I’d like you to meet someone I know well.
Her name is Deidre and she’s been in my life for quite some time now.
I can’t recall when we first met. It actually took a little time to be aware of her, because in the beginning she just kind of blended in. You know, the quiet type, the one with not much to say, the one who never makes waves or causes a scene. She was simply there, a quiet addition on nights out with friends.
It soon became obvious though, that Deidre and I were destined to become great companions. With her quiet, unobtrusive confidence, she managed in turn to instil that confidence in me, particularly on occasions when I felt self conscious or insecure. She brought me out of my shell, laughed at my jokes and made me realise how witty and interesting I was. We went out to pubs together, attended friends birthday parties and weddings and other special occasions. She became a regular at family gatherings and we even travelled together, interstate and overseas. We had fun. We were best mates.
But slowly, cracks in the friendship began to appear. I began to resent that she visited so frequently. It felt like she was taking up a disproportionate amount of my time and I started to tire of her seemingly always being around. And I began to notice that she’d changed too. Suddenly she wasn’t so much fun. She was often surly or dissatisfied and it was only when I agreed to do whatever she wanted to do that her mood would improve and she’d revert to being funny and wise once again.
More concerning, I began to realise that being around her was causing me to agree to making some dodgy choices while together. Oh, she always had a good reason why this would be fun or that would be harmless, but once she’d finally gone for a day or three, I’d be left feeling wracked with guilt. Soon, I was promising myself that I just wouldn’t see her again. The friendship had become toxic and I’d had enough.
She would not leave me alone.
At first I simply tried to ignore her. But she was persistent and would insist again and again that this time we got together, this time would be different. She’d almost beg me to give her another chance, to allow her to prove to me that we could go back to having fun together. I’d give in and sometimes, yes, we’d have fun. We’d meet up and it would be lighthearted and breezy and I’d feel glad that I’d given her another chance. But all too often, inevitably, we would fall back into the poor choices and with me being left the next day, wondering what the hell had just happened.
So I confronted her. I told her she was no longer a friend, that the trust had been too far broken to be redeemed. We had to go our separate ways.
Surprisingly, she agreed. She agreed that the friendship had run it’s course and that it was time to move on. And so, periods of time would pass when I wouldn’t hear from her. I’d start to relax and even forget to think about her for days on end.
But sooner or later, she’d call. And this time the persuasions were different.
I couldn’t live without her, she’d tell me.
I needed her, she’d say.
You know your life is better with me in it, she’d whisper softly.
No-one else understands you the way I do, she’d coo.
And like a parched man spotting a lush oasis in the desert, I’d allow her again to return, joyfully, willingly.
And again, the shame and guilt and skin crawling anxiety the following day, would return.
So. I’ve tried the ignoring. I’ve tried the confronting.
I’ve tried reasoning, appealing to her better nature, and blunt, brute anger.
She still won’t leave.
And I’ve realised finally why she won’t leave. She won’t leave, because she’s an illusionary part of me.
She’s the addictive voice part of my brain. She’s the one who makes the justifications for drinking, who cajoles and whines and sulks and yells and makes such a lot of loud, loud noise until I give in and give her what she wants.
But she’s not me. She is not my Soul, she is not who I am at my innermost core. She is just one small part of my brain, an illusion that has run the show for far too long, much like a toddler who wants that lolly and wants it now and will hold his breathe or kick and scream until his poor, exhausted parents give in.
So Deidre, I’m calling you out. I’m naming you and I see you there- a small, sad part of my mind. Perhaps you’ll always be there, nattering away at me, or perhaps you’ll slowly fade away until one day I notice that I haven’t seen you for a very, very long time.
Either way, it doesn’t matter. My only job as far as you are concerned, is to simply see you there, without judgement, to see you whether you’re whispering or shouting and to turn gently away from you with a soft, sure NO.