Today’s Daily Post Prompt is “Symbiosis,” about which it turns out I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately. Well, that’s backwards, really. I’ve been thinking about relationships that are supposed to be symbiotic – both organisms surviving together, with mutual, reciprocal benefit – but are not. I guess we’re talking more about codependency, or probably any number of other relationship types of which I’m not yet aware.
First, let’s consider my cats. They’re the most innocent of all of the relationships I’ve been considering. They can survive without me. If I opened up the door right now and shooed them all outside, sure, they’d have a rough week or two, but barring getting hit by a car, they’d be OK. Isabel would find a spot in the sun and sit there, looking frail and vulnerable, until some old lady came along and took her in. Munky would probably run into the first open door and demand kibble and a back rub. Charlie would go feral in no time, and his size and natural ownership of all situations would make him king of the block. There might be some tussles with Kuzia, but they’d work out a way to hold the title jointly without either getting too ticked off.
All that being said, they stay here with me. I feed them very expensive food, take them to the doctor whenever anyone exhibits signs of pain or illness, am constantly refilling food/water and cleaning out litter boxes, and everything I own is covered in cat hair/litter/cat footprints. One of the top reasons I’m stuck in this tiny apartment is because having cats makes me wary of trying to find a roommate, and landlords either don’t want pets or just don’t want three of them, so when I do find a place that would work with three cats, it’s WAY out of my price range. But I love them, and when I’m lonely, there’s always a furball to curl up next to, and when I cry, Charlie loves to lick tears, and when I take showers, Isabel loves to get petted through the plastic shower curtain liner, and when I brush my teeth, Munky loves to have me pet him with the non-toothbrush-holding-hand. So we count on each other, and here we are.
I know too many people who are in negative relationships. Relationships where one of the participants has taken on the role of caregiver, and gives the other participant way too much leeway to not be present, active, giving. I also know more people than ever before who are in desperate need of therapy, or at least some sort of help, whether it’s coming to terms with an addiction, or dealing with childhood trauma, or mental imbalance based in health concerns like PCOS. And I know too many women who can’t come to terms with the fact that you can’t keep from being alone by forcing someone else to depend on you. You’ll still be alone, just alone with someone else in the house. And believe me, that’s much worse, loneliness without being allowed to find a way out of it. And YOU doing it to YOURSELF! What a pity. What a waste. I wish I had the guts to tell every one of my girlfriends that I see in this situation to get out. It’s better to be on your own than alone and stuck under the influence of a man who somehow believes that giving 1/4 of the effort amounts to participation. Relationships are very hard work, and we shouldn’t have to put in 3/4 of the effort for no reward, especially in this day and age, when there’s just no more reason to suffer. It used to be that you needed to be under the protection of a man, and that there was financial security in it, but not anymore. Come to think of it, I don’t have any girlfriends who aren’t the more successful partner, financially speaking.
On that note, I was thinking about romance earlier, and why it is that we have this trope of the handsome, romantic, experienced foreign man (you can set this story in Spain, Italy, Greece, anywhere in South or Central America – just make sure that the men there are dark and handsome, and are rumored to be skilled at seduction). Wouldn’t it be satisfying to have a story where the down-on-her-luck American woman visits a foreign island, in search of romance (a la Eat, Pray, Love), and finds herself unfortunately paired up with a bumbling, analytical, completely inexperienced foreign guy? Like, the only available man on the island is available for a reason, and the resulting pairing is hilarious. I’d enjoy that story.
Well, it’s Sunday afternoon out there, and in a few hours I’m going to go buy some eggs at Dollar General, then hit up my weekly Refuge Recovery meeting. I went to Zumba this morning, so I’m feeling good about being back on track at the gym. Just hoping it’s possible to avoid catching a cold or flu or whatever other bugs are there every time I go for more than a few days in a row. Today I washed my hands before and after Zumba, didn’t touch anything in the classroom, and the equipment that I did use after class, I sprayed it off before and after. I’m trying to be very conscious of when I touch anything, and not touching my face, but we’ll see.