Sunday 21st September

J had a rare day off so we decided to go on a drive out to the country. We ended up at a small family zoo in the middle of nowhere that J somehow heard about and wanted to visit for ages. We were expecting to see lots of majestic creatures, but instead we saw a few cockatiels, rabbits, lizards and one beaver. It was more of a kid’s zoo, which I didn’t mind because some of the animals were quite cute, but J found a million things to complain about that I wouldn’t hear the end of all day. He wanted a world of lions and tigers and nothing else. As we were leaving the place he was rude to the staff, and once in the car he sped off, nearly knocking several families over, he was so determined to get away.

I felt trapped with him at that point and I couldn’t wait to get home and away from him. After a full night and morning with him I knew that this was not turning into a happy relationship. I could hardly remember why it was I liked him so much in the beginning. I’ve heard it said the ones who annoy you most are the ones you care about the most, and I suppose it’s true in the case of my mum and my closest friends – but with them I can accept their annoying habits because it’s just one part of them as a whole, it’s not the only thing about them. With J, the annoying bits have become so overpowering I’ve come to dread seeing him again.

It’s not just the constant complaining and bitching about others, it’s all the crap he talks all the time. He has these conspiracy theories that he got from the internet, I’m sure he doesn’t really understand them properly. It makes me question what I’m really getting out of this relationship. For a few months the sex was quite nice, but I’m even finding that quite boring now. He gets tired so easily – and I’m not saying I’m an animal in bed because I get tired too. We both get so tired after half an hour of mild foreplay it’s almost not worth taking our clothes off.

I’d feel horrible dumping him now, so I don’t know what to do. If I was to dump him I couldn’t just do it by instant message like a teenager would, we’d have to sit down face to face and I can’t bear the thought of it. Hence I am trapped once again by my own inability to take action. This is how you lose control of your life, by allowing yourself to get stuck in situations you don’t like through your own politeness. If I could give advice to anyone young and clueless about these things, it would be to stay away from relationships that you haven’t chosen. Do the choosing, then you might just be in with a chance of feeling OK about yourself.

Another way I’m trapped is in my own home. I’ve realised that I don’t get on with the landlord any more, and I would like to leave this flat, but I know it would upset him so I can’t bear to make the break. Instead of doing anything useful I’m allowing a mighty resentment to build in me. It builds on all the small things, like it did the other day when he asked me if I’d seen a missing pair of sunglasses, and I could tell in his tone that he expected me to know where they were. Ever since then I’ve sensed an awkwardness in the air which is just perfect because I feel exactly the way I did in 2003, when I lived in a place with people that made me want to slit my wrists.

If you want to know what I’m doing to make these situations better, it’s nothing. I only know how to sit in my room and let things fester, I’ve never done it any other way. This is who I am. When I was talking the other day about how much progress I’ve been making thanks to the swimming and the gym going, I was only telling part of the story. That makes me hate myself, the fact after all these years of fucking trying I still haven’t managed to write one line that tells the full story, that isn’t hiding or missing something out.

I think the only really good thing about redundancy, if I get it, is that it will give me a good excuse to run away from all these situations. I’ll be able to tell J and the landlord I’m taking my money and my professional skills and I’m moving to Europe. If I get the customer experience job, I’ll have to stay here and face things. I think last week I was really pinning my hopes on redundancy as I thought it would be the only way I could leave London. This week I’m reminded that I can leave London whenever I want, whether I’m working here or not. I don’t have to stay in this flat forever just because I’m working in London, that’s for sure. But without the big excuse of being made redundant to back me up, I don’t know what I would tell the landlord. If I say to him “I’m not happy here,” he’ll want to know why, and I’ll have to spend hours explaining it to him, justifying myself until I’m so tired of arguing about it I’ll be ready to give in and stay.

It’s easy to say why I’m not happy on paper: I don’t like the rules about not being able to leave anything on show in the kitchen or bathroom; I don’t like how small it is, and I’m bored of the area. Actually saying those things to his face would terrify me because we don’t have an honest relationship. Whenever I see him I’m basically keeping him happy by pretending everything’s fine here. He always says I should tell him if there’s a problem, but I know if I was to say anything he would disagree with me and play devil’s advocate until the cows come here. I may as well just stay unhappy in my room forever, it would be much, much easier.

