When I read the word toxic, I think love before I think poison. Toxic relationships are a concept I didn’t learn about until I was in my twenties and I only ever applied this concept to my own experience since very recently. I’m not someone who seeks deeper meaning in my memories and interactions with people and memories of interactions with people. I only put those pieces together in my fiction and it’s usually a matter of writing a story, editing it and years later I’m like – Hold on! What happened? Did I really have this conversation? No, shit! But by then it’s usually too late and I move on.
One short story of mine in particular deals with a toxic relationship I didn’t even know I had. It is called “Love Is Cruel to the Sensitive Kind” and it takes place in the space of an evening. I wrote it in 2012 and lived it in 2009. I was young then, inexperienced and perhaps a little thick in matters of love. I put up with things, I wouldn’t put up with now. Continuous slights and tiny assaults against my self-esteem, I didn’t even notice as such until I saw them on the page. To be perfectly honest, not even then. It took me six years, publication by “The Dying Goose” and befriending and unfriending and refriending this person on Facebook to see our relationship for what it was – toxic.
Now I want to share with you an actual account that is also part of my story “Love Is Cruel to the Sensitive Kind”…
‘You brought crisps?’
You take the bag from me and start eating. I watch you as you cover your shirt in crumbs. I’m hungry too, but you don’t offer.
‘I haven’t eaten all day,’ you say through a mouthful of chips.
‘I could have come by earlier.’
‘I slept late. I felt sick all morning.’
‘Did you catch a cold?’
‘Yeah, and then I got smashed yesterday night.’
‘But now you feel all better?’
‘Mustn’t grumble,’ you spray me with wet crumbs as you say it.
I wait for you to look away and wipe at my face.
‘You kept calling me,’ you say.
‘I didn’t know you weren’t feeling well.’
‘So you kept calling?’
‘A couple more times. You picked up but I didn’t hear anything. I think your phone is broken.’
‘No,’ you stuff another handful of chips into your mouth.
‘But I didn’t hear you on the other end.’
‘You kept calling. So I picked up, threw the phone in the corner and went back to sleep.’
‘I thought it was broken.’
‘It probably is now.’
You texted me right after I had hung up. You called me mate. I didn’t call again.
Thank you for letting me share this with you, btw. If you want to read the full story, you can CLICK HERE! (This is not a buy link, fyi.)
Have you ever been in a toxic relationship? What made you realise it was toxic? I’d love to hear your thoughts…