6 months, 10 days

I’m very tired tonight, so it will have to be a short one. I know the main cause of the tiredness is all the anxiety that I went through before this afternoon’s exam. I was so nervous earlier on I could have cried. I really didn’t want this to go wrong. The strangest thing is that until last year, I never got nervous before exams. I really don’t know why that was the case. In all other areas I’ve suffered from a profound lack of self confidence, but when it comes to education I always seemed to sail through comfortably, to an extent. Until last year, anyway. Just before I quit drinking I turned up at one of my second year finals hungover from a big night out, and I automatically failed the exam because I could only answer one question out of two. I had to resit the exam later in the summer, and luckily I passed second time round, but only just. That experience must have put the fear of God into me, because the thought of repeating it is just too much to contemplate.

I ensured success in today’s exam by spending the week revising, rather than leaving it to one or two days beforehand like I always did in the past. Today’s exam went so well I came out with a smile on my face afterwards. I actually felt very clever, having answered a geeky question on Prospect Theory which I know not everyone would dare to attempt!

I needed to go to a meeting tonight so I went to my regular one in town, where I saw all the usual people. I didn’t share, because I felt genuinely OK tonight. I was happy to just to listen, and it was a very busy meeting. The chair was amazing, with a story very similar to mine. He talked about the shame of growing up as a gay man, and I could identify so strongly, it was quite emotional. Shame is undoubtedly a part of my story as much as fear and anger. It’s blatantly obvious that I continue to experience shame on a daily basis. It will take a long time to get over that.

There are just things I don’t like about myself, such as my thick wavy hair, my glasses, my dry skin, my thinness. My sexuality has also been a feature in there over the years, though I’m not entirely sure where I stand on that at the moment. I think part of me is too scared to begin dealing with it. I know it’s pointless disliking those things because I can’t do anything about them, and they’re nothing to be ashamed of anyway, but that’s the way I’ve grown up to feel about myself. I need to work on this toxic, all-pervasive shame, obviously. Hopefully step 5 will be the start of that work.

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