The Relationship You Agreed To
What it means to be an adult and how it affects those around you
Sometimes I find this place gets used as a diary more than an actual place for my short stories. A place to share a bit of myself, because maybe it will help teach people out there to be better. To do better. Because things are going to be hard when you’re in relationships.
I’m not even talking about romantic relationships. I’m talking the daily interactions with the people you care about. Family, friends, neighbors. Whoever you spend your time with. And it’s going to be hard to talk with some of them sometimes.
So let me share a story about myself, since it’s weighing on my mind. Because I’ve found myself without any of the adults who raised me. So maybe reading this, if you’re going through the same, you’ll find out you aren’t alone. Or if you are an adult with someone younger who is important in your life, you can realize just how much support means.
So let’s start at my mentor, since that’s the easiest and maybe hurts the least. I met her a long time ago and she taught me a lot about writing. I looked up to her as a friend and a fellow writer who I could interact with. Chitchat with. Be around. We’d have long conversations and I never made it a secret about the fact I was LGBTQ+. I thought we were fine. But eventually she directed me to a website and I quickly found out she was supporting people who were actually trying to hurt me because of my identity.
I haven’t talked to her since. The text are left on read. I can’t bring myself to delete them and I can’t bring myself to reply to them.
I sit here and try and pretend she no longer exists. And that she hadn’t talked behind my back. And that she actually supported me instead of pretending.
I refuse to be the “gay friend” she weaponizes.
Today I think about my other friend and mentor. Or my neighbor who raised me. Both of them were figures in my life who supported me and offered me advice. When I had a problem, I knew who to count on, who to call. I have known one for over six years and I used to see her twice a week, go to her art classes, listen to her life, and enjoy that time with her. The neighbor who raised me … I can’t remember a time I didn’t know her. I grew up with her eldest son and only vaguely remember the birth of her second oldest. I was two when I first met her. She might as well have been a second mother to me. Her house might as well have been my house.
I only know her youngest son now.
As for my mentor and neighbor, I look back on both and realize I didn’t actually know them. 2020-2021 has shown me who they actually are. And I watch myself be called a liar by them and isolated. They’re almost as deep in conspiracy as my parents. I cannot trust the guidance they give because it is drastically opposed to the advice which I need. How do you go to either of them about how to escape from parents who do not support you when they support your parents and the reason you need to leave?
And finally we come to my parents. I feel like I have come into my ‘rebellious teenager’ years far too late. And the feeling of being the only one, knowing I am the only one in “authority” around me who thinks as I think is the most isolating and invalidating of all. COVID is real, the earth is round, and God has not condemned the gays is all things in constant question by the adults in my life. I am, for all intents and purposes, alone. Or so I feel so many times in my life as of this year. I have to constantly assure myself of reality and surround myself with my same-age friends who exist to me solely on the internet. I bury myself in school to check the science and the truth as much as possible. I try.
I’ve found a strange sort of alternative in my old bosses. They are by no means adults which I can go to for the support I need. But they are close. And, failing that, they answer my texts and I at least know that they support me. It’s strange looking at it that way. They don’t and never have gotten along with each other, yet these are the two people in my life left who I call “adults who I know and trust” - it’s so strange.
One is a gay Doctor Who fanboy who constantly texts me memes because he knows I like Doctor Who as well. I knew him the longest, if only because he was there my first day of work. I remember walking into Orientation, shaking in my boots, and he was decked out head-to-toe in Doctor Who merch and I couldn’t help but think “Okay … well we at least have that in common.” And ever since I met him, he’s only ever been kind to me.
Add to that, but he’s really good at answering his text messages and never has hesitated to give me a reference.
The other “hates” him with a passion, which has always amused me. Particularly because she’s used me as a go-between before because she knows I like him. It’s always amused me. She ran a splintered-off branch from the business he ran. I only went to her branch because I was briefly out of work from his business. She offered me a higher position. I took it and never went back to my old job. She ran a business of strays. For one reason or another, we’d ended up there because the main one had left us in some fashion. I out of work due to just not having customers and some of the others because they had not been able to work at the main site for one reason or another.
It was a small family. A very surprising small family, with a boss who worried and fussed over everyone involved. I’d never felt more welcomed, supported, and recognized. I doubt it was even intended to be like a family, but the respect and notice I received, even if I wasn’t perfect made me feel loved.
She called me recently to congratulate me on my new job. She still checks up on me. I wish I could go back daily. The people I met there were probably the best I’ve met.
So yeah. I wanted this to be a sort of lesson as well as just a way to share my feelings.
If someone is important in your life, but has opinions and exists outside of what you consider “right” - please evaluate how that will make them feel. Opinion is liking cheese cake more than carrot cake. Many times, ideals are not opinions. Are the ideals you hold healthy for the important people in your life? Do they take into account the differing ideals of those important people? And at what point do your ideals become so polarized that it is unhealthy to continue the pretense that you share anything in common anymore.
Or if you too are in a situation like me, consider who the people you care about are. Just because someone would take you to the hospital in an emergency, just because they share your blood, just because you shared your life with a person … it does not mean they are healthy for you.
I know my parents, my neighbor, and my mentors would all take me to a hospital if I was in need. I know that they care. But that does not mean they are healthy for me anymore. Care and good for you are not the same thing.
Because if I was honest? If they were truly still healthy for me, or important to my life, I would be able to talk to them. I would be able to share my deepest hurts with them and that would do something. But that is no longer the case.
Let yourself be talkable to. Ask yourself how much you respect the important people in your life and if you would listen and consider if they brought you those deepest hurts - even if they involved you.
You agreed to this relationship. You recognized that it would not be perfect.
I’ve lost a lot of the adults in my life. Now it’s just the long process of finding more of them again. Whatever that will look like.
About the author
Small writer and artist who spends a lot of their time stuck in books, the past, and probably a library.
Currently I'm working on my debut novel What's Normal Here, a historical/fantasy romance.