Saturday 20th September

I accidentally spent a bit longer thinking about the whole job situation on Thursday evening until the point where I was in tears. Eventually I managed to stop and go to sleep as intended, and a few hours of further torment were mercifully avoided.

When it finally came, the interview yesterday was…good, I think. The fact that it was potentially the most important interview of my life made walking into the room trickier than it should have been. Also the fact that I don’t really know what they’re looking for didn’t make it easier. Of course there’s the job description, but in my experience at this company job descriptions count for hardly anything.

If I was to go on the stuff listed in the job description, I’m sure I would get the job any day. I’ve proven competency in nearly all the areas they’ve listed. The big question is, do they want someone like me who will do the job quietly and methodically, or do they want someone who’ll do it visibly and loudly? I won’t know until next week and it still seems so unfair.

The rest of Friday was predictably emotional and I could hardly concentrate on my job. Reassurances from friendly colleagues didn’t really help. They’d said it all before.

Luckily yesterday ended and today began and I’m feeling a bit better. I’ve been to the gym again and then to my favourite AA meeting, after which I had a nice chat with one of the regulars. We talked about our shared passion for the gym, and for a while my head was taken out of everything else that’s going on.

Thursday 18th September

Last night I went solo at the gym for the first time, and it was brilliant. For thirteen years I’ve been saying I’ll go to the gym, never actually thinking I would, well now I am. I don’t know what I like about it so much, maybe it’s the mere fact of getting healthier, the endorphins, or even just the fit bodies around me. No it’s more – I like the atmosphere, the constant reminders I can achieve the physical and spiritual health I want – the aspiration to become better. I wish I could go every day but that would be impossible so I must make do with twice or three times a week.

I probably could have gone again this evening, it would have been a lot better than the evening I ended up having. The mind disease is even worse than usual today. I can’t take my mind off tomorrow, off the interview which I’ve been preparing for the past few weeks and which I have no idea if I’ll pass or not. Every second now is filled with thinking about this wretched job. I know it shouldn’t matter that much, that ultimately I will be OK whatever happens, but in my gut I keep getting the message that I need this job. I’ve come to feel as if the whole of the last five years were leading up to this moment. I mean, if they weren’t leading up to this, then what have they been leading up to?

The other people that I’ll be competing against tomorrow don’t seem that bothered about it all, but then again on the surface I probably don’t seem all that bothered. All week I’ve been doing my best not to talk about it because I know I’ll lose it if I start talking to anyone about how I really feel.

I just keep thinking, if I don’t get the job, then what was all of this for? Why have I spent the last five years waiting around in this company for something better to come along, if it’s not going to happen in this company? The worst thing about this as you’ve probably guessed by now is the waiting to find out what will happen. After the interview they’re not expecting to make an instant decision – apparently I’m going to have to wait until next Tuesday for an answer.

I can’t understand why all this waiting is necessary. If I was the one making the decision I would never make my employees wait more than a month to find out if they’re going to be redundant or not. It’s ridiculous and cruel. Maybe that’s part of what managing is, making everyone wait for your decision so you get to hold onto the power for as long as possible. It makes me sick. What possible justification is there for it?

Waiting’s all I can thinking about today. Waiting has become my entire existence. After this I think I’m going to go to sleep for the rest of the evening, I can’t bear to be awake with this mental torment any longer.

This is the true nature of my disease: it’s made me spend my life waiting for and depending on others for my happiness. I don’t know how to take the reins and make my own happiness. I always seem to be stuck in situations where others automatically have the control.

In terms of the interview, I’m as ready as I will ever be. I don’t think I could have done more to prepare. If this was a university assignment I’d give myself a first. Whether it will be good enough for them is anyone’s guess. I can’t even convince myself that there’s a chance it will impress them. No matter what anyone says, the moment I start trying to imagine their response to my prep work I only see their let down expressions. So I can’t think about it any more.

I was going to see J tonight but I had to let him down over the phone. I’m not in the mood for company tonight. We had a nice chat anyway. He was very reassuring, telling me to believe in myself and so on. It’s nice to know we can have that kind of conversation sometimes, that it’s not always going to be me listening to him moan and complain about things.

Now I want nothing more than to lie in a silent, darkened room, so I’m going to turn the light off and take the rest of the evening very easy. I can barely think straight any more.

