I don’t know if it has been a good week or not. I’ve certainly had a lot to deal with; there has been pain and joy in equal measures. Tuesday was the worst day of the year, when I found out that the bank had applied yet more penalty charges to my account and I was in even greater trouble than I had thought. I’m sinking further into debt and it seems incredibly unfair, and so I decided to go down the road to see if anyone at my local branch would be interested in helping me. I was seen very quickly by one of the junior managers, who agreed that the charges seemed severe and gave me a number to ring. I rushed home to ring it, and to begin with the call seemed to be quite a success, as I got hold of an operator having a good day, who had all manner of suggestions for me, culminating in one that might take me out of debt once and for all. It would have involved them giving me a consolidating loan to pay off the overdraft and all my other debts – the sound of taking out a loan initially seems scary and possibly insane, but the operator was sure that he could get reasonable, affordable terms for me.

 He said he needed five minutes to work out the exact terms, and so I put the phone down and waited for him to call back. Half an hour later, he still hadn’t called and I was absolutely desperate for the phone to ring. It had felt like I was finally getting somewhere with my problems. I hadn’t expected anything to come from my decision to complain that day, and to find someone at the bank who seemed to want to help was wonderful. I called them up after half an hour and was instantly disappointed to hear the voice of a different operator who didn’t sound anywhere near as sympathetic. I managed to talk him into considering the loan option which the previous operator had been so keen on; he put me on hold for twenty minutes while he considered his own terms, before coming back to me with the news that my application was unsuccessful because I am not in employment.

 It doesn’t annoy me that they turned me down in the end – it annoys me that for nearly an hour I was led to believe that there might be a way out of this rut. Whoever that first operator was, I wish to God I could get hold of him again and persuade him to take up my case, but I didn’t catch his name when I spoke to him, so I imagine we’ll never speak again. So here I will remain, hopelessly in debt to the bank, losing nearly all my unemployment benefit to overdraft charges. It’s not the only thing getting me down this week.

 I saw Gareth again last night. We had a lovely night; everything was absolutely perfect. I headed to his place out in Hertfordshire and we shared pizza in front of a lovely, warm fire whilst watching the cat hilariously play with an elastic band. It was my favourite night of the year. I felt spiritually nourished by it because everything was just so nice: the company, the atmosphere, the feelings. Gareth and I couldn’t keep our hands off each other as usual, and once again we didn’t get much sleep. To wake up in his arms this morning was even more beautiful than before. He allowed me to sleep in while he went off to work early, which was nice, and he even lent me his travelcard so I could get home because I didn’t have any money to put on mine. He’s the perfect gentleman, in every sense of the word, and he’s also stunningly attractive. I still can’t believe he’s interested in me!

 I am partly serious when I say that. I’ve never been desired by such a person before; no man who I’ve ever wanted has wanted me in exactly the same way. Over and over again he tells me I’m beautiful, amazing, gorgeous, and I want to say precisely the same things to him, because I mean them. I’m absolutely sure that Gareth means it too, but whether he will want to continue seeing me in the long run is anyone’s guess. Once he gets to know me, what I’m really like, surely he’ll be inclined to back off? The vast majority of men are, in the end. It’s sad but true.

 I just can’t bring myself to trust that this one might actually work out. I shouldn’t be so desperate for it to become anything more than a casual fling, because as far as my sponsor and everyone else in the program is concerned, I’m not ‘looking’ for a long term relationship any more. My mind has been opened this year to the possibility that I don’t need one man to save me. I could have several men. If someone should choose to cut ties with me, like Martin did, it shouldn’t be important because I don’t need anyone. But in my heart, I am starting to need to be loved again. I can feel that desperate need to be rescued creeping up on me, like it always does, because things are developing past the point of casual sex with Gareth, and I am beginning to like him.

 I really don’t want this to happen to me, but I have no control over it. And when I’m with him, lying in his arms and looking at his beautiful green eyes, it’s rather nice to feel that love which I’m not supposed to be feeling. After just a week, I want to tell him that I love him! How can it be!? People don’t fall in love in the space of a week, do they? Well, I wouldn’t know. I’ve never been here before.

 As I’ve said many times, nothing like this has ever happened before. I’ve never actually slept with a man who I also wanted to be with emotionally. I know I want to keep seeing Gareth, to get to know him and to become part of his life, and I can’t stop myself from wanting that. But what if he ends up feeling differently? He could turn around tomorrow and tell me he’s lost interest, which is entirely possible because it’s what men do sometimes. And then I’d be left alone again, heartbroken because yet again I allowed myself to become vulnerable with someone who didn’t deserve it. How can I not be vulnerable, though? In all that time I’ve spent with Gareth this week, it would have been impossible not to invest some emotion in him. I wouldn’t just go all the way to Hertfordshire for anyone.

