In every relationship there comes a moment of crisis; it doesn’t matter whether it’s a romantic entanglement or a business partnership or a friendship or whatever.
In every one of them, there comes a moment when the concept of Us is challenged and both parties have a decision to make.
If one party wants out at that point, then it’s doomed.
It’s only when both parties are fully together, on the same page, wanting the same things, that you can move past that crisis and into the future. A lot of the time that’s not a decision that can be made right away.
That’s where some people ask for “time to think” and every relationship which has ever weathered a crisis owes much to those in it who take that time out to sort through their heads and their hearts and decide what it is that they want.
The smartest ones actually evaluate what the relationship means to them and if they come back to it, it’s usually with a list of changes that need to be made before things can move forward.
That’s where we are today, as Celtic fans in our relationship with the club and facing this crisis.
It’s a multifaceted crisis, and a lot of it is based on being frustrated, taken for granted, let down … and on a broken bond of trust, which as everyone knows is something that takes years to build and is very, very easy to shatter.
I’m quite open about seeing no way back in terms of trust; this board has shot it so full of holes I’m quite convinced the damage is beyond repair.
This is a strange relationship crisis, because every one of us sees our relationship with Celtic in a very different way, and the answer that seems right to one of us might not seem right to another.
In writing this I’m not, in any way, trying to impose my view on any other person, I’m telling you how I see it myself. If I’m asking anything at all it’s this:
Take some time, even if you’ve renewed your season ticket already, even if it’s too late to make even the token protest of holding onto your money for a week or two.
Take some time and think what this relationship means to you.
Think about where you are with it, how it makes you feel … and most importantly, think about what it is that you want from it.
There are people for whom following Celtic is a habit.
Giving it up is like giving up smoking.
They would find it difficult to crack, because it’s what they’ve always done.
They derive satisfaction from it, but it’s an odd kind.
There are others for whom following Celtic is simply a social experience; it’s the thing they do with their mates, and I’m not necessarily saying they don’t enjoy victory and hate defeat, but they don’t feel the emotional swirl others do when the team is in a bad place like it’s in today.
There are those who feel every hurt done to the club deeply.
They suffer in defeat and they feel a weird kind of ecstacy when the club is doing well.
The fortunes of Celtic actually change how they get through their day, and even how they see the world.
There are those who view Celtic through rose-tinted spectacles.
There are those who are pragmatic about Celtic, seeing the club for what it is, warts and all.
Some people in each of these categories will be sorely tested and conflicted about what to do next.
Some of them won’t be.
Some of those guys will refuse to buy season tickets whilst this shambles remains unresolved.
Some will give the club their money come what may.
None of these fans is less than another.
Being willing to spend your money come what may does not make you a “better” Celtic devotee than someone who sits this one out because they just can’t stomach handing over their cash this time around.
There are people who simply break in relationships and can’t take any more.
That’s especially in true in abusive relationships, or ones where trust has irrevocably broken down.
There are different forms of abuse; perhaps even more awful for some than the physical sort, there is the psychological kind which grinds people down slowly, eroding their confidence and self-belief.
Abusers use various tactics to keep people in those relationships; they drive wedges between those people and their loved ones in a classic divide and isolate strategy. They gaslight them. They lie to them. They keep secrets. They refuse to communicate. They talk down to them or undermine them. They are ungrateful. They are distant and aloof.
Does all of this sound familiar?
It’s complicated, this relationship, by the presence of others in it. Think of this one as a relationship where there are kids involved. In this case, that would be the team.
There are people who’ll stay for the sake of the kids.
Others who’ll try and maintain some sort of civil relationship for the sake of the kids.
There are others who will go to war over custody of the kids because the other party to the relationship can’t be trusted with them.
In those relationships, it is hard on the kids.
They have to grow up with chaos swirling around them, but sometimes it is impossible to walk away, impossible to stay too close and impossible to maintain even the semblance of politeness with the other party.
That’s where the Celtic Trust is.
They will support the kids, but they’re damned if they’ll pretend that this is still a healthy relationship, or one they want any part of. They’re also in manoeuvres to try and find a way of getting their hands on the house.
What do you do when the money you give to the kids is used to keep your former partner in clover?
What if they believe that the financial connection reflects well on them?
What if they go around telling people that your continued link means you approve of their behaviour and that you still harbour loving feelings for them? When do you stop endorsing that view?
Nobody wants to stop paying for their kids, for God’s sake … but you can’t even allow the perception that this person still has a role in your life.
Our partner happens to have deep pockets.
There’s a part of me that thinks that if they want to see the kids alright they should dig in and fund it from their own vast reserves of cash.
I look at the house we bought, the high-tech goodies the kids swan about in, all of it paid for from my pockets and yours, and I look at our board and I think to myself “the kids don’t need to starve … unless you starve them.”
We’ve demonstrated our commitment over and over again; everything this Family has was paid for by us.
If we feel piqued – and we do – then maybe it’s time our other half put their two-bob in.
If they want the responsibility for planning every aspect of our lives, however much of an arse they keep making of it, well let them take responsibility for that a while.
Here’s the thing; although we hear constantly that our other half loves this family and loves the kids, we all know that if we walked away from it all for a while that the kids would go hungry, some would be sent to the orphanage, the house would be re-mortgaged and the neighbours would have a field day sitting watching as it all fell apart.
Because they don’t care as much as we do.
They’re used to taking from this relationship.
It’s is a one-way street, and we know that it is.
We’ve seen and heard too much this year to doubt it.
Those relationships are unhealthy. They are soul destroying.
So this is where we are now, and what we all need to do is sit down and think.
We know what this relationship costs us. We know we’re unloved in it. We know that our partner doesn’t deserve our continued loyalty … and we also need to think about the kids.
Every one of us has to decide what this means to us, and what we want to see out of this relationship going forward. Those who are sticking with this partner of ours knows something big; that things have to change, for the better, or the next crisis isn’t far away.
I’ll tell you what isn’t an option; soldiering on as if nothing is wrong, because there are issues here that are too serious to ignore and trying to will only make them worse.
So please do take the time out. Think it over.
Before you write another cheque or spend another penny … think things through.
A little bit of soul searching makes a huge difference and those relationships which survive it get stronger as a result of that honest-to-God analysis.
And the ones that don’t … well they didn’t deserve to anyway.