Since Sunday things have improved dramatically on the spiritual and emotional front, as I guess they do after revelations of a personal nature. I haven’t thought about Gareth much, nor have I thought about sex nearly as much as I normally would. I haven’t been tempted to use porn or to set up a new gay dating profile. It’s only been five days, I may still be in blissful denial about the truly cunning nature of my addiction – but for now, I’m OK.
On Sunday I spent most of the day with the family, having been invited by my father to my half brother’s confirmation ceremony. It was one of those slightly rare opportunities to see most of the people in the world that I’m related to in the same room. Everyone was there – all my cousins and half brothers, as well all but one of my aunts and uncles. I’ve only seen my aunt Burnadette once in the last twelve years. She lives in Ireland now, so seeing her together with my other two aunts was pleasantly reminiscent of my childhood, when they all lived in the same house in Fulham and I used to go and see them at weekends.
My half brother Niall’s confirmation took place in a Roman Catholic church in Hammersmith. As we were heading there after a huge, delicious pub lunch I realised that I hadn’t set foot inside a church for about twelve years. I’ve been in hundreds of church halls during my time in AA, but I haven’t been inside an actual church for a mass since my school days. When the mass started I was brought right back to those times, with the incense and the hymns and the kneeling forward and the praying. I remembered the words to pretty much all the prayers, and it didn’t feel too weird, thanks to the informal type of praying that I have practised on and off during the past three years. Being in recovery has all but removed my resentment towards the Catholic church – I don’t bear anything like the grudge I used to bear against the religion at all – and, as it turns out, I can feel quite comfortable in mass. I didn’t have to go, they would have been happy if I’d just attended the after party, but I wanted to go. I don’t know my half brother at all. I’ve only seen him a handful of times during the past five years, so I can’t exactly say it was wonderful to see him celebrate his coming of age in the Catholic way. Part of me wonders if I could ever get to know him, now that he’s essentially grown up, embarking on his own life. It’s so odd, watching someone who is so similar to me at that age, entering adulthood in the same introspective, sensitive, withdrawn way. He spent most of Sunday in silence, lost in thought, barely able to maintain eye contact with anyone. I felt for him as he had to walk to the front of the church to receive his blessing from the bishop, he must have been dying of embarrassment.
The rest of the week has been a whirlwind of work and creativity for me. I’ve continued trying to settle into my new, more responsible role at work, and it’s been surprisingly OK, even though Jan’s just gone on holiday for two weeks and I’ve essentially been looking after things on my own. I’ve asked for help from colleagues in various parts of the company and I’ve received it. I’m using the phone a lot more, now that I’m downstairs and most of the people who can help me are upstairs. It’s taken eight months to feel OK about picking up the phone – I’m really averse to using the thing, by nature more than anything. All in all I can’t find any fault with my job at the moment, apart from the lack of adequate air conditioning in the office. It’s been seriously hot there all week, and I’m coming home smelling noticeably worse every day. Though it’s bad, I’ve been able to laugh and crack jokes about it with my colleagues. While the air con is being sorted out the management have installed a fridge full of free soft drinks especially for us, which shows how valued we are really.
Yesterday was, sadly, Melanie’s last ever day in the company. She’s moving on in the world, onto better things, and we were able to chat at length about it in the evening when she invited me to a friend’s art exhibition in London. After she’d bade a final, emotional farewell to everyone in the office we caught the sweaty bus into town and talked about what she hopes to achieve next in life. I found myself feeling slight envious of her: she clearly has the money to leave a high-flying job for a potential period of unemployment, and it was clear to see how relieved she is to be free of that high-flying job. She says she wants to do something worthwhile now, something like teaching, and I believe she’d be excellent in such a career. In many ways she was like a teacher to me. She gave me that chance last year, the foot in the door that I needed, and now look where I am. I wanted to thank her yesterday, but the chance never came up. As soon as we got to the exhibition in Angel she was off chatting to her friends and I was pretty much left to my own devices. The exhibition consisted entirely of the work of local graduates, and seeing all those 21 year olds nervously and proudly display their wares was weirdly inspiring to me. I’ve tried to increase my artistic output in the past year or so but it hasn’t reached anything like the level I’d like it to be, and part of me thinks I could never produce art properly unless I went back to University to be one of those students again.
God, the thought of returning to Uni yet again is a tiring one – rest assured it probably won’t happen for a very long time, if at all. Saying that, I could perhaps seeing myself doing what Melanie’s done: working for a living till my mid 30’s, then seeing how I feel. I don’t know much how choice I’ll have until then, but at least I’m able to see that there might be a choice, at some point. It’s just incredible to think how much my life has changed in the last two years since I finished being a student, how much I’ve changed. I have money now and a daily routine; I wear smart clothes every day and I eat properly. I don’t really miss the endless studying and the poverty, the hangovers and the constant search for reasons to go out. But it would be lovely to think that one day I could go back and study something I really love, for no reason other than I want to do it. I loved Psychology but I didn’t exactly choose to go back to Uni. At the time I had no money and no job prospects, and it seemed like the only sensible thing to do. My dream still is to study psychotherapy at Regents College…who knows, I still have plenty of life left.