A difficult weekend.
Some of my former colleagues in media wanted to sit down with me to catch up on news and involve me with projects and features. They miss working with me and some haven’t seen me since 2007. It is so touching, even flattering in one way, but I am not that person any longer. None of them knew anything about my struggle with alcoholism because I was a secret drinker and after I sobered up, they were supportive but baffled when I confided in a few of them.
The problem for me is that I have changed so much in the last three years, and since I left my former workplace. The old me would have loved to be involved with these projects, but I no longer want anything to do with media. My writing has changed, I have changed, the way in which I work has changed. That outward persona I developed to help me cope with the stress and rush of media doesn’t exist any more.
Yesterday I called the friends concerned and emailed others — as they responded, I realised again how problematic that workplace had been and the pressure exerted on me to get involved there again. Not much has changed, as it happens. I kept thinking of the Eagles’ Hotel California:
‘You can check out any time/but you can never leave’
I am becoming or unlearning or just floundering. Treading water is what I expect to do for the first six or eight years of sobriety. If not longer. I know I am not ready for certain kinds of relationship. I know I don’t want the kind of relationship with which I made do for so many years. But beyond that I can’t go right now.
Last night I had a long and disturbing dream about walking around a house belonging to my managing director and saw great Francis Bacon paintings up on the wall, eviscerated bleeding slabs, twisted dissolving torsos and agonised faces, bodies sliding apart, raw and blurred with movement. I stopped and looked hard at them, shocked but responding to the power of Bacon’s art, then realised the MD could not see them at all. She had filled the house with chinoiserie and frippery, elaborate window dressings for windows with dirty glass, family photographs in silver frames but she could not recognise the images in the photographs, wingback chairs too small for adults, garish colour schemes. There were curved staircases leading up to landings with no rooms, going nowhere. Locked doors with skeleton keys that didn’t fit the tumbler locks. And everywhere ornamental cages of moulting and dead birds, the smell of rotting corpses, feathers drifting down.