It is nearly 2 o’clock in the morning and I cannot go to bed. The reasons for this inability to get up from the seat in front of the computer and move to my bed two rooms away are multiple but simple. I dislike the thought of going to bed without feeling as if I have achieved anything in the day just gone. Although I could not have achieved very much more than I actually did on Monday, I still do not feel very ready to call it a day. In the day just passed I’ve written and read quite a lot, I’ve meditated, done some healthy food shopping, even applied for a few jobs. Yet the sense of lack in achievement remains with me at this late hour. An hour ago I was lying on the sofa in front of the TV, exhausted and stuck in an old pit of fearful melancholy about the lack of change that I have seen in my life this year. The most significant thing about this year is that I’ve survived a series of severe depressive attacks. I want to be proud of the fact that I am still sober, still relatively sane after all of that, but it’s not going to be one of those nights where I go to bed feeling proud of myself.
My mother was in a really bad mood earlier this evening . She’s in a bad mood at some point most days, but this evening it went on for longer than usual. She berated me a few times for having my music up too loud (I really didn’t think it was that loud), and when I challenged her on it she threw one of her childish fits, as I knew she would. Later she had the TV on in the other room at full volume; it bothered me a lot but I didn’t see the point in challenging her again. All I felt able to do was lie here in my part of the flat and wish for another life. A life where I live in my own place, where I don’t get picked on for living in my own chosen way. I hesitate to describe my current situation as unfair because I don’t wish to make myself a victim of it any more. But I’ve done all that I feel able to do to get myself out of this situation, and it hasn’t worked. I’ve done two degrees, spent a year applying for jobs nearly every day. In spite of my best efforts I remain stuck in the same place that haunted me at the age of sixteen. This small flat, my home, has felt like a prison for the past twelve years. And I don’t know how to get out of it.
If I say the serenity prayer a few times will it help me to accept this thing that I cannot change? I highly doubt it. I’ve had enough time to accept my situation; I am astute enough to know that there is no use in resisting it mentally. If sobriety has done anything it has enabled me to see how things really are. The more sober I am the more incongruous this place is with the person that I want to be. I have been sick of this place for so long, it hurts. The meditation that I have been doing for the past week or so has only served to make that sickness clearer to me. My heart is telling me that I have to go. But there is nowhere to go! I’m putting the footwork in by looking for employment which will enable me to afford a space of my own, yet the results are not coming.
I’ve lost count of how many different application forms and CVs I have sent off this year. Every application I send is like a prayer for independence. I pray every single day for this change but it is not coming. It is exactly one year and five days since I finished University and became unemployed. Is this really the place that I am meant to be in? If it is, why is my heart telling me that it’s not? Obviously the global recession has put paid to a lot of people’s dreams this year. For someone like me with next to no work experience, being given a chance by any given employer is unlikely at best. And I am not saying that to be pessimistic – we have to be realistic here. It’s no use trying to comfort myself with platitudes and clichés about positive thinking. The recession may be over but its effects are here to stay. I may have to put up with this prison for a while longer.
Why is independence so important to me? Why can’t I find a way of fitting more comfortably into my present surroundings? If it wasn’t such a small space, if my mother’s ‘isms’ weren’t so loud, fitting in might be more possible. So many ifs. I have lived here for long enough to know that the environment isn’t going to change. Five years ago when I was forced to return to London I specifically told mum that things were going to have to change. By that I meant no more telling me what to do, no more waiting up for me when I’m out late at night, no more shouting and tantrum throwing. There was significant change for the better, but it wasn’t enough for me. I shouldn’t be expecting her to change any more than she already has. It’s her flat, not mine. Having no rights over my own home doesn’t help me to feel very secure here.
Every time she shouts and throws a tantrum I get a very strong fear of abandonment in my gut. A fear which comes from the distant past, when a young boy experienced the tragedy of conditional love from its mother. She didn’t mean to create that tragedy. She was (is) just a sick woman who will never find the inner strength to seek help and change. The only person I can change here is myself. But I do not want to change myself any more. It’s my surroundings that need changing. When we live apart we get on much better. In the three years that I lived in Norwich I actually missed her at times, something I would never have thought possible in my previous life. Living back here makes me resent her to an extent that is less than healthy. I need and want to move back out into the world. Yet I get the sense that God is keeping the opportunities from me for some reason. Does God think that I’m still not ready for the change? If it’s God’s will for me to remain here forever then it’s God’s will. But I don’t think I can cope with this confinement for very much longer.
Tomorrow I will step the job search up a gear. I will start using the phone to call employers directly, if appropriate. I’m not yet at the stage where I feel comfortable walking into shops and offices with my CV uncalled. I think that is something only an exceptionally healthy economy brimming with jobs would call for.
I really can’t afford to let my life stagnate in this flat any more. It has haunted me and troubled me for twenty six years. When I was eighteen I miraculously managed to get away for a few years, aware only in the slightest way that the break was necessary. After that it’s like I was pulled back, by fear as much as anything else. For twenty six years this place has been home to my worst nightmares. It is a trap that only a gargantuan amount of effort can pull me out of. Once I’m out, there can be no coming back. I don’t know what it’s going to be like out there. With freedom I know there is responsibility, which could be as scary and painful at times as imprisonment in my childhood home has been. But I yearn so much and feel ready for that freedom now. How could I not?