Monday 15th September

Back at work today and it’s been another full day of thinking about you know what. Interviews for the new job take place this Friday, and I cannot work out whether I want the job or not. I thought I wanted it, until it popped into my head this morning that if they make me redundant, I could move to France permanently and look for work there next year. Let’s face it, the job situation can’t be that much worse there.

As soon as I was thinking about this I knew that I could do it, all I’d have to do is botch this Friday’s interview. I would be free. It could be the amazing adventure I’ve always craved in life. I’d never have to feel resentful at my bosses again.

What’s troubling me now is the real possibility that France might not work out. If I can’t get a job there in say three months, I’d have to come back and look for work here, and probably move back home. I could just decide not to look for work in France, just go there for a couple of months and rest and then come back to start looking for work here. But for some reason I’ve got this idea of settling in France in my head – and it won’t leave. I don’t think I could go there for any length of time next year and not look for a work and a life.

There’s all the palaver associated with moving to a different country to think about. For example, how do you open a French bank account? When’s the right time to ask the French government about paying taxes? Who do you even ask?

There’ll be difficulties back home as well. I’d have to cancel all my memberships, bills and standing orders. And there’s the question of what to do with the place I currently live in. Initially I thought I’d keep it while I go to France for just a holiday. But if I’m going to be serious about living in France, there would hardly be much point continuing to rent an empty room in London. The money I save not renting in London would give me an extra month or two in France at least. If I leave this place, the problem would be what to tell my landlord – I’m sure he’d be far from happy, having just spent money to help me do up my room. As soon as I think about how unhappy he’d be I get resentful because he doesn’t own me and he shouldn’t have the right to pressure me to stay here. But I’m too nice, I’d feel bad anyway.

I wish I could make up my mind about what the hell I want. If I could believe that I want this job then I’ll put my heart into it and probably get it. If I could believe I really want to move to France, I won’t feel bad about leaving here and ignoring the advice of friends who say it’s a crazy idea. As it is I’m constantly wavering between the two and it’s driving me mad.

Even though it’s really a win-win situation, it doesn’t feel like it at all. It feels unfair to be in this position, especially because I have no control over what happens and when I find out. I thought about nothing else today, as you can imagine. This has without a doubt been the longest month of my life. For fuck’s sake, I just want to know what’s going to happen!

When I was in Spain last month I spent every moment wishing that the time would slow down so I could savour it more. Now I’ve got my wish – time has slowed down and come practically to a halt – only it’s happened at the wrong time, and I desperately want time to speed back up to its normal pace. In just a week from now I’ll know the truth – only a week – and yet it feels an eternity. It is an eternity.

Sunday 14th September

Yesterday I had booked an induction at my local gym, because I’ve been meaning to go for literally years, I really want to lose weight and get healthy and now it seems like the natural next step after swimming. Becoming a member of the gym as well as the swimming pool won’t cost much more than what I’m paying now. I just wanted to have an induction, to see what it’s like and if I’ll like it. I was naturally a bit nervous on my way into the gym – bear in mind I’ve never set foot in one in my entire life – but almost as soon as I got there, a friendly instructor was available to put me at ease. She took me through all the machines one by one and gave me a program of exercises to follow that are guaranteed to get me in shape quickly, should I stick to them.

I don’t know if I’m going to go back twice a week and do all those press-ups, sit-ups and what not like she obviously was expecting me to, but I am going to go back. The treadmills and the bicycles are fantastic, and I loved the atmosphere there. There’s something about getting fit that’s really captured me this year. Had you told me I’d be doing this a year ago, I’d have laughed in your face.

After the gym I strolled to a nearby AA meeting, thinking I was bound to enjoy it as I was in such a chipper mood. When I arrived an old friend sat next to me and smiled, which I thought was nice. At the end for some reason I felt awkward about speaking to him. We’ve had something of a history; five years ago we fell out for a while when he relapsed, and although amends were made later on, I don’t know if the wound ever fully healed. I wanted to talk to him yesterday, but after we’d said the serenity prayer we simply hugged and had the beginnings of a superficial chat. All the while I got the impression there were about ten other people he wanted to talk to as well, and even though you shouldn’t feel this way in AA, I hate burdening or delaying people in meetings.

