I had had a lovely weekend. Hanging out with friends in the beautiful English countryside. Eating good food, sharing jokes and wisdom both bad and good. And now the weekend was drawing to a close I had a room in a house I wanted to live in to view on my return to town. Yet I became aware of a sense of disquiet as I pulled into the supermarket car-park to buy food for later that dogged me around the cooked chicken counter and followed me to the basket till and back out to my car again. Settling on my shoulder with a familiar discontented sigh like a dog with one of those lampshade things on that stop it scratching.

It struck me that I might be concerned about moving again, incurring more monthly costs, living at close quarters with people I didn’t know or that it might be just the impact of more change on my already sensitised nervous system.

All of these were possible causes, none of them seemed to hit the spot though and I rooted around in my psyche as I sat in the car, trying to find the source of my discomfort, letting things come to the surface and drift away until I landed upon a twitter exchange which had barely touched my consciousness at the time I saw it but was apparently triggering anxiety way beyond that which the content deserved.

What, I thought, was this about? What had triggered my anxiety in this way, what did I have to consider to sort my head out and let me get on with the day?

The answer surprised me with its simple existential quality. As a woman nearing my 60s I was scared of being replaced by a younger woman. It shocked me mostly because I wasn’t aware of it but that it was activating not only my anxiety but also my responses to other people’s relationship choices which were apparent in the twitter posts and replies. I was shocked by this because I didn’t want this reaction. I didn’t want the fear to start with but I am mature enough to know that being replaced is a possibility in any relationship and one we have to live with in order to trust enough to take the risk of allowing ourselves to love and be loved.

I don’t have an answer to this except to observe it and recognise its presence in my life. Intimate relationships necessarily involve the risk of hurt, let another close at our peril it seems. I know and have experienced being hurt and the author of hurt in another’s life, it has changed me, I am not the same, I guess that’s growth for you.

We risk, we fail, we try again, and perhaps have learned enough at least not to hurt others so much again. I hope so, but we won’t know unless we try will we?

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