Last week I did something unforgivable. I talked about politics in my therapy session. Before I started I vowed I would never pollute this safe space with such a sordid subject, but there I was, ranting about the Conservatives and lying politicians because it was clinging to my thoughts more firmly than usual. We had started the session by picking up on the theme of honesty and authenticity, something I know my life has severely lacked. I mentioned the betrayal I’ve felt this year at the people closest to me, all of whom have indirectly caused what I see as society’s biggest problem; the fact I can’t have an honest conversation with any of them about it. And then I was off. My country is wilfully self harming, the people around me seem to think it’s perfectly all right, and I feel sick not just talking about it, but thinking about it. I suppose it’s a good thing I could say all of this to another human being last week, but I didn’t exactly feel great after the session, just deflated. Maybe the benefits are yet to show themselves.
The other night I caught a documentary in which the famous artist Grayson Perry brought together a bunch of “leavers” with a bunch of “remainers” to try and encourage dialogue and understanding. He had produced several works of art on the embittering subject of Brexit, with the lofty hopes of discourse and reconciliation in mind. I watched enthralled, despite a very real aversion to giving any more of my time to this topic; I wondered if the people interviewed would learn anything or change their minds. After an hour of hearing asperity in the voices on both sides, the last five minutes when they all came together in the art gallery were surprisingly heartening. Here both sides saw in the works of art that Perry had produced how much more they had in common, than what separated them. For a while I felt warmth and forgiveness towards my fellow Brits, as I contemplated the love I have for my country which is ultimately the same as the love those “leavers” have.
I was close to having a great week, before I started hearing once again about the impending general election and all the divisiveness that’s going with it. It seems every time a member of our government speaks now another lie comes out. And I can’t ignore how pleased they all look about it – how comfortable they are knowing that no opposition can touch them.
I spent the weekend with P up north, a trip we had planned ages ago. We’ve been getting on well this year, and after the Grayson Perry documentary I ought to have been full of understanding and acceptance towards him. But spending more than a few hours with him always seems to bring out the worst of my resentment. We were talking about the many holidays he still has planned for the rest of the year, and he had it in his head that if I’d just try a bit harder to save money, I could go with him to fabulous places such as Spain and Italy later in the summer. This even though I’ve told him many times that I can’t afford any more holidays apart from the one we have booked to France in September. I am trying to live more frugally these days because I appreciate how it will benefit me in the long run, and going on holiday every month is no longer a priority for me. We’ve talked about this so often, it got to me when instead of enjoying where we were, he spent half the time looking online for bargains and discounts on my behalf. A conversation that kept coming up concerned air miles, how if I started using them I could enjoy lots of free future holidays. All I have to do is sign up for a credit card and buy things I don’t need, and it will be great! I can spend more money on holidays I don’t need, and have more wasted time with P into the bargain!
P has been obsessed with collecting air miles since I’ve known him, but it rankles especially at the moment when he half lectures me about it, conveniently forgetting all the times I’ve explained to him why I’m not interested. In particular I wish he wouldn’t forget the reason why holidays and living in general are getting ever more expensive, thanks to his beloved government and their pig headedness. But he does keep forgetting, because I can never remind him, because if I did it would end our friendship and then I’d have no other friends to do those things with.
“What if you were honest with P and it didn’t end the friendship, but instead made it stronger?” My therapist asks. I have to think about the answer to this, carefully. Deep down I think I want the friendship to end, I’ve wanted it for a long time, but I’m stuck with it because there’s no one else as loyal to me, no one else who cares or knows me as well as P. It makes me sad considering how far we’ve grown apart and how utterly unmatched we are now, but what can I do? I’ve faced this dilemma for two years now with no obvious solution.
I think I need another break from P.
Tuesday I had my debut in the spotlight at the newcomer meeting: my first time as co-secretary. Arriving back from the north that afternoon I was predictably nervous about predictable things (Would the group accept me? Would I get it right? Or would I fuck it all up and end up shunned by them again?) Each step I took to the meeting was reluctant. Somehow I got there and got through it. All I had to do was read out a script and introduce the chair. I spent a lot of unnecessary time comparing myself to the meeting’s previous secretary R, who always did this with such natural charm and poise. By the end I had to accept that I’ll never be like R, that the secretary doesn’t need to be the star of the meeting. And the group already accepted me by voting for me last week.
Work’s been fine recently. Having settled into my new hours I guess there’s nothing much to complain about any more. I got the setup I always wanted. Being there three days instead of five means that those three days are a lot busier than five in a week used to be. We have a new member in the team, adding a different dynamic to things. She’s talkative and likes a joke – probably just what we needed. Me, A and P: the serious three.
P was in one of her moods today and it was initially disappointing after such a good run of relations. Eventually I remembered I could just leave her to it, it’s nothing to do with me. She’s leaving soon, apparently, so I won’t have to worry about it much longer.