If I’m worrying about people possibly not liking me at work, maybe I should be grateful for those people. No, hear me out. It occurred to me yesterday or the day before, that being forced to endure the presence of these people five days a week is showing me what I can cope with. Somewhere along the way, some wisdom from AA must have sunk in because this is the kind of thing you normally hear and scoff at in meetings. What? Grateful for being exposed to waves of unpleasant indifference at work forty hours a week? Well, gratitude probably beats toxic resentment. Feeling truly grateful isn’t something that comes naturally to me. In fact, the suggestion of it still seems really strange. I know I can’t afford to slip into workplace resentments again for the next three years – I have to deal with this in some other way now.
Spiritual teachings point me towards gratitude and acceptance. If I want to get through the next however many months in this job, I may need to welcome the daily fear that it brings up and tell myself I’m grateful for it. Years of resentment and resistance in another job have implanted in me a visceral certainty that there is little else I can do. I need to start my days by saying I am grateful to be working with people who know how to bring out my insecurities without even knowing that they’re doing it. I won’t really feel grateful for a long time, if ever; but I’ll need to keep saying it anyway, until it drowns out the hateful negative thoughts. I can put it out there that I’m really glad it’s the start of another working week, therefore another big opportunity to work on my problems and get better. All the time my disease may be thinking it’s a load of crap, why am I bothering; but if I believe that I need to be living a different way now then I probably ought to carry on with the gratitude regardless. It’s not as if I haven’t heard about the benefits of gratitude in nearly every AA meeting I’ve ever been to.
I saw P today. I felt I had to see him – after seven weeks of successfully avoiding him the time had come when I couldn’t keep using the excuse that I’m busy. Not with someone who knows me so well, anyway. I’m still contracted to go on this holiday in July with him, until which time I can’t make the final break with him because it would kill the holiday that he’s been looking forward to all year.
Today I felt a bit like an unfaithful spouse going to see a partner who doesn’t know I’ve been having an affair. For months I have been telling my sponsor all about how P and I have grown apart, how unhappy I tend to feel in his company now, and so on. The person who should be hearing these things, P, still doesn’t have a clue I’ve been feeling this way. Instinct told me that today wasn’t the time to start giving hints. The truth is I still don’t know how to explain all this to him: we’ve never had this kind of conversation before. If I thought that he was on my level enough to understand what’s going on, I probably wouldn’t be drifting apart from him.
We went for a cheap meal in town before sitting in the park for an hour in slightly less hot sunshine than what we had last weekend. Things were civil enough between us. It was the first time I’d seen him since starting work at the bank, so naturally he wanted to know how the job was going. I nearly lied and said it was going well, but I realised that would have felt ridiculous. So I was honest about the struggles I’d had and how I am already thinking to my next career move. Before I would have asked him for his opinion and advice; today I didn’t. He can’t give advice on this situation – he thinks companies like my employer are brilliant.
Throughout our two hours together I couldn’t help feeling like it was a waste of time being there, considering I wasn’t interested in anything that he had to say, and I couldn’t tell the truth about it. He mentioned some of his plans for the summer, including a garden party that he wants to host on the next bank holiday weekend. I showed no enthusiasm for the idea, gave no response to indicate that I would come. What would be the point? He’ll invite people like J, another right wing capitalist who recently asked on facebook why we should accept any more Syrian migrant children in when there are more needy kids of native descent already here. P talked about his burgeoning friendship with J, how they’ve been dancing together in clubs and pubs recently to pass the time. Completely oblivious to the nasty views that J holds – I don’t think he saw that facebook post. Unfortunately I did, and I unfriended J straight away. Why would I want to be linked with someone who thinks like that? I had to hold my tongue today when P was extolling J’s virtues as a friend and dance partner. I didn’t want to have an argument. I could only silently fume at P’s obliviousness and lack of insight, his refusal to see what’s in front of him. I mean, how does he not see that we have nothing left to say to each other?
They say true friends can sit comfortably together in silence. Well, today’s silence between us wasn’t comfortable. By 3 o’clock we were both looking at our watches, wondering when it would end. Thankfully P had to go somewhere then, and I could leave feeling I’d done my duty for the day. I probably won’t see him again until July, unless there’s a real need in the meantime, which I doubt there will be. I want to feel bad about how this has turned out; in fact I probably feel bad for not feeling bad about it. Oh, the irony.
In all of this I don’t claim to be some innocent, wronged party. I know I haven’t been a perfect friend to P this year. I regret the bitching and moaning I’ve done without giving him any chance to respond. I’ve been caught between a rock and a hard place – I simply can’t have that conversation with him until we’ve been on this holiday. Until then, I may keep letting criticisms slip out in my writing that he’ll never be able to defend himself against. I’m human. When you’re tired of someone you’re tired of them.
Later this afternoon I met my sponsor at the meeting and we went for a lovely coffee and chat afterwards. He wanted to know how it had gone with P and I poured it all out. That’s where my life is now: in AA, talking to people who get that friendships end, people grow and change. It’s the only place where I get the honesty that I need. Sorry.