depend (verb) 1. Be controlled or determined by. 2. Rely on.
Also the brand name of incontinence pads, but I digress.
Today I text Ben asking him whether he can help me with the groceries because my back is still seized up (the right side of my neck feels like it’s been injected with sand). I don’t have a car, since Ben crashed it a few years ago, so I bring the groceries back by bus (it’s almost a door to door service, so not really that bad – and certainly better for the environment, not to mention my finances).
Anyway, I ask Ben whether he can help me. This is the first time I’ve asked. I go to Waitrose (ahem) and carry on doing the shopping, assuming he will text me back at some point. But I don’t hear from him. I ring, but there’s no answer. I email him from my phone, still nothing.
When I do finally hear from him, it’s noon and I’m back home. I don’t answer his text (I hope you managed). I don’t answer his phone calls – not the first two or three. Eventually I pick up and pretend everything is fine. I tell him I rang several times with no luck. He says he didn’t hear the phone ring. In his defence, it’s true that his phone has been giving him trouble. However, it is also true that he is apt to use this as an excuse when he can’t be bothered to pick up.
He’s an insomniac and doesn’t usually wake up until 11, so he probably didn’t see my text until it was too late. He also probably ignored my phone calls, because he was too tired to come out to help me. I mean, how do you say no to someone when they ask you for help? There’s no polite way to do it, is there? In fact, the only thing you can do is ignore the request. It’s a classic strategy – one I’ve used myself, to my shame.
These are the small disappointments that I can’t help but tot up as the months roll by – the incremental minor misses which added together amount to major failures. It’s the little things that remind me that Ben cannot be depended on, even now, for anything, really.
When I first met him, he sat me down and lectured me about expectations. He said that we shouldn’t have expectations of one another because that would lead to disappointments. I thought this was ridiculous and said so. I said that relationships were built on expectations. Then I brushed the whole discussion aside, dismissing it as an example of his tendency to lapse into inarticulacy.
But now - now – I know better. That was his attempt, way back when, to absolve himself of all responsibility. Expectations are linked to responsibility, commitment and an acceptance that someone will depend on you at some point for bread, butter or jam.
And so I have concluded the following:
- As long as I have no expectations of Ben, our relationship will be ok.
- I don’t want a relationship with someone who can’t commit to a certain level of expectation (ie. who can’t take the pressure of having someone depend on them for bread, butter or jam).
- We are separated, so really, I shouldn’t be ringing him for help with the groceries – or anything else.
- We are still co-dependent, and no, the irony of this statement is not lost on me.
- Did I mention we’re separated?
Something hopeful to end on.