That’s how you fight loneliness

I had CPD in the city for half of today.

I always have an element of anxiety walking into the room. Above and beyond, that is, the usual walk-into-the-room anxiety I have.

There’s always a solid chance that an ex-colleague will be there. Given the fairly toxic work environment I used to be in, the very high turnover, and the very senior role I had that involved, hiring, firing and performance management, there’s every chance these people would be hoping just as much I’m not there when they walk in the room.

But today I got lucky. I walked in and one of my most favourite people in the world was there. One of the two colleagues that really helped me through the God-awful last 12 months in that place. She is one of those people that simultaneously grounds you and makes you feel everything is right with the world. It was so lovely to see her.

I need to expand my social circle. A close friend has been in Europe for a few weeks, and with her being gone, I’ve come to realise how few people there really are in my life. Beyond the boy, that is.

When I got sick I kind of folded in on myself – partly through necessity, to preserve myself mentally and physically, and partly because I don’t really need that big a reason to enable my introverted self.

I still like being alone. Being alone isn’t lonely for me. I work from home four days a week now, and I really enjoy being in the house by myself. People ask me if I miss having colleagues and working in an office and the answer is genuinely no.

But I do think sometimes it would be nice to have a group of closer friends I could reach out to on the weekend. And I feel it more acutely when one of my small group of close friends, for whatever reason, isn’t here.

Today I am grateful for the person I saw today. There was one particular day in that job, around 3 weeks before I finally left, that is possibly one of the worst days of my whole life. I got a bad decision on a visa application, and having balanced on a mental health precipice for months, I lost myself and my balance completely. I don’t remember very much about what happened after that. I remember getting up out of my chair and stumbling from my desk to the front of the office just saying, over and over again, ‘No. No. No. No.’ I remember sobbing and not being able to stop. I remember having trouble breathing and having chest pains so bad I couldn’t straighten up. I remember leaving the office and not being sure if I could bring myself to go back.

But I also remember this person being there. She came to find me when she found out what happened and she sat with me, quietly being there, until the earth righted itself and I could think straight. She dealt with the fall out from the Partners and held them at bay for the rest of the day so I didn’t have to speak to them. Since then she is a constant source of wisdom and guidance and has been there every time I’ve needed her.

One positive thing about myself today: I can be very patient. I’ve been coordinating a weekend away with my family for my brother’s birthday, and it’s honestly like herding cats. But I’ve managed to coordinate for everyone to be in the same place on the same weekend (or, at least, I think I have) and so far everyone is still talking to one another.

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