17th June 2018.
I don’t know how to continue. I don’t know where to go or to whom to turn. I’ve been stumbling through life for more than a decade now too scared to change location, too scared to see new places, too scared to change job. Now that change – or maybe the inevitability and necessity of change – might have been thrust upon me I find myself paralysed by fear like never before. In a few weeks I have to say goodbye to someone I love, someone who has supported and protected me for over six years, someone who I trust fully and who sees the best in me. Nothing is certain now, everything is magnified and I feel on the verge of a total breakdown. This, in all honesty, has probably been a long time coming. Yet, I can tell no one. As an only child, how do you tell your two unknowing, vulnerable, divorced parents that you need help? Help that they cannot give? Help that you wouldn’t ever dream of expecting them to give? I haven’t felt this alone, this powerless – this useless – for so long and I don’t know what to do.
I turn twenty-eight next month and the fact that I have missed many of those accepted milestones is now painfully highlighted. At seventeen I wasn’t encouraged to learn to drive, I wasn’t shown how to by a parent. I was too petrified. At eighteen I didn’t go to university away from home, I didn’t go travelling, I didn’t explore. In my early twenties I didn’t move out, I didn’t share a house with friends, I didn’t even go on holiday with anyone. Maybe the easy choice was the right choice, it certainly was financially. Working in a small, nearby city I have met many truly wonderful people, people who let me “be me,” people by whom I am petrified of being forgotten and left. And I did go to university, in that same small, nearby city and, I have to say, I succeeded. I’m proud of my First Class Degree, but where has it got me? As I trundle towards thirty years of age, I don’t really feel safe anywhere but my own bedroom – I can’t imagine being anywhere else. I can’t do it on my own – emotionally and physically, I just cannot do it on my own. I need people, I need people to take me by the hand and pull me along, people to help me and show me the way. How could I even begin to imagine learning to drive and run a car when I can’t even pick up the phone to book a lesson? I am pathetic. For a little while I foolishly let myself believe that I was talented, or special – maybe even exceptional, I foolishly let myself believe that I did deserve to be happy and feel comfortable and that I had a successful future ahead of me. No longer. Two former colleagues made it their business to put it around that I was “just an unreliable, incapable alcoholic.” Maybe they were right – maybe I am incapable. Incapable. Useless.
Over the years I’ve watched, with heartfelt pride and happiness, countless friends come-and-go, countless friends pass their driving test, get married, have children. I’ve celebrated their career successes, looked on as they share a meal, a caress, a kiss with their respective partners, scrolled through their holiday photos, revelled in their tales of years-gone-by. I’ve been there to encourage, to support…to loan money if needed – a role that I’m forever happy to play. Though, I’m devastated that this heartfelt pride and happiness is often marred by personal embarrassment, shame, envy – that feeling of “why not me?” I don’t want to be alone forever, I don’t want to feel trapped forever…I can’t write another farewell card, I can’t say another goodbye. I’m fading, retreating, a little more with each passing day. All of my energy is focused on not succumbing to emotion, not collapsing in a heap, not showing how much I’m struggling to keep putting one foot in front of the other – on nine occasions in the past fours days I have failed and become awash with tears. I can’t recall from which work it comes, but the American poet Charlie Smith once wrote of “the boy starving at the feast.” This resonates.
My passport expired recently having not once been used. I’ve never had a boyfriend, so, I deduce that I am unlovable, unable to experience what it’s like to be in a relationship. I’ve been in the same job for over a third of my life, never moved out of home, haven’t travelled farther than London in over three years. This can’t be an accident. I can’t do things by myself. Everyone I love, everyone with whom I feel safe, everyone I need eventually leaves. No one can carry me forever, nor would I expect them too; they have their own lives to leave. Undoubtedly it is best that I’m left behind, left to stumble forward, left to battle to see another sunrise.
I need to make people proud. I need to achieve. I feel an utter failure.