I’m supposed to be at work right now. Or rather, I’m supposed to be doing some charity event with work right now. I’m not there, I’m at home instead because I couldn’t face it. In the end, faced with that choice between running away and facing a day of forced socialising with workmates, I chose to run. For most of the week, I wasn’t panicking as much about it as predicted. It was a relatively busy week and I had plenty of things to keep my mind off it. Last night, I felt normal enough to believe that I actually might be able to go through with today. The script telling me that my workmates aren’t all that bad to spend a day out of the office with seemed to be winning out.
When it got to this morning I wasn’t feeling so confident. On waking I experienced some of the most difficult moments I’ve had to endure in years. After agonizing over whether to be brave or run for what seemed like hours, I messaged them to say I was ill and couldn’t go. So I was doing it again: avoiding, running away when I should have been facing my responsibilities. I can justify my absence by telling them I’m ill, whilst telling myself that I shouldn’t have to go to these stupid things anyway. I can have arguments in my head about how one person not being there isn’t going to make a difference. The chances are no one will notice my absence today, or if they do, no one will care. It’s the fact that I’m being dishonest that gets to me. I hate lying – I vowed to stop doing it the day I gave up alcohol. I had no doubt then that it hadn’t served me well in my life, yet here I am doing it again, picking up an old habit like an ex-smoker picking up a cigarette.
I didn’t need to lie today, but the other option simply terrified me so much I literally shake to think about it. The last eight hours have been very long, and to think that if I’d gone today I’d still be there now, forcing smiles and words that mean nothing out of my mouth, it’s unbearable to imagine. I’ve tried to picture what advice AA would give me – what a really good sponsor would say – and I can’t come up with anything. I am not built to work in a company full of extroverts. I don’t have the strength to pretend that I’m one of them any more. Every day I’m still in this job, is another day where I have to put on a mask in the morning and ensure it doesn’t slip for the next eight hours.
Recently it’s been very hard to keep the mask from slipping, which is why my relationships with remaining teammates have undoubtedly suffered. The scariest thing of all is that I don’t exactly know who I would be, if I was always just being myself. This year I’ve been playing the part of the office misanthrope, but I don’t think that’s me either. Days like today really make me question if I’m a bad person, but in the rare moments when I manage to find some perspective I don’t think I’m bad, I think I’m just in the wrong fucking job.