Starting again

On Monday I finally got word back from the charity that I had passed their health screening, so my start date of the 26th could be confirmed. I was relieved of course, and through the week I haven’t felt much in the way of nerves around starting in another new role. I’m looking forward to finding out what it’s going to be like. I’ve received a few emails from my new line manager K, outlining some of the training that will be involved in the first week. It seems like there will be a lot of IT systems to get set up on. The good thing is I’ve already used some of them before, at the bank, so I’m not expecting the IT side of things to be a challenge. K also sent me a detailed list of responsibilities for my role, and it sounds like a lot! On paper it looks like I will be a mixture of receptionist, office manager and admin assistant, and I don’t know if there will be other people doing the same role as me or if I’ll be the only one. In my mind I have the usual questions about whether I’ll be good at it all, and whether I’ll get on with the team around me. It’s quite a big change from what I’ve done before, and though I’m sure I’ll get used to it soon enough, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t just want to get the induction period over with, to know for sure.

The day before I started at the bank I was ten times as apprehensive as I am at the moment, which I’m taking as a good sign!

A few weeks ago P told me that he had a spare ticket to a foreign homes show in Birmingham this weekend, and on the spur of the moment I decided to go with him. In keeping with my recent habit of taking off for weekends in various parts of the UK, I was happy to book myself into a nice hotel in Birmingham on the weekend before the start of my new job. It would be a different hotel to the one P was staying in, and we would only be going to the homes show together – so it wasn’t going to be like going on holiday with him.

I don’t think I’m ever going to buy home abroad, but one can dream. There’d be a number of talks given by experts on how to buy property abroad, how to pay taxes abroad, how to set up a business abroad, and how Brexit will affect everything. There would also be loads of foreign estate agents at their own stalls, showing off dream properties in France and Spain for us to ogle at. The event was amazingly busy when we got there yesterday, and we had quite an interesting day, listening to some of the talks as well as admiring the properties being advertised. I came away with a bit more knowledge than what I had before regarding how to go about moving to Europe. Who knows, if I manage to be good and save a small fortune in the next thirty years, maybe it could happen.

Away from the event in the evening, P and I enjoyed a nice dinner in a Polish restaurant in the centre of the city. The food was delicious, and as I hadn’t seen much of P in recent weeks we were getting on pretty well, until he wanted to take a picture of our food and attach it to a facebook check in. He has to do this every time we eat in a restaurant. The last few times I’ve questioned him about it, he’s hardly known what to say. I decided to press him on it again yesterday, and he got a bit annoyed but he still couldn’t tell me the real reason for it, which is that he wants people to validate his existence on facebook with likes and comments. Numerous of his well to do friends regularly post pictures of food on facebook and get loads of likes for it; P wants a part of that.

Later on, unfortunately our conversation strayed onto the subject of politics, and although I knew I ought to try and steer it back as quickly as possible, I didn’t. It arose from Brexit, which we’d watched a talk on earlier that day at the show. I expressed the opinion that the government has fucked my generation over, what with Brexit and the impossibility of ever being able to buy a home here, and P did his usual thing of replying with “yeah, but…” to everything I said. His whole argument is the most frustrating anyone could possibly have: he agrees that things are bad but he doesn’t see what can be done about it. As far as he’s concerned, things like the housing crisis, poverty, the great inequality in our society just have to be accepted. When I suggested that perhaps the government could tax the rich a bit more and spend a bit less on nuclear weapons that we’ll never use, he said it wouldn’t make much difference doing that, so there’s no point.

I’ve known for years that it’s pointless having this conversation with P. He’ll never change his mind. He has had a comfortable life and he probably learnt from an early age to instinctively trust the status quo. Whenever I think about it it makes me so angry – but I can’t just end this friendship. In spite of all his many faults, P has been my truest friend for eleven years, and he accepts me completely as I am. A few months ago I thought I could gradually phase him out of my life, but it hasn’t worked. After all this time I don’t know how I can push someone away who is so loyal to me. Going back through my life story has reminded me of just how many people I did that to over the years. All the lost friendships and relationships were lost through my actions, and it took a toll on me. I feel furious whenever I remember P’s political views and his facebook habits, but I have no idea how to live without him.

*****

On Friday we had the first session in the ten week intro to counselling course that I’ll be taking. Funny I should be starting that at the same time as the new job. I had a good feeling when I went into the college on Friday morning. It’s in a bright, modern building with well looked after facilities. The group I’m taking the course with is surprisingly large at just under twenty, mostly women. I’d hoped for a smaller group as large groups are always harder to shine in socially. I knew there’d be a lot of talking involved and I got the same nerves about it there as I’d get in an AA meeting before sharing.

It’s a nice group, and I found the content of the course that was laid out before us interesting. The tutor will be sticking to the person-centred approach, which is fine by me. I’m looking forward to the learning, and to the small group role plays that we’ll be having. It’s mainly the big group activities that I’m anxious about at this point. At the beginning and end of each session we’re expected to go round and say a little bit about how we’re feeling. And during the session after each role play / small group exercise we usually have to come back to the big group to share our thoughts. When everyone else is trying to get in to speak, it’s impossible for me to feel confident about opening my mouth and speaking up. Just like in a busy AA meeting. I’m aware that as this is coming up I know it will be something I need to look at if I pursue a career in counselling. I might need to look at it during the course of the next ten weeks. I’d already identified before that I want to work on my confidence about using my voice, or lack thereof. At the moment I’m more aware than ever that I’m stuck in this area. Recently it’s been especially clear in meetings where I’ve not been able to speak to people or share. It seems the more aware of it I am, the harder it is to work on. It’s like the disease is fighting back.

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