.
I'm not saying that we need to bear our soul every second of the day.
You shouldn't have to release your every thought to your Person to feel like you're communicating, either. But there's a happy middle ground somewhere between those spectrums.
That said, it's still possible. It's worth trying. You will find it awkward at first to put your needs first and state what you want or expect out of the relationship, and that's natural. It's weird to put yourself first publically, but we must all practice it more as a form of self-care. We can so easily pretend that everything is okay and manageable and brush off our suffering as something that isn't as valid or important as other forms of suffering. We're always the exception to 'self-care', and we have so much to relearn as a consequence.
You have to be willing to fall flat on your face and get your heart broken in a relationship. Otherwise, you will realise that you maybe aren't using your heart all that much. By this, I don't mean that you need to throw yourself off emotional cliffs just for the sake of it. I also don't believe that suffering always has a 'reason' or 'lesson' to learn from: sometimes life sucks and isn't fair. However, you have to respect that your heart is foolish and doesn't always know what it wants, but it does have needs and you will always know if they are being met or not.
Just as the pride comes before the fall, the breakdown comes right before the breakthrough.
I've found this on two occasions in the last month alone.
I like to think of it as the universe's illogical way of restoring justice and recalibrating the karma of some of the people around us. You know, when you were already stressed about money and work but then your friend stumbles upon a way to make easy money. Or gets promoted without even applying. And it makes you want to die just a little. It is super frustrating though, because you always want to be happy for your friend because you genuinely love them. You want to have their interests at heart.
It is however, natural – completely – to spare a few thoughts for yourself. It's okay to resent their success – just a little. You don't want it to consume you, and it can absolutely be toxic. However, it's just as toxic to attempt to police every thought that crosses your mind. As always, it's your actions that define you – we can forgive an intrusive or rogue thought here and there.
Because sometimes you need a breakdown.
A large one or a small one to keep you ticking over – to shake things up. To clear the air and release the building tension that you probably didn't realise you were holding in.
I had a proper spiral at around 3 am a few weeks ago about money. It was something and nothing but a series of little things that had accumulated over the entire summer before I'd realised it had happened. All my friends, by and large, got impressive paid internships or jobs in retail over summer, and in reality, probably were just as stressed as I was about other things, but I didn't clock that.
Despite my relaxing summer of holidays and an unpaid internship that filled my time, I still found time to make myself anxious about the peer pressure of feeling like I was falling behind. Like my friends were more grown-up, independent, or well-off than me.
That they were happier, more secure, and more adult in general than I could hope to be.
I found myself scrounging online ways to make money on the quick like I was some sort of junkie.
In reality, I was a fairly comfortable 20 something who did not need to be panicking in at all the way that I did. It was just the threat that I was behind, or somehow failing – losing. But the thing with life is that it's so up and down and no emotion is permanent.
Therefore, just as we know better than to expect to be happy all the time, it stands to reason that we won't always feel the same as we feel in a given moment.
No matter how inescapable or bewildering or eternal it feels. Trust me on this.
If you listen to nothing else from the article, then listen to that.