Part 3: Can your friends do this?

My morale was low. I really, really wished I hadn’t been such an arse, but I had. I couldn’t take it back, so I needed to atone and I needed to earn Lulu’s regard. I thought, “I’ll make myself indispensable: her most dependable friend and ally. Then she’ll grow to love me, and, what’s more, I’ll be a better person.” I thought I could get there by graft. I aimed to please. What a fucking genius!

We already shared a lot of interests and attitudes, but now I tried very hard to think and act in a way she’d approved of; I tried to really mean it when I apologised; to see it from her point of view; to match her drink for drink. It was an aspirational project! You can imagine how successful it was: apart from anything else, Lulu could really hold her booze.

In one sense, then, I capitulated. I acknowledged this was her stage, her scene; I wasn’t the centre, the main attraction; I was an aggravating nuisance, a distraction, a walk-on part. I was marginal.

It could’ve been an elevating moral lesson, but I wasn’t gracefully admitting defeat and yielding the field. I was hanging grimly on. I think I was probably trying to punish her, subconsciously. I’d probably registered that, coming from a strict Christian background, she would want to act in a virtuous way, and I exploited that. She didn’t want to be unreasonable, uncharitable, unforgiving, so she never just told me to FUCK OFF, which would’ve probably been the best thing for both of us. She was just as stubborn as I was, and I think I was so obviously messed up that she felt concerned for my welfare. We got on very well, some of the time. We genuinely liked each other.

Poor Lulu! I refused to leave the long-suffering girl alone. Being her attendant became my occupation. I was so impressed with, and so absorbed by, her that I assumed she held the same centrality in the lives of other people that she did in mine. I thought she was holding court when she was just hanging out with friends, so I danced attendance in a simplistic fantasy of my own devising: a cruel fairy queen in a royal court of two. I barely recognised the existence of other, shadowy figures.

I imposed this ludicrous chimera on a real, complex young woman, and yet I thought of her as the tyrant! Everywhere she went she was accompanied by a retinue of one: a malignant, capering jester, a reproachful fool, who carried on his back the props and sets of a fiction, a travelling theatre.

It was sordid and claustrophobic. So much so that even I, who was compelled to pursue her, felt a sense of relief, of easing, when we weren’t together. Looking back, my behaviour seems obsessive, although it didn’t seem that way at the time. I thought I was dependable and loyal. I’ve always regarded myself as too weak and flaky and easily distracted to be obsessive. Surely obsessives have great powers of concentration.

I’m surprised Lulu didn’t murder me. It was embarrassing.I was monstrous and monstrously passive-aggressive. I hung around for years trying to ingratiate myself. For YEARS. She must have been so exasperated. I damaged both our lives. And, as the years passed, I grew more and more into the mind-set of the servant. I started to think of myself as The Subordinate, so reliant on the ideas and opinions of others, so sceptical and disdainful of my own, that I became distrustful of the existence of my own self.

But I wasn’t, at that stage, trying to be public-spirited. I grew into that later. I was trying to worm my way into somebody’s affections. It was horribly self-centred and self-serving.

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