Tracey Emin: My Life In A Column

'Some people really have the ability to hurt. For some reason, they can touch you in a very spiteful way'
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Today, I feel utterly wounded. I'm not going to go into the reasons why, but just take my word for it.

What's incredible about the giant, grey, big, gaping emotional wound is how stuffed up with shit it gets. It's like living next door to the Clangers. Wooooo wooooh woo woaa woooooOa. All that stuff just floating around in space, aimlessly, with no trajectoral pattern, but today it's all coming crashing down into my heart. And I can't even swap it with the Soup Dragon.

I've always said that apathy leads to apathy. Energy leads to energy and sadness is simply sad. It's very difficult to make yourself happy. You have to wait until the sadness lifts, goes away, goes back to where it came from. But then if you've got a great, big, gaping wound problem, everything's messy and congealed and sticky.

Imagine lots and lots of cotton thread that's been released from a cotton reel. One moment clear, white, almost like a nest, suddenly being forced and rammed into your heart. And then you are told that the only way that you can get going again is to take the cotton out of your heart, untangle it, wash the blood out of it, thread it through a needle and sew the hole back up again. That's what I feel like I've got to do today.

Friendships work on all different levels. We need friends for different moment, different reasons, different times of our lives. To depend upon a friend for one moment and not another is in no way an act of betrayal, but a simple practicality. Some people don't see it that way. People use the term "being dropped". Being dropped from someone's consciousness for a while is very different from being scrubbed out of their address book, taken off their mailing list and having them delete all your phone numbers from their phone. That, in my terms, is dropping someone. And I'm just on the verge of doing it to someone right now.

I've only ever done it to three people in my life. Actually, it's more than that, it's four. There are some people in your life that really have the ability to hurt. For some reason, they can touch you in a very sharp, spiteful way.

This can be quite funny for a while; you can accept it as part of their idiosyncratic behaviour, and you can make gracious amounts of space for them, because they need it. And then there's betrayal. That's when things get very difficult, because there are different levels of betrayal. There's the kind of betrayal without explanation, that one can only presume exists for ulterior motives, which can only be for the benefit of the betrayer as it shows no regard or feeling for the person being betrayed. Someone who does something for money, for example, or to make themselves look clever. Someone who deals in the tiniest piece of information without knowing the full story. I don't have to live like that. The reason why I don't have to live like that is because I never have. It's never a decision I've had to make. The last piece of art I made that was truly questionable on that level was Everybody I have ever slept with 1963-1995, a small igloo tent appliquéd with the names of everyone I'd ever slept with. But not once in that tent did it say the names of anybody I had ever had sex with; there was no differentiation, because the work was about intimacy.

Due to the vast amount of trouble I got into about that tent, I had people coming up to me at openings and shouting at me because I had put their names in the tent, and I had other people upset with me because their names weren't in the tent. (Jay Jopling, for one, as he fell asleep on the plane, but I didn't.)

When you're in the public eye, you have to be really careful what you say and what you don't say about other people, because it works as a giant echo effect. So if you say something mean, it comes across doubly, doubly mean. I don't understand people who make a living by saying mean things. I don't understand people who do things that are intentionally cruel, because they understand the effect of what they do. Intelligent people who are supposed to be friends. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. YOU CANNOT HIDE.

So, next week, my column might be a list of everybody who has ever fucked me over. Or maybe I just won't bother. Maybe I'll just have some really intimate, profound thoughts. Or maybe I'll make a painting that I fall in love with based on a story by Edgar Allen Poe. Or maybe I'll finish making my blanket Contamination of the Soul. Or maybe I'll just get in my car and drive up and down the motorway really fast. Or maybe I'll just get dressed up and have dinner with the Queen. I have a brilliant life and I have fought against every moment of it that isn't and I work exceptionally hard at making my life and the world I live in a better place. So, now, listen to me you fuckfaces out there that don't like my column, if you don't like it, you don't read it. You leave me and you leave my kind alone.

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