I’m feeling sad and tired today. Sad that it’s come to this: I can’t face my job any more. Tired of feeling sad all the time. Returning to work this week after a break wasn’t horrendous. Nothing drastic or life altering has happened. But I can’t face it any more. Day after day, worrying about nothing. Not talking to anybody unless I have to. Feeling like everyone is judging me, all the time. I’ve returned to my worst nightmare, being back at school. The reality of the situation may be nothing like school but in my head I’ve been back there for the past several months, and I can’t escape now.
I’m trapped. I have to keep working until there’s a change in the business and we’re rewarded for it. I have to pay for my share of the holidays that P has booked for us in Europe later in the summer. I’m trapped, even though I can choose to leave my job at any time, because I’ve conditioned myself to need the money. Without the money, I don’t pay for those holidays, I don’t pay off my debts, I don’t get a deposit for a flat, I live in other people’s homes for the rest of my life. I can’t blame society for this. Society has set the framework for my situation, but I’ve chosen to remain, get stuck further and further into it.
Most days in the office I feel invisible. A left this week, two weeks earlier than he was meant to, so I’ve said goodbye to the last person I considered a friend there. When A was around there was at least a chance to laugh, have a conversation, distract myself from the tedium. I can’t blame him for leaving. His job was coming to an end anyway, it was boring and depressing him. So as he turns over a new leaf and finally puts all of this behind him, I remain locked in my own interminable hell, which he will forever be oblivious to.
Without my past behind me I would be like anyone else that I work with, not worried about being judged or humiliated all the time. Because I have that past this is all starting to seem like a sick joke. I thought tonight on the way home, not for the first time, that I must have a higher power with a cruel sense of humour. In AA they always say that your higher power has your best interests at heart, but I’ve never been completely sure of that. Well, tonight I’m really not sure. By judging my higher power so harshly maybe I’m making things even worse for myself, because to stay healthy and sober I’m supposed to be on side with my HP, I’m supposed to believe in it no matter what. Tonight I can’t. I just can’t.
Yesterday something happened that made it seem like I was back at school. Coming out of the station at 10 to 8 in the morning, I immediately noticed on the pavement up ahead of me four people from another department who I’ve never spoken to, all in a huddle, chatting and laughing as they walked to work. I’ve seen them separately on the route to work before, never together. Cautiously I slowed my pace, to ensure that I wouldn’t catch up with them during the ten minute walk to the office. After a couple of minutes I heard some familiar voices burst out of the silence somewhere behind me; two more colleagues from other departments, laughing and gabbing on their way to work, oblivious to my silent panic. I was sandwiched between the two groups with no way out; there are no other routes I can take in the morning, I couldn’t speed up to pass the other group without being noticed, nor could I slow down and let the other group overtake me, without being noticed. It’s all about not being noticed, you see. It’s my only protection.
It happened to me all the time at school. Nearly every morning I’d get off the train at a certain time and there’d be someone there, slightly up ahead or slightly behind, completely oblivious to me while I was forced to monitor their movements carefully for the next ten minutes, just to make sure our paths didn’t cross.
I want to ask if this has ever happened to anyone else, but there’s no one to ask. I feel too embarrassed to share it in AA, and I can’t talk to P about it, because he won’t get it. He says he gets my problems but I don’t think he does at all. To every problem his answer is to brighten up, look to the light at the end of the tunnel, I only have to stick it out a while longer. In a good mood on a Saturday evening, I can listen to that sort of thing. Day like today, I can’t take it.
That’s why I feel like I’m becoming invisible again, like I was at the age of sixteen. All the people who might have understood or cared have drifted out of my life, leaving me surrounded with people who could be a different species to me. On a daily basis at work now I say little more than five words to anyone during the day. The one that really hurts there is L. We sit next to each other, I used to think we were friends, but whatever we were, is in the past. We don’t speak unless we have to. I don’t know what happened, but it happened gradually and subtly. One day we’d stopped saying more than ‘hello’ to each other in the mornings. I stopped laughing at her jokes. She stopped sending me smiley emojis on google chat. I’d love to know what she thinks about me now – if she thinks anything. Maybe to her nothing’s changed, maybe I’m actually imagining this. It seems unlikely.
There may be ways of improving the situation, if I were to make an effort with it like the voices of former AA sponsors keep saying I should. But the truth is I’m finding it harder and harder to want to try. If I am truly invisible to the people around me, if no one will ever really understand what’s going on inside me, then what’s the point?
Let’s face it, I’ve made everything so bad for myself, pushed myself so far into a corner, there isn’t much that’s going to take me out of it. I think of being able to get into bed with a gorgeous naked man, wrap myself in his arms, lay in his warmth and his love until it all seems better. If I could do that I’d stop complaining about work instantly, but you know what? There’s no man coming to save me tonight. There never will be any man to save me. I know for a fact the perfect man does exist, because I see hundreds of them on the train every day – not a single one of them’s going to do a thing for me, because to them I really am utterly invisible.
Why don’t I go ahead and do it, then? Kill myself, I mean. Since I’m thinking about it so much. That’s a great question. Well in spite of my desperation to escape from this coffin I call my life – in spite of the daily suffocation at work and in my room at night – I really don’t think I want to die. I’d kill myself because it would be a way of getting back at the world, of showing them how serious my problems are. If I could do it without dying, that would be great. If I could do it, botch it and still somehow be alive in the morning, like a desperate teenager’s cry for help when they don’t know how to do the job properly or don’t have the tools at their disposal, that would be enough. But I don’t even really want to do that. It’s too much effort.
In me there’s still too much of a need to live through all this; there’s this seed that was planted sixteen years ago when I botched my first suicide attempt and I realised that I had to live; it won’t go away. Through everything, somehow, it waits and it hopes for things to get better. It strangely seems to know that things will get better, eventually. While on the surface I may be veering between suicidal ideation and a hopeless resignation to carrying on in life, underneath the layers this little seed of hope remains, telling me to just wait another day, my time will come. If it were to come down to it, this part of me won’t let me kill myself. At my worst times I always manage to remember it’s there: and so I just keep carrying on, ridiculous as it seems. Is it a vestige of sanity in me that’s keeping me alive? Is it a higher power?