I’m not ok (but it’s ok)

Guess what. I didn’t enjoy today. Returning to work was as painful as it ever is after a Christmas holiday that’s been too short and sweet to be satisfying. I hadn’t helped my cause by retiring to bed far too late last night, well after midnight, because I wanted to finish the Stephen King book I was reading. So I was tired and grumpy this morning, never a great combination. The ingredients for a bad day were so abundant from the start it was almost a joke. I didn’t have to attempt positive thinking to snap myself out of it, there was no point trying.

In the past when I’ve returned to work after the holidays, the dread has mostly stemmed from the sure expectation that tasks will have built up so much in my absence, the first week of the year will be a nightmare trying to get through everything. Today it was quite the opposite – I was prepared for the irony of not having enough to do on the first day of the year, and I wasn’t disappointed. The feeling of not being busy enough has bugged me since I started this job. The role I was recruited for was too vague, not enough people in the organisation have realised that I exist quick enough, and so there are regularly times like today when I have to fill my own task list with anything that vaguely looks like work. I tried really hard and I found a few corners of the office that needed tidying, a few emails that needed sending, but I was still left with hours of time to think. And think, and think, and think…

A predictable poisonous mixture of thoughts swirled in my head throughout the day; here’s the general gist: “P doesn’t like me, it’s so obvious with how quiet she’s being today; she didn’t even wish me a happy new year this morning. I get on with everyone else ok, why can’t I make her like me? Oh but it shouldn’t matter, how many times have I been through this before, do I really need to go through it again? There could be so many reasons why she’s quiet with me today, it isn’t necessarily about me. But it has to be about me!” A was away today so P and I were on our own in the office, and as the hours went on, the distance between us weighed on me more and more.

There’s no use trying to reason my way out of those feelings, I’ve already tried that for years. Telling myself things like “it doesn’t matter” will never work because it’s logic, whereas the feelings are coming from a place of emotion. Childish, hurt, scared emotion. After years of trying to come up with another way of answering the feelings I don’t exactly know the answer yet, but I think sometimes it can help to spot the fallacies in the thinking. If I remember that P’s apparent coldness could just be a reflection of my own towards her (I made no effort to be nice or wish her a happy new year this morning), it seems to trip the childish stream of thoughts up and nudge me back into the present.

Of course there is the possibility that P just doesn’t like me. Without knowing the truth, I have to assume both possibilities are as likely as each other. She could be having a bad day, my cold vibes could be projecting on to her – or she doesn’t like me. Random chance will dictate the way of things on any given day, not some malevolent supernatural force in the universe hell bent on making everyone dislike me.

So even though today was far from enjoyable, I got something positive from it. I can see myself going through fearful experiences and still feeling ok, more and more. It’s weird and unnatural to think that that’s what’s happening, but I’m daring to hope that it is.

*****

I felt the same way about going to tonight’s meeting as I did about going to work this morning, which is a shame. I was exhausted from lack of sleep, for which I only had myself to blame, and the last thing I wanted to do was go and smile as I handed out sobriety chips. I’ve often felt that way about the commitment during the past year, and I keep pushing myself to do it in the hope that the act of freely offering my service will bring good karma my way. It was a frosty evening, and I was so cold when I got to the meeting I could hardly talk to anyone. I sat anonymously in my usual spot and waited for the meeting to start. Being a newcomer’s meeting, the sharing is usually quite positive, and it was especially so tonight. The chair couldn’t have oozed more gratitude if he’d wanted to. Despite the tentacles of alcoholism that were creeping over me, urging me to withdraw and isolate, I found myself smiling and thawing out during the course of his story. Something different to what usually happens when I’m in that mood was happening.

After the meeting I smiled and briefly chatted to quite a lot of people. The night was almost a great success. In spite of not wanting to be there, I managed to be there anyway. To be present – to be open and warm – I’d done all that whilst feeling the same old feelings that have sent me off the track in the past.

I nearly put the icing on the cake by going into the kitchen where C was washing up the plates and the cups from the meeting, giving him a hug and saying how much I enjoyed New Year’s Eve. He doesn’t know it but I was at the party on Saturday because of his encouragement in that facebook message last week. I nearly, almost reached out tonight and blew my natural isolating instincts out of the water. But I couldn’t, because someone got in and started talking to him before I could. So I went home without saying a word to him.

There will be other opportunities. But the trouble is I don’t know when they’ll come – and when I had the perfect opportunity tonight I didn’t do everything I could to take it. I suppose it’s good that I know there was an opportunity, and that I was almost ready to go over there and be a real human being with him. Well, regret won’t do anything for me so I’ll have to let it go. Hopefully next time will go better.

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