People obsessed 2

When it’s a bad day I forget that other people exist and I fall into the trap of thinking I’m the only one who ever experiences such things. This new voice of logic that has taken hold in recent years tells me there must be so many other people out there having a bad day at the same time as me – even in the bank itself. But it hasn’t taken hold enough to make me believe in my heart that I’m not alone. That it really isn’t a bad day, and I can get through the minute or hour in which difficult feelings are occurring and come through the other side. The same old script runs on a loop, trying to drown out the voice of logic, which I don’t yet trust as much as I trust the traditional script.

The fact that it was Thursday, one day away from the weekend, didn’t have much on an impact on me today. Feelings weighed on me as much as they did before. I try and spot others in the office around me who might be a bit shy, like me; I think it might give me some comfort in the loneliness. I think I’ve spotted two or three of them, only to be disappointed after a while when I observe them approach others or be approached for spontaneous chatter. One of life’s incontrovertible rules is that people will never conform to my expectations. Someone who might seem shy or withdrawn can turn around and laugh at a joke cracked nearby. Someone who may appear outgoing can spend a day or two in enforced solitude while the rest of us barely notice. I latch onto the ones who look shy and I become envious when they effortlessly leave character to have a normal conversation with someone. It shows them doing better than me in the social game.

Their talking to others doesn’t actually mean they’re doing better than me. It’s the same conflict between logic and instinct as before. Logic says they can still find the office environment difficult, in spite of surface appearances; instinct says that if I can’t see them struggling then I was wrong about their shyness and they are not like me after all. They’re part of the rest of the human race while I’m left alone in my own category. Not being able to read people’s minds is the problem here. You can only ever see the veneer; what’s going on underneath remains a lifelong mystery, especially in an office where there seems to be an unspoken rule about appearances being all important.

My brewing resentment against the three people in the office who never talk to me despite the fact they sit behind me every day continues to deepen. With the passing days I find it harder to accept that T, M and J could be nice people who just haven’t found the courage to approach me yet. All I see is the normal front that they present in the office, which would suggest they’re confident friendly people who’d talk to me if they just didn’t dislike me so much. I don’t see what they’re really thinking about me, I don’t see the human struggles they may be going through internally. I only see them being loud and familiar with everyone around me, so that their continued ignorance of my presence begins to seem increasingly deliberate.

M, for instance, doesn’t seem like someone that could be shy with anyone. Most of the time he’s this jokingly obnoxious character, a macho lad with a repertoire of loving insults for his friends. I don’t like the fact that he’s never even looked at me, let alone said hello; he’s become this monster in my head, and I blame him fully for the impasse that we’ve reached with each other. The blaming of course doesn’t take into account that he may have the very same thoughts about me, that he may have come to see me as rude and icy. Round and round in circles I go with the obsession, waiting for him to say or do something, passing through each day with a greater sense of disappointment at the lack of action. I’m fed up of going round in mental circles; fed up of feeling like the clueless newbie who can’t figure people out.

More than anything I want to walk into the office like one of them, take my seat like I belong there and smile or talk to someone near me without reservation. I know I could do it, anyone could – it’s not physically impossible. But I also know that it will never happen because it would feel like committing suicide. I’d be killing the doubting, fearful person that’s dominated my life; essentially I’d be killing my identity. Being shy, waiting for others to approach, is who I am, who I’ve always been. Until the past few years I never had to question it. More and more I am coming up against it in daily life, and it’s like I’ve reached a wall. I want to believe that God and faith and trust can take me over that wall, since it has taken me over many walls before in recovery. After nine years on this journey this barrier between me and the world remains, and each day I am being made to face it, I feel I will keep being made to face it until something snaps. I’ll either run away, give in; or I’ll climb over it. What I believe is going to happen just reflects the duality that has marked much of my thinking recently: on one side I know I can’t face this fear, on another side at the same time, I know I can. I just don’t know which side I’m going to choose.


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