I’m not feeling good today. What was a minor sore throat has developed into a crappy cold / chesty cough, and I just wanted to lie in bed all day, but I couldn’t because I loathe wasting even a second at the weekends now. I dragged myself out of the door this morning to go and see my mum. When I got to Holloway I felt strangely relieved for a short time, like I’d just come home, even though I haven’t lived in Holloway for nearly a year and it’s even longer since I considered it home. It was nice to see her again (hadn’t seen her since before I went to Spain.) We did what we normally do: sat watching TV for a couple of hours, not saying very much. At 4 o’clock I felt like I wanted to go to a meeting, so I left Holloway and took the tube down to Chelsea, to the gay meeting where a mostly older crowd gathers every week. My feeling of relief continued there, as I almost forgot about my horrible chest infection whilst listening to people share about really nice things, like cooking and cleaning and listening to music. Then right at the end of the meeting, someone decided to let rip at what they see as the invasion in AA of ‘meaninglessness’. It was a negative, bitchy attack on people who prefer to talk about normal everyday things, rather than he horrors of drinking all the time. “What happened to AA?” he asked rhetorically at the end. It’s a sentiment I’ve experienced in AA before, this idea that in recent years it’s become more like a social club than a place for alcoholics to recover from a fatal illness. Personally I don’t see what’s wrong with social clubs. The tone of the meeting’s final share brought my temporary good mood right down.
After that I was hungry but I couldn’t face going home, so I walked into Soho, trying to enjoy the September sun, planning in my head how much I could afford to spend on dinner. When I got to Soho the place was crawling with drunk people. There was some kind of street festival going on, I couldn’t really figure it out. It doesn’t matter what the name of the festival is, people will find any reason to stand around guzzling from cans. I could have gone anywhere for dinner – Battersea, Brixton, Fulham, Southwark – but I always seem to drift towards Soho because it’s one of my spiritual homes. In spite of the 24 hour drinking culture I usually feel comfortable there. I know the place like the back of my hand, and I’ve never stopped feeling that thrill inside when I’m immersed in the crowds, in the colour, in the vibrancy and the light.
After a moderately expensive dinner in a nice French restaurant I finally decided to come home. I was tired, ill and on the verge of becoming agitated. There were too many people around for a Sunday night. Being ill and tired didn’t help. On the way home the crowds didn’t thin out, they just kept getting fatter. By the South Bank there were millions of people gathered for another event that I hadn’t heard anything about. The amount of booze flowing was ridiculous. Even the kids were holding metal cans. I felt the familiar rollercoaster of anxiety that always comes in response to stressful stimuli when I’m not on medication, and I had to keep myself from running back to the flat.
* * *
In the film ‘Shutter Island’ one of the characters talks about having an insect in their head which makes them not be themselves. Sometimes I think I have an insect in my head which makes me hate the world and everyone in it. I didn’t always hate people, but gradually over the years I guess the reactions of some to my different-ness have taught me to treat everyone with distrust and fear. I’m coming to the point where I wonder if I’ll ever get over this distrust. When I’m deep in it, it coats everything with a thick layer of grey negativity, so that I can’t even view myself without being vitriolic. Every person that comes into my sight is subject to silent ridicule, because they’re all getting in my way, and they all probably hate me anyway so why shouldn’t I think of all the things that are wrong with them? My head was so full of bitter vitriol tonight, I accidentally on purpose bumped into so many people that I was exhausted by the time I got back to the flat. It was such a relief when I came in and found both of my housemates had gone to bed. My poisonous resentment towards both of them is reaching new levels of hatred, it’s probably better for them that I don’t see them at all at the moment.
I don’t really know what’s happening to me, where this is all going. If you were to ask me why I’m so angry, I’d only be able to form half an explanation, consisting of rehashed events from the past, before it all becomes a bit hazy and I become angry with you for asking, and furious at myself for not being able to get out of this mindset. I know I’m angry with the people at school for bullying me all the time and I know I’m angry with the world for letting that sort of thing go on, but don’t I make it worse by becoming a bully in my head? Do I not compound the whole situation with the nasty remarks I prepare for people who through no fault of their own get in my way? I can think of so many reasons why I’m different to everyone else, why I deserve my fury more than they do, but if I was to spend the rest of my life trying to change the world into something more acceptable to me, I’d never be able to do it. So what’s the point in continuing to feel this way?
I’ve been infected with a poisonous rage that was unfortunately ignored for years while I drank on it, and now I seem to be really suffering. It is no coincidence that I become physically ill after a particularly stressful week at work, where I experienced what could have been an attack of post-traumatic stress disorder on Friday. The illness, whatever it is – whether it be PTSD, social phobia, depression or alcoholism – most definitely can flare up in difficult situations and become a fire inside me, burning me up. The sick part of me, though different from the part that wants to get well, is no less intelligent than the rest of me, and it can disguise its sick agendas with all kinds of clever excuses for carrying on in sick ways. It will tell me that the anger is justified, that my flatmates deserve to be ignored, that my work colleagues deserve to be treated like idiots, that people on the street deserve to be bumped into and sneered at. Yet all the time, secretly and quietly, I am going through hell. I’m intelligent and I know what I’m doing to myself, but I can’t stop it, I can’t stop feeding the sickness. Why? Am I scared to let go of the anger, is that it?
It may sound odd, asking questions of myself like this as if I’m two people having a conversation. Sometimes I think I am literally two people. I seem to remember reading once that all emotional pain is born in the split between the old, good part of our natures and the more recently developed narcissistic part. When we decided to start standing on two feet and shifted ourselves away from the animal kingdom we became narcissists, but we never quite left behind the fundamental, simple goodness of animals. I can’t remember where I read that, it may have been Eckhart Tolle. Just remembering it in my mind has calmed me a little tonight. Though I’m quite sure that the darkness will come back soon, and I don’t know how many more times I can fight it.