 I was upset most of today as I had no money to send Gareth a text message to let him know that I was on my way home. He had asked me to let him know when I would be leaving his house; by the evening he might have thought I was ignoring him when the truth is that I’m too broke to afford one meagre little text message. I travelled home almost in tears, and then when I got here I found my mum in bed instead of at work, claiming to be sick. Which sent me over the edge – it was not what I needed today.

 There have been a number of situations in my sobriety that have summed up everything wrong with my life, and today has been full of those situations. The inability to send a text message; my mother being ill in bed, dependent on me for practically everything. I am incredibly sad right now because when my mother is not all right, which is quite often, I can’t feel all right myself. I become the helpless toddler once more, left to fend for myself while she is absent and recovering. In reality I haven’t been a toddler for over two decades, but in my head I still am! Her being ill on occasions like this brings me back to the past, to my childhood, and I hate it. Coming back to a home where you have someone lying in bed, claiming to be dying of flu when they’re probably not, is not nice for anyone at the best of times. I have to come back to this on a regular basis.

 I hate myself for complaining, when I really should be grateful to my mother for everything that she’s done for me. The adult part of me is grateful, it really is. But the child in me is strong; so strong that I had to run a bath tonight just so I could sit in the bathroom and cry. I needed the sound of my tears to be drowned out by the running water because I couldn’t let my mother hear me. She doesn’t deal well with me being upset, especially when she is apparently sick.

 I was crying tonight because I could see the rest of my life panning out in much the same fashion. Through the tears I repeatedly begged God to take me away from this place, which made me cry harder. I’ve been stuck in this small flat all my life, and there is just as little chance of me escaping now as there was ten years ago. I feel trapped here, and it is at the root of all my problems. Unless I get a job, I will continue to be trapped here, and it’s not nice here. Gareth’s house is nice, which is why my evenings with him tend to pass by rather like pleasant dreams. They’re the kind of evenings I used to dream about. To actually experience that kind of thing now is lovely, but when I have to come back here on the evenings in between I just end up feeling worse, because those lovely experiences are not really mine. They belong to men like Gareth, who have all the power when it comes to deciding whether I can have the experience or not. If Gareth hadn’t invited me to Hertfordshire then I wouldn’t have experienced last night, it’s as simple as that. I don’t live the sort of life yet where I can spontaneously enjoy myself in a comfortable, pleasant space like that. It always has to be planned and waited for. If I had my own place, then I guess the comfort and pleasantness which I felt last night would easily become more of a permanent thing in my life. At the moment, such occasions are few and far between, because I have no job, no money and no future.

 Everyone keeps saying things like ‘it will happen when it happens’, which doesn’t help at all because I’m so stuck right now it hurts. It’s like I’ve woken up from a four year slumber and I’ve suddenly realised how much I hate my life. Though there are great things in my life today thanks to the fellowship, they won’t be enough until I have my own space. I guess it’s thanks to the program that I have finally realised what needs to change in my life. For four years I have tolerated being back at home – for four years I thought I was growing to like it. But I will never like it here, that is a fact. Not just because my relationship with my mother is toxically co-dependent. It is not a nice area; I don’t like the people around here. I don’t feel safe here. And I really need to feel safe to be happy. But none of that can happen until I get a job, and finding employment is the one thing I have no control over at the moment! I’m doing all I can, and nothing is turning up.

 For a very long time I wasn’t ready for work, I know I wasn’t. It has taken this week to bring me to my knees and make me realise that I need to be ready. God isn’t going to put work my way until I really am ready. When that finally happens, it will be like walking into one of those dreams where I return to school. For ten years I have had the same dream; recently I’ve been haunted by it much more than usual. It’s always the same: I get there only to find that I hate school as much as I ever did and I want to leave. When I go to work, I’ll hate it in exactly the same way and I will want to leave. But I can’t leave. I can’t run away from that fear any more. I need to finally face the world and be a part of it. I cannot be weak and helpless any more, even though in my heart I feel I am. So this is where my recovery really begins, right here. The first year was like a practise run, I suppose. I had the comforting security of a degree course at University to get me up in the mornings. Today, I don’t have that security net. It’s just me, and the world.


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