I went to the meeting on Friday and faced the music. Whenever I’m anxious about the way something’s going to turn out in life, it never turns out that way. So Friday proved to be the case. It wasn’t so bad. I managed to share, say hello to a couple of people, let them know what I’d been struggling with for the past few days. But by the end of the meeting I still felt like I’d failed, because I hadn’t made up with L. I tried to leave without saying goodbye to anybody, but I couldn’t get away without being accosted by P, a newcomer that I’ve got to know in recent months who is good at telling when something’s up with one of his friends. He asked if I was all right in a tone that indicated he knew I was not all right. All I could say was that the room was very hot and I needed to get some fresh air. Which was partly true, but the second I was out of the building I’d run off before we could continue our chat.
I wish I hadn’t done that. I wish I could get to a stage in my life where I didn’t do that to people any more, where it wouldn’t even cross my mind. It’s a strange state to be in: wanting people to notice my pain at the same time as wanting them to leave me alone. I was happy that P noticed me and cared enough to ask how I was doing, but I couldn’t share the truth with him in case it made me vulnerable. My old alcoholic instincts wouldn’t let me.
One thing I desperately needed was a good night’s sleep. I managed to get that on Friday, so that by Saturday I was feeling relatively normal again. It was much easier to smile and be myself when I got to the meeting that evening. Thus it’s disconcerting how much mood can still affect my behaviour. While I was in that mood on Friday I knew it would pass eventually, that I still had it in me somewhere to be open and sociable with people, but the knowledge wasn’t enough to stop me acting out on the feeling. The feeling still dominates.
On Saturday I shared for a good five minutes about what had happened, and I could tell people understood. After the meeting we went for the usual coffee, which was nice as I hadn’t been for a few weeks. It was the same group that I’ve been going for coffee with on Saturdays all year. They’re probably the people that know me the best in AA apart from my sponsor. I feel safe with them – luckily that business with R earlier in the year is forgotten about. I wish I had a group like that in every meeting but it hasn’t happened yet. When I’m in one of my moods I can latch onto the fact that I still don’t feel safe in meetings all the time, and there’s a constant danger of me drifting to the edge of things because of it.
I only have to log onto facebook to see the latest holiday or party that sober friends have been invited to, things that I’m never involved in. Despite all the knowledge I have about how these things happen, why it shouldn’t be important enough to affect my sobriety, I can still look at these photos and think: why wasn’t I included? It’s the same old thing that I went through at school and university countless times. Other people will always do things that don’t always involve me. I still have such a strong inclination to see it as my failure somehow, to believe that I’m not doing well enough in life because I’ve never gone on a holiday with sober friends to Spain before. When I let things like that build up in my head and drive me away from meetings I end up unhappy, isolated and even more lonely than I was before. But the negativity remains so attractive, because it allows me to avoid doing any hard work to change my circumstances.
As always, I have a choice. I can wallow in resentment and self pity or I can carry on with my program regardless. I know which would be the better choice for me now, I just have to make it.
I felt better at last night’s meeting, where you find the same crowd as the Saturday meeting. I shared everything again and got it all out there, because I knew I had to. At the end, L came up to me out of the blue and said that he feels awkward when he sees people in the street sometimes too, and doesn’t always know whether to say ‘hello’ or not. I guess that’s as much of a reconciliation as we’re ever going to manage. At least my suspicions were confirmed that he feels the same awkwardness as me, and it’s not just a case of him hating me.
I should hear from the charity in the next couple of days whether I’ve passed their health screening or not. Everyone I’ve spoken to has reassured me that it will just turn out to be a formality and they have no right to revoke my job offer based on a health questionnaire. That said I won’t be fully confident again until they’ve confirmed that I’ve passed the screening. So I still have some anxiety about that, which I need to accept powerlessness over. There’s no point in getting sucked into a hole again and ruining my day.