When it looks like I’m not the only person that a fellow alcoholic would like to focus on, I can’t be there, I have to run away and let them get on with their infinitely more interesting conversations. I awkwardly waved at him, said goodbye and ran off, saying I’d see him again soon when I knew I most likely wouldn’t. I seriously considered giving that meeting a break for a while, maybe a few months or years until I could be sure that the awkwardness was forgotten about. But even as I was climbing the stairs and coming to the exit I knew I couldn’t go down that route yet again. I gave AA nearly a year’s break last year: that was long enough. In spite of the awkwardness, in spite of the fact that I fucking hate talking to people in AA after all these years, it’s clear to me now that I have to keep going back. Another break isn’t going to make a difference, it’s just going to make things worse.

Wednesday 10th September

Counselling last night was really good. I was expecting to go in and have nothing to talk about, because I’ve been feeling really well this week, unexpectedly, but as it turned out I had loads to talk about. We went back over childhood and I explained how people always expected me to grow up, be a man and stand up for myself, even though no one ever told me how to do any of those things. I realised that I still have this problem at work where I can’t approach the scary people and speak out, ask for help because I didn’t learn how to do it at school. When I was a teenager instead of learning that I had a valid voice and that I was worthy of people’s attention, I learnt that I was thick, gay and pretty much worthless in every respect. So of course I’ll find it difficult in the work environment today when I come across difficult attitudes in colleagues, when everything’s going wrong and no one seems to care, because it’s like being back at school, where everything really was going wrong and no one gave a fuck about my feelings.

I also realised it’s not just this month that I’m waiting for something important to happen, I’ve been waiting all my life. Whenever I come to a turning point, I always see the next one around the corner, and I’m thinking ahead to that long before it’s due to come. I’ve been in a constant state of waiting since about the age of fifteen I guess, when I wanted nothing more than to grow up and have the freedom to escape from my situation. Since then I’ve lived with the same feeling in various forms constantly, even though I am grown up now and have a vast amount of freedom compared to what I had when I was fifteen. I remain helplessly fixated on the future – my mind constantly expects things to get better next year or the year after, when I have a better job, more money, a better place to live. Until then I must live in purgatory and put up with the daily grind. 

Regardless of the fact that I sat discussing this with the counsellor for nearly an hour yesterday, I began today with the same feeling of waiting for something to happen all over again, and I’ve fed it all day. I worked out how many working days we’ve got left until December, when my current job that I hate ends and I’ll either be starting a new job or I’ll be redundant.

I started a countdown calendar on my desktop which I will see every day for the rest of the year. The thought of counting down the days seemed like fun at first but now I am a slave to that countdown. It’s almost all I can focus on when I’m at work now. I know I’m making the time pass more slowly, so much so that three months will seem like a monumental epoch rather than just a quarter of a year. Now that I’ve started thinking about it that way of course I can’t stop. Yet again logic flies out of the window.

Sunday 7th September

I spent last night with J. To my surprise it was really nice, in spite of the bad mood I was in to start with. Within about half an hour I realised he wasn’t going to engage with it, so I gave up trying to get him to. We curled up in each other’s arms and slowly undressed each other, and everything bad was instantly forgotten about.

This morning the doubts have found their way in again and I’ve tired myself out trying to find answers to the million questions I have. He’d caught me off guard by coming up with a solution to the problem of me not being able to see him much: he hinted at the idea of us moving in together next year. He’d brought it up purely as a hypothetical scenario – i.e. if we were living together then I’d have him every night instead of just once a week – then he qualified it afterwards by saying it was just a hypothetical thought, but now I know the desire must be somewhere inside him, otherwise why would he bring it up?

The scary question I’m faced with now is not whether he wants things to be that serious, it’s whether I want them to be that serious. Living with a boyfriend who I love and can go to bed with every night has always been a nice thought, but I have no idea what the reality will be like, and considering all these doubts I have about J, I can’t see it being plain sailing at all. Can you? I mean, for a start, how would we ever have time to look for places together? He works 70 hours a week sometimes.

And even if we manage to find a place, will my heart really be in it? I know I like him a lot and I want to like him enough to move in with him, but I don’t know if I do. I’ve never been in this situation before, I don’t even know what “liking someone enough” is!