As the result of a few events brought about by my own alcoholic determination to feel sorry for myself, I have experienced a great deal of unnecessary pain this week. The first event was my trip to Heaven on Saturday, perhaps badly judged, the emotional consequences of which I really paid for that night. There was another event today at work, where the most insignificant thing turned into something major in my mind, essentially ruining my entire day. For some reason Jan was in one of his moods this morning, and decided to take it out on me with a petty little comment about a customer enquiry that I hadn’t dealt with perfectly. “You always go on about treating people like human beings, but you’ve just spoken to this person like a robot,” he looked at me as if I’d just raped the customer. “Thanks, Jan, for being such a patronizing cunt,” I almost said to him, but I didn’t.

Honestly, the amount of effort I’ve put into learning about proper customer service, the sleep I’ve lost and the tears I’ve shed over getting it right, sometimes it really doesn’t seem worth it. For the past few months my relationship with Jan has really been quite good; after months of struggling to understand each other I thought we’d managed to construct a modicum of respect for each other. Only yesterday he sent me a lovely e-mail thanking me for spending the day with the new starter, telling me I’d done a brilliant job. Then this morning he has to go and ruin it all.

The truth that I’ve had to accept is I am desperate for Jan’s approval. I’m desperate for everyone’s approval. Whether it’s in the office or in Heaven nightclub, I want to be loved and respected all the time. Maybe I’m just like everyone else in that respect, but I found out years ago that it’s not possible to be liked by everyone on the planet. So why do I continue to go about things as if it is possible? I think today in the end I was more bothered about the fact that I was bothered by Jan’s comment, than the actual comment itself. After nearly three years of sobriety, I’m still repeating the same patterns, making the same mistakes in my thinking.

The first clever thing I did today was go to an AA meeting in the evening, where I heard a brilliant chair full of nuggets of wisdom that were exactly what I needed to hear. “Acceptance is letting go of the hope that you will ever get a better past,” was one of the brilliant things I heard. “The main benefit of doing the twelve steps is that it helps you to distinguish between the voice of truth and the voice of the disease,” was another nugget. The person giving the chair clearly had a lot of good recovery. Most of the time I think I’m doing well, but it’s so easy to forget the basics of recovery, the fundamental tools that can stop me from having days like today, which is why I need to keep going back to hear shares like that.

While it’s true that I will always be an alcoholic with character defects, it doesn’t seem right that I should keep having entire days ruined by small, irrelevant comments. Neither can it be right that I am still, after all these years, leaving Heaven nightclub in the early hours of Sunday morning feeling like I want to kill myself, just because I haven’t had sex. Things are going so well for me this year, but the better my life gets the clearer the problems become. Life doesn’t have to be perfect, but there are certainly areas that I could be doing a lot better in.

I will never be as approved of as I want to be – I shouldn’t have to seek the approval of anyone in the world except myself and my higher power – but that’s not to say I can’t try for a bit more respect. I made myself miserable today and on Saturday night, simply because I still choose to believe that I’m not as good as other people. If I’d found the courage to approach that guy in Heaven; if I’d the confidence to build friendships with other people in the office outside of my small team, then I probably wouldn’t feel so alone when things go a bit wrong. I can have the friendships and the relationships, I just need to start reaching out for them. And that is the hardest thing to imagine, because I’ve spent twenty-seven years waiting for other people to reach out to me. I’ve played a passive role in the world my entire life. That is the core of the problem, this belief that I can’t start making approaches because I’m not good enough to. As I progress in sobriety I keep being shown the same thing, time and time again. I’m so desperate to avoid the truth that I can’t think about it for long without anxiety and fear fogging my brain. It’s the truth and it always be – it’s just a question of when I will be ready to do something about it.

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