The Thing, and The Fight to Fall …

I have never been good at relationships.

Particularly, I have never been good at romantic relationships. Something about them seems to me unnatural. Actually, a lot seems unnatural. There is the rushed togetherness. There is the relentlessly pursued sense of oneness. There is the expected sharing of the self, the packing into little conversations of your entire life, all that has made you, built you, broken you, shattered you, put you back together again, all of it in little conversations, so that the other person could ‘get to know you’, hopefully as soon as possible, so that that is out of the way, and making way for the focusing on the relentless pursuit of oneness.

And then there is the sharing of space – which I presume is supposed to aid the sense of togetherness. The excessive proximity, the on top of each other proximity and inside each other closeness.

There is also then the purposeful, promise-filled, connection-forging exchanging of nudity and the fluids which often go with that form of exchange.

There is simply much less one and much more two; less me and more us; less being and more compromise.

It is all very unnatural.

It has all seemed very unnatural.

And soon all that unnatural becomes very stifling and then my fight and flight kicks in – and that is when I fight so that I may fly.

Of course when I discuss this with people, they all tend to come to the same, uninspired, and way too simplistic conclusion: you are afraid of commitment.

Except of course I am not afraid of commitment. I am not commitment averse. I am currently committing and committed to this piece. Earlier, I committed to a 6 km walk. And while masking, some hours ago, I committed to gooey avo on my face for the recommended 20 minutes. And more than that, I am patient. I can wait. I can stand in a queue without being too bothered. I can wait for a delayed flight after a long layover. I can read a long book and not turn to the end to see its resolution. So I can commit. I am not afraid of commitment. What I am afraid of though is the burden of responsibility. That is where most of my anxiety comes from: having to be responsible for someone else. Having to carry the burden of ensuring or facilitating or contributing to their happiness; having to ensure that they feel valued; having to make sure that I am duly participating in the expected sharings, pursuits and exchanges. I am afraid of the burden of togetherness. I am weighed down by the responsibility of having to participate in the pursuit of oneness. It is too much responsibility and I have never known how to carry it without: a terrible rash; excruciating headaches; overwhelming anxiety, and ultimately resenting the other person.

None of this has bothered me all too much. I have simply, over time, equipped myself with the right tools: the exit strategy, which is the out that I need to know that I have before going in, so that I can use it seamlessly to get out; the cultivated fight, one which doesn’t hurt the other person’s feelings too much but lets them come to the realisation that there is no point in the continued pursuit of togetherness; and then the chardonnay or gin for when I feel guilty for feeling relieved when it’s all over, when I have escaped.


It has never bothered me. before. I have been alright, and with time and age and experience, I was getting better and better at it all; I even once, not too long ago, got someone to leave on their own, without me having to employ the exit strategy, without the taxing fight. It has not bothered me; it had never bothered me, before; until now.

Until I came to be in this Thing, with this Person. This Thing that doesn’t give me rashes or leave me burdened; this Thing that fast obliterated all creeping anxiety and replaced it with a comfortable sense of belonging- old, worn, warm, like it has always been and naturally always will be; this Thing which makes me want to share, make happy, be responsible for; this Thing which makes me want to pursue togetherness and oneness; this Thing which makes me want to pack my life into little conversations, so that I may be known, understood, even loved; this Thing where I want to talk to this Person endlessly and I miss this Person stupidly, constantly; this Thing where I am hoping that this Person doesn’t have an exit strategy, a ready-to-go fight and beer or whiskey for when it is all over, when they have escaped.


I have never been good at relationships, particularly romantic ones, but I am hoping that the universe doesn’t hold that against me, that it pardons me, goes easy on me, so that I can stay in this Thing with this Person, who makes me want to fight to fall.

Writer: Nomfundo Shezi     Photographer: We Heart It