The unexpected twists and turns of life have been good to me this week – very good, in fact. Two weeks after starting work in Notting Hill, I still have a job. Unbelievable, really. Even more unbelievably, I seem to be settling into the job. I appear to be performing well in my new role. It looks like I’m getting recognition for the hard work I’ve been doing – at the end of the day I was called into an empty room by the boss, who asked me if I would like to accept more hours and a permanent role, starting from next week. There was me thinking she was going to break the bad news to me that my services were no longer required. “Thanks very much, sling your hook,” she could have said, but she didn’t. She actually went as far as to tell me that I had impressed her over the past fortnight, that I was turning out to be a valued member of ‘the team’. I was left utterly speechless – I could barely thank her. I’m still thinking somewhere that she must have made a mistake, or that it’s all a big joke, and when I get in on Monday they’ll drop the pretence. Surely they can’t really think I’m that good at my job? No way have I really lasted to this point without revealing myself as an incapable fraud?
My ability to do the job isn’t exactly what I’m questioning at the moment; my personal relationships with ‘the team’ are another matter. I’m quickly realising the extent to which I secretly believe that everyone there hates me. When someone says something nice, shares a joke with me, offers to make me a cup of tea, inside I think they must be doing it to make fun of me. In much the same way I used to believe that people in AA were taking the piss every time they invited me to coffee/initiated a conversation with me/asked for my number. What’s to like about me? I’ve seen so much evidence to prove that I am likeable over the years, yet I still find myself asking that question. I guess I always thought of work as the final taboo in my life, and everyone who I was to come across in the work environment would be so normal, so much better than me that it would be impossible to impress them, let alone make friends with any of them.
Anyway, now that I am quite likely to still have a job in three months from now, all kinds of ideas and opportunities are presenting themselves to me. As soon as I walked out of work today I switched my phone on to find a voicemail message from a good friend in the fellowship, asking if I’m looking for a place to live because he has a free room available in his flat from next month. The rent’s reasonable; it’s in a great part of town; I’ve thought about it all evening, and I think I could manage the cost. God, I think I could actually do it. I could leave home, move to the centre of London, to the place where I should always have been! It would be a dream come true, especially with a friend from the rooms. A few weeks ago I couldn’t even think about such a marvellous possibility.
Suddenly everything is happening, everything is changing, really quickly. I asked God to change my life, and guess what, God is answering. The Artist’s Way says that all you have to do is ask: I guess Julia Cameron is right on that score. If I hadn’t been through the hardship of unemployment for a year and a half, I wouldn’t be appreciating this rapid improvement in fortunes as much as I am right now. I’m finally beginning to live an adult life. I’m considering my capabilities, thinking about what I can do and what I can’t do; I’m making plans and decisions, all on my own. I didn’t need a job to give me an identity, I needed it for independence, and that elusive thing is finally appearing, years after I began to think that I deserved it.
I tried independence eight years ago, and of course I fucked it up. I was far too young. In a way I could still be too young, but that’s not important now. My time is now. It’s here: God is giving me a chance, and I have to take it. I might never get another one.
Tonight’s SAA meeting was the icing on the week’s cake. Since the summer this meeting has grown at an incredible rate: from just two regular members two months ago it has gone to eight or nine regulars. It’s like group therapy. We all know each other, we all sit round in a circle and we share the truth. The real truth, not the censored truth that might be deemed appropriate for other fellowships. We talk about the fickled, fake gay scene, the shame involved with growing up gay in a straight world; the terror of intimacy, the horrors of drunken shagging, the appeal of oblivion and the price we’ve all paid for it. We always go for coffee afterwards. It’s turning into a little family. It’s certainly my favourite point of the week now. I will always look forward to it. God, it’s what I need. I can share about anything there, not just sex addiction. For two years I’ve looked for a meeting like that. Now more than ever, it’s the sort of thing that’s vital to my recovery.
Everything is going so well in my life right now, I can’t fucking believe it. Thank God I got sober two and a half years ago! I wouldn’t be here now if I were still drinking, that’s for sure. I might have gone for the interview and got this job, but I wouldn’t have lasted more than a few days. As it stands, I’ve now managed to last longer in this job than I did in all but one of the jobs I had pre-recovery. If I were still drinking I definitely wouldn’t have a safe place to go every Friday night, where I can talk about how I really feel and be appreciated and understood by people who’ve been there too. A place where there is no judgment, no cruising, no attitude. Some of the men who go to this meeting are very physically attractive, of course, but that doesn’t really bother me. I don’t need any of them to complete me. I like them as friends, nothing more. To be able to say that, and mean it, is just incredible.