Happiness is still an option

Days like today make it hard not to think I made a mistake in accepting this job. I can’t think of a moment that’s yet occurred when I have enjoyed it. There’ve been some moments when I’ve thought it might be all right; too many moments when I’ve wanted to give in and quit.

My boss informed me this morning that I keep making mistakes with entering the customer forms onto the system and I need to stop. For the rest of the week she’ll be checking everything I do. If I don’t make any more mistakes then she’ll stop checking next week. She didn’t share this information in a patronising or insulting way, it was a simple matter of fact conversation about a problem that understandably needs to be addressed. But when she said “it’s silly mistakes that keep happening” I felt the dent in my ego keenly. It was disappointing and embarrassing to learn I still wasn’t doing things right. I’m supposed to be a clever guy, I’ve done much harder and more complex things than this before. Coupled with all the other things I’ve got to worry about in the job, it wasn’t good to think about. The rest of the day was doomed to be pretty depressing.

The fact of the matter is: I wasn’t shown how to do the forms properly in the beginning. But, and this is key, I knew about that for the past few weeks and still I ploughed ahead with them regardless, making tons of mistakes along the way, instead of bringing up the questions I still had. I played a part in this sorry mess and it stings. Since I found out my work was to be monitored I have spent hours in paranoia, hearing my name come up several dozen times in J and B’s whispered conversations nearby. Surely they can’t have been talking about me all day, but that’s what happens when you think the world is out to get you. Despite knowing it’s ridiculous I’ve allowed a resentment against them to brew. How great it is for them to sit there in their perfection, never having made any mistakes of course, judging me for mine. How very nice it must be for them to have someone to bitch about.

I’m supposed to have stopped comparing the present ordeal to my journey at the last company, but what the hell, it’s all I can think about. Yes it was exactly the same there when I started – the script, the lines, the stage directions were all virtually the same. I hated it every day for ages, thought I was never going to last. Knowing how it all turned out should be making today easier but instead it’s making it worse. I’m impatiently waiting for the same miracle to happen here and it’s not and I’m going crazy.

It was hard to focus much today, or appear as if I was happy to be at work. People around me must have noticed the permanent frown on my face. I had so many days like that at the last place where I allowed the inner rage to show; somehow it was always all right, people could understand, though I didn’t know it in the beginning. But I don’t want to behave like that any more in the new job, I want to make a better impression, and it seems like I’m failing. That depressed me today but I didn’t have the energy to snap out of it and crack a smile, even for a second. My voices kept telling me: these people must all think I’m a pointless joke. It’s so, so difficult to get away from that thinking when no one goes out of their way to prove me wrong. No, I don’t seriously expect strangers in an office to tell me that they think I’m all right, but my disease wants the proof, otherwise I’m stuck in the belief.

I can try and meditate and get some perspective on the situation, but in a busy office with many distractions where we’re not allowed to put headphones in and escape, doing anything spiritual is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s virtually impossible to get away from the noise.

I came away from today questioning whether it’s really worth all the stress. I can leave – if I do, I still have my savings to support me for a good few months. Maybe this job won’t be worth the stress in the long run, but the problem I have is that I’ve been in AA too long, and I know that I can’t just run when I’m having a bad day. I need to think through my decisions and give things time. At the moment, the only reason I really want to leave is that I think people don’t like me. If we’re being realistic, that reason doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. If I left every situation where I think people might not like me, I’d never do anything.

*****

P emailed me this morning, to suggest a night out next week seeing a concert. The invitation was too enthusiastic for my liking and not what I wanted in my inbox this morning. I probably should have known today would not be the best day to reply. But when lunch time came, I couldn’t stop myself from sending him a blunt explanation of why I want to take a break from our friendship and why I’m not interested in these nights out any more. There’s no nice way of saying such things in an email, and I did come to regret it later on, but I had to accept that, well, what’s done is done. The cat’s out of the bag now. P’s response came in the evening and happily it was magnanimous: he understands and looks forward to seeing me for the holiday in July, if not before. He’s bound to be upset tonight, I wish he wasn’t, but at the same time, I can’t believe he didn’t see it coming.

Christ, I needed a meeting tonight. When I got there I was reminded of things like gratitude and friendship and serenity. A few people mentioned gratitude lists in the sharing, and although I have as little desire to write a gratitude list tonight as I ever did, I’m willing to express gratitude for these things:

  • having a job and a safe, warm roof over my head
  • having AA friends and a good sponsor
  • being challenged and shown what I can cope with

I suspect that there isn’t much more to living a sober life than doing those suggested things: writing gratitude lists, sharing, being honest. I’ve always been told that the suggestions are the key, but I’ve never exactly believed it. Today I recognise I will rarely be given direct answers to my problems, but I can still feel better just by putting them out there and hoping for the best. It doesn’t matter when I don’t get the instant answers I need in a meeting, when I come away feeling normal and like myself at the end. Tonight was no exception to that. I could breathe, feel like myself again.

Urgh I want to cry at the thought of going back to that office tomorrow. Well, I don’t imagine that staying at the bank for many years is going to make my dreams come true. After today, I think I have to keep the option of resigning open for the near future. I can’t leave today – fairness and contracts dictate that I have to give notice, and for the sake of my future job prospects I’d like to say I gave it at least six months. No, those next few months are not going to be a walk in the park but they will be better than today if I choose them to be. They always say you can choose to have a good day if you put your mind to it, don’t they?

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