That Time I Opened The Little Black Book

Welcome to learning about love the hard way

This article is rated: as real as it gets. Best read with a bottle of wine and a box of tissues. Fiction level — how true the story is/close to actual events (out of 5): ⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐

Mine happens to the ease in which I screw up relationships, romantic or otherwise.

I’ve had an alarming amount of romantic and platonic relationships. When I reflect on my dossier, I’ve endured more failed friendships than anything else. That’s what I’m categorically good at.

My Relationship Resume

I’ve found people have loved to hate me. Or hated that they loved me. Boyfriends have dumped me, and so have friends. I’m too hard to be friends with, quipped some. Easily forgettable, others have mentioned. Some asserted that I was too nice.

The confusion was real.

The men I love have cheated on me. I’ve cheated on men I should have loved. I’ve recklessly played with other people’s emotions. But more frequently, I’ve sacrificed my happiness for short-term gains.

I’m a self-proclaimed expert on the art of annoying people. My reprehensible talent is my ability to seek revenge on those who’ve hurt me.

However, this talent comes with proficient resolution skills. I’m intimate with how to make it up to those who deserve an apology. I’ve learned how to appreciate people in my life. I’ve learned that I deserve respect.

I’ve removed ‘reckless relationship rogue’ from my resume. And proud to say I’m a reformed hurtaholic.

How Did I Get Here?

I grew up in the inner of Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs. My social circle comprised private school graduates from the most expensive schools. And with their expansive wallets came first-world drama. Endless, impossible gossip and tumultuous, unhealthy relationships. It was like running a gauntlet of heartbreak and assumption.

Every one of us tripped at some stage. I was the first.

It’s right to assume money would be the source of controversy and quarrels. But the petty squabbles centred around who was having sex. The gossip circulating was always about who was sleeping with whom. Whispers about those few seen carrying their heels on a Sunday morning. We spoke about those seen performing the parade of dishonour.

Every day there would be a new outrageous story about one of ‘the girls’ and the guy she dated. Everyone knew the details of their affair, from who kissed first to who orgasmed last.

And if you weren’t talking about what others were doing, you weren’t talking at all. The loners on the periphery wanted part of the action, and those trapped in the middle couldn’t see a way out.

It was one of the best times of my life. And, to quote the cliché, it was also the worst.

Surviving Taught Me Everything

One of the most pertinent parts of ‘learning the hard way’ has been my ability to reflect.

I started a Little Black Book, a notebook I kept under my bed. I began documenting all the winning and failures as they were happening. At first, it was dates and people’s names that I scribbled. Soon I noted every sordid adventure in the journal. There I would analyse what I could have done better, assessing where I went wrong.

It was in my only safe space where I could grow. And boy did I.

I would be lying if I said my little black book wasn’t full of regret. It’s overflowing with shameful drunken antics and lustful secrets. I can’t pretend I was an innocent spectator, the virgin in the corner. No, I played my part in the depravity as much as the next.

There are a few incidents where I can’t quite remember every detail. We will blame Absolut and cheap champagne for that. Unfortunately for me, there was always someone to fill in the details.

Friends, lovers and enemies told me I should publicise the stories. I should, according to them, chronicle the stories to entertain the masses. For years I’ve danced around the idea that these stories are amusement.

Sure, it’s entertainment.

But I’m opening my black book as a warning of how not to screw up when you’re looking for love. A cautionary tale and analysis of how we fall in and out of love. Told from the perspective of the people I know who did it so right. And did it so very wrong.

I Wasn’t Alone

As I’ve penned the shenanigans, I’ve started reflecting on my former friendships. Most of the people in these stories aren’t in my life anymore. I’m sure they believe we disassociated because we ‘grew apart’. My recollection isn’t so convenient for my conscience. Nor is my account entirely delusional.

I call them my former friends, but they weren’t, really. Friends don’t lead you to ultimate suffering and enjoy watching as the disaster unfolds. Friends don’t stand by as you get manipulated, both physically and emotionally. I didn’t discover dependable, honest, fight-to-the-end friendship until these friendships were over.

Let me introduce you to the key players who occupied my life, and watched my torment. These are the ones that keep featuring in my Little Black Book.

Weston “Trust Fund Heir”

The then eighteen-year-old boy who went to one of the neighbouring private schools. He seduced me into an inequitable friendship. He took me to coffee, listened to my boy woes and used the information to dupe me. Weston positioned himself as my confidant, and there wasn’t a sexual anecdote I didn’t disclose. To date, his friendship has been my biggest regret.

Julie “Plain Jane”

Of the female critiques in my life, Julie was the classic girl next door. She was friends with everyone, with no exaggeration. Julie never made an enemy of anyone. This behaviour frustrated those needing her unwavering allegiance. She and I would always be the drunkest at every party. She was my soul sister.

Olivia “Judge Judgement”

When Olivia declared I was a sheep when we were in year eight, I thought we would never be friends again. By year twelve, she let me back into her confidence, only to freeze me out again in later years. Every time it happened, I wondered what boy broke her heart that meant she needed to take it out on me. The loudest mouth and the smartest mind. You had to be careful what you said to Olivia.

Anne “Smiling Assassin”

Every secret, every deep-seated insecurity, ever indiscretion, I told Anne. She listened, but rarely exchanged stories. For a while, I found it fascinating to watch her ridicule this misfortune of others. Another regret of mine to add to the list. With her sharp tongue and sardonic mind, there wasn’t a detail she didn’t miss.

The Girls “The More, The Miserable”

Within private girls’ schools, there are vile, impenetrable cliques. They’re bound by privilege and association. I was a part of the misfits. We weren’t arrogant enough to be the popular kids, nor smart enough to be the intellectuals. We were bitchy and malicious, some promiscuous, some virgins until marriage. Then ten of us were out of our minds a lot and getting having sex just as often.

Where To Begin

I felt this introduction necessary.

I’m still apologising for the sins of my former life. And I wanted to make sure the people of my current life, my happy married life, knew this wasn’t about them.

I’m content with the people I have in my life. I’ve refined who I associate with, how I connect with people, and how I let go of the hurt.

Though I still endure relationship chaos, I find my experiences less wild and confusing. It’s a far more fulfilled life. And this fulfilment has allowed me to share the Little Black Book with confidence and minimal regret.

I describe my writing as fiction, as conventionality would believe it to be. But this categorisation doesn’t do these life lessons justice.

I’m approaching these tales with a fictitious quality, as not to embroil myself in arguments with the people of my former life.

Some narratives are exaggerated because entertainment is paramount. But despite any embellishment, every lesson learned is true.

It’s with hesitation and immense pleasure I open the Little Black book. I hope you learn from my mistakes. And if you don’t, may you experience great pleasure from the stories of my failures.

Either way, please enjoy.

I’m Ellen McRae, writer by trade and passionate storyteller by nature. My want is for a better opportunity for writers, especially fictional, in an increasingly technology dominant world. I write about figuring about love and relationships through fictional-reality.

The anecdotes might not always be true, but the lessons learned sure are!

Relationships. Drama. Gossip. Innuendo. Bad Dates. Failures. Learning about life/business/love the hard way//

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