social contract

Living in a house with a dog, we take the restaurant’s doggie bag literally. Whenever we eat out, we collect the scraps–and maybe even substantial servings–of food and take it home. This white carryout has significance for Lucy Dog.

If we rush in the house, dropping off the bag of food on the counter and move on to something that seems more important at that moment, the dog will sit in the kitchen and whine.

I say, “What is wrong with you, dog?”

Chris will look up.

“She knows she is owed something. We are breaking the social contract.”

Ah. We must give her what she expects, or put the food we plan to eat ourselves in the fridge. That’s her signal that her chance is done.

Chris has a similar maxim for the catbox.

“We must keep our part of the social contract, and keep his box clean. Otherwise, he could be justified in not using the box, because we started it.”

There are expectations that form contracts between people, even if they are unspoken.

At this moment in my life, I am supremely blessed by how many friends I have. I am so grateful for these friends who will hold space for me.

For the friends who will LISTEN TO ME when my life hands me a circumstance.

I can feel afraid, or bewildered or happy. And I find that I need to talk to someone to get a handle on it.

Maybe a lot of someones.

Maybe a lot of times.

Like I said, I am really blessed because I have so many people who are willing to talk to me.

And when a bank of terror fogs me in, I will call all these friends and give them updates, asking for sympathy and perspective. It is so healing!

I can run in circles, calling everyone I know for support.

But I understand that if I am to keep this support network healthy, I cannot only call when I am feeling overwhelmed.
There is a social contract I do my best to stay on top of:

I have to give the story it’s ending.

If I have reached out, and am granted the alms of sympathy and attention to my stories, I have created a contract.

If I ever want to tap that resource again

I better make sure to close the chapter.

I have to go back and tell the end of the story. It’s only fair. If I have gotten people all involved, I have to respect that tension I have created. It was real to me, and those friends took some of it on for me.

We all need to know what happens to the hero.