Recovering from New York took a bit longer than expected. I spent most of the weekend asleep, I was so tired. By Sunday night I felt that enough energy had been regained to go out. I met Phil and some other non-AA friends that I don’t really like in Clapham, for a night of dancing at the Two Brewers, one of my old drinking haunts. I hadn’t been there for a long time, and with it being a bank holiday weekend, I thought maybe it would be fun. I always liked the Two Brewers; I only had a bad time there when I was drinking. Going back felt very odd on Sunday. Having money to spend was the first big change from the old days; knowing I wouldn’t be waking up with a hangover on Monday morning was the second, and probably the biggest, change.
In spite of that it felt much like the old days. Spending time with people not in recovery is not something I do very often these days, apart when I am at work. We danced to the same old cheesy tunes, drooled over the same hot guys, laughed at the same tired jokes. I had a good time, though. I thought I didn’t miss the gay scene at all, but in some ways I do. I was able to let my hair down on Sunday night, for the first time in a long time, and it was pretty refreshing. I hardly spent any money, and I didn’t drink, which is always a bonus.
The following day, bank holiday Monday, I had a night at the theatre to look forward to. I was going to see The Little Dog Laughed at the Garrick Theatre, on my own, as it was something I’d wanted to see for a while, and this month I was finally able to afford that trip to the theatre. The play was excellent: a funny, clever, touching story about an actor about to hit the big time in Hollywood who has to hide his sexuality. For the second night in a row I really enjoyed myself, even though I was on my own, because I had paid to be there, and at that very moment I was exactly where I wanted to be.
On Tuesday everyone went back to work, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting it to be. My colleagues didn’t exactly go out of their ways to cover for me while I was away, but my absence hadn’t caused as big a disaster as it could have. People seemed pleased to see me, as well as interested to hear about my week in New York. So it’s been a good few days at work. Today I had a big hurdle to get over, as I was booked in to do another shift on the helpdesk. Apparently they were short of staff again, and I was the only person who could help out. I’d been dreading this evening all week. I just didn’t want to do it – every time I’ve helped out on helpdesk before it’s been an unmitigated disaster, because I just don’t feel confident on the phones with customers. I’m fine writing e-mails to people, but when I actually have to speak to them on the phone, I freeze up.
Today it was a slightly different story. I don’t know, maybe I’ve been there long enough to know what to say to people now – it wasn’t actually that bad in the end. I took about thirty calls, and I was able to deal with nearly all of them without having to ask for help. I may never be the perfect helpdesk operator, but at least I finally know that I can do it now, and another part of the job has stopped being a dreaded event.
Tomorrow the whole company is being taken to a hotel in Surrey for the quarterly business update meeting. Last quarter they simply booked out a pub round the corner from the office; this time they’re treating us to four star accomodation, with gourmet food and a bed for the night included. I’ve sort of been dreading this for weeks, because I’m going to have to spend the whole day and night with my colleagues – there can be no excuses, no get out clauses. Everyone’s expected to attend. I guess the reason for booking out a four star hotel this time was to compensate for the burden of having to spend six hours at the QBU and follow-up dinner. I’m looking forward to seeing my room; the socialising that’s always involved in these things I’m not looking forward to so much. Every social event I’ve had to attend since I started there has been slightly painful. Maybe it’s like that for everyone. I mean, none of us got to choose to work with each other, we all just got lumped into the same team and had to get used to each other.
This is definitely one of those high class problems that I used to hear about in my early days in recovery. Going to Surrey with my work colleagues tomorrow isn’t going to kill me. I’ll live; I’ll even get a nice meal and four poster bed out of it. But I can’t help remembering those horrible school trips I used to be sent on as a kid, those mornings when I had to take an overnight bag in and get on a coach with everyone I didn’t like, ready to set off into the countryside, into the dreaded unknown. I’ll be getting on a coach with some people that I don’t particularly like tomorrow. In twenty-four hours from now I’ll be stuck in the middle of nowhere with them all. I have to keep reminding myself that this isn’t a school trip. It’s a reward for all my hard work in the past five months. Why can’t I accept that?