The History of the Unicorn

…then he told me he loved me.

There’s an altered state that exists somewhere between wishing for something and the universe providing it. It’s this surreal, foggy, vaguely delusional feeling where no amount of pinching your own arm will convince you it’s real.

Monogamy was never modelled well for me. In fact, I’m not convinced I ever really knew what monogamy actually was. Conceptually I got it – select a mate, settle down, remain with said mate until one of you has the misfortune of dropping dead, or until you have a nuclear argument, and in that case, you should commence the eight year battle of divorce and separation and bitterness and resentment.

I never really understood either of those options. It always seemed so bizarre to me that love was mutually exclusive. In order for someone to love B, they must first discard of A and all that they built together.

My mother was the other woman for most of my childhood. She was the ‘accidental’ vixen (with motive), she was the unicorn that stormed into the lives of men who were never faithful to start with; she was the affair partner that created thunderbolts in the universe of the men who desired her. She was strong, intelligent, well educated, beautiful, alluring, but she was never really anyone’s number one.

I grew up learning to never speak of the man in her life. I learnt that all three of us couldn’t go out in public together, and that if she was invited to an event, she may not have a date to take. That when he was available, he would come to see her for coffee and that I would never see the inside of his house, or likely travel anywhere in his car, or see him at important family events or holidays. I watched her compartmentalize and schedule her affections.

I observed her bending and flexing in the whirlwind of her manic romantic obsessions while also trying to be a stable, caring, predictable and present mother. I learnt that omission of information and control of detail was safety from a very young age. I learnt that allure was more powerful a tool than commitment and availability. I learnt that power resides in being someone’s drug of choice – their unicorn.

The origin of the Unicorn, for me, comes from my mother, and from my own experiences and mistakes. Men have described her as a drug, as enchanting, an enigma, a Unicorn. Men have destroyed their own universes and empires to chase her, to hunt her down, to capture her.

He called me his unicorn and my heart swelled.

I am a second generation unicorn.

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