This piece was something that a friend recommended that I do, and is something that hits quite close to home. Some of the things mentioned in this are personal experiences, others are put in there to illustrate how this affects someone. I'm not sure that I am entirely comfortable posting this, but if anyone else feels similar things, I want them to know that they aren't alone. 

Everyone's feelings are important, whether you feel like they are or not. If anyone feels the same, IT IS OK TO TALK. Don't hide away and let this fester. I welcome anyone that would like to email about this. YOU ARE NOT ALONE - KR

 

SURVIVING

He sat at the table, a bottle of Bourbon open and a shooter glass next to it, a small pool of brown liquid still on the bottom. He was watching the people coming into the bar. How they all smiled, laughed and seemed carefree. How was it that they could do that? How did the responsibilities not weigh them down as they did him? People watching was a guilty pleasure of his. He liked to think he could guess what people were doing.

The couple over in the corner on the single table? They were on their first date.

He was way into it, on the edge of his seat, his arms on either side of the table as close as he could get to her.

She was sitting so far back on her chair, arms folded and leaning back. She was not as into this date as he was. He smiled at that. The poor guy.

A family of five were sitting near him, the children all playing on phones or Gameboys while the parents sat in silence, not looking at each other. Something was wrong there; their relationship appeared to be rocky.

As he did this, he wondered if they worried about things as much as he did.

Did they stress that this meal was going to cost them as much as a week’s worth of groceries?

Were they worried that they weren’t talking?

Did it annoy them that their children were playing games and not having a conversation?

Did the poor guy on his first date realise that it was going poorly?

Why did his brain not turn off?

He shook his head, poured himself another bourbon and downed it in one gulp. He grimaced as the liquid burned his throat a bit, but then relished in the warm feeling he got in his stomach.

 

It wasn’t working quickly enough.

The little voice in his head was still there, whispering constantly to him, making him think of things that he would rather not think about at the moment.

His bills were starting to overtake him, no matter his budget; it always seemed that he struggled to keep up with them. He was tired of having barely any money for himself during the week, but making sure that his partner was well looked after. Work was boring for him, but it was good money so he pushed through it. He couldn’t let her down; he was supposed to be the rock of the relationship, the one that held everything together. He wanted her to chase her dreams and not worry about anything else. Instead he was to take on that, he was the one making the money after all.

If he was honest though, a little bit of himself resented her for it. While he stressed about everything to make sure that they could live comfortably, she did nothing to contribute. She argued that she did the washing and made sure the house was clean, that was her contribution. He agreed on that point, she did do a lot of housework that he didn’t. But she paid for nothing.  He gave her money so that she could buy things, and all he really did was watch her spend more than he gave. He tried to refrain from looking at his bank account most days, it only added to the stress.

Another shooter, grimace, the warm feeling returned to his stomach.

It wasn’t fair of him to feel like that towards her, she was doing what made her happy; he can’t resent her for that. 

Work was all together another thing. When he had started he had loved it. But changes, over-managing and constant pressure had made the job less fun, more boring and not at all what he really wanted to do. His partner had pushed him to chase his dreams, but the same old stresses about money had come up. He couldn’t support them both and chase his dream. He would just have to wait.

 

The couple on their first date got up; he watched them as they walked past. She reached for his hand and held it, looking at him as he was talking. He raised his eyebrows in surprise. He hadn’t expected that at all. He laughed to himself and had another shot of bourbon. It was going down easier now, which was a good sign. Soon the voice in his head would go quiet and he could finally relax. That little voice was always present. Always whispering in the background of his mind. Whether it be money, work or anything else. He always had the voice in the back of his mind when he was at his local sports club. Always seemed to see them look at each other when he was around.

Did they not want him there?

Did they not like him?

He was quiet around them most of the time, not sure what to say or how to act. Not wanting to make a fool out of himself and have them not respect him. It made things worse.

Am I not talking enough?

Should I say something?

What if I say the wrong thing?

He found that it was easier when they had functions and he had some social lubricant. The voice seemed to disappear and he could talk easier and not worry as much. If he stopped drinking, that voice started to wake back up. It was always peaceful when that voice stopped; he was happier, more confident. As far as he had found out though, there was only one way to get that voice to stop for a time.

 

The family sitting near him that weren’t communicating with each other received their meals. For the first time since they had got there, the children put down their technology and instead, stared at their food. The parents complained to each other that their meal had taken so long to get out to them, while he overheard one of the children say, “Already?”

He laughed through his nose. Time was all relevant. The children with their toys were having fun waiting while the parents who didn’t talk felt like it had been forever. Now the dynamic changed, the parents were talking to each other, mostly complaining, and the children were quiet. Family never really helped him feel better. He recalled having one particularly bad battle with the voice, which he lost. He had gone to his parents’ house to talk to them, only for his mother to shield her face to him, looking at the father who said, “I’ve had to listen to him for over an hour now,”

It was like a punch to the guts. He felt that even his parents didn’t want to deal with him.

 

He shook his head at the memory, and then did what he always did. Self-critiqued.

Maybe he spoke about himself too much?

Maybe that’s why he felt as though no one wanted to speak to him. Whenever he spoke to someone he felt that he had to consciously make sure that he didn’t do that too much. He made sure to ask questions about them and what they were talking about before he started to share his experiences or opinions. Even then, he felt that they weren’t interested or didn’t care. It was something he struggled with every day, or when he was sober.

 

As he did when he got this far into his head, he scolded himself.

He didn’t have it that bad. He had a job, a roof over his head and could do things that he wanted to do. More people out there were worse off than he is. People had real problems. Everyone had bills that stacked up quickly, not everyone loved their job and he knew of people who did the same thing that he did for his girlfriend. That voice in his head, everyone had that. He shouldn’t be letting this get him down. He should be thankful for what he has, and that his life isn’t that bad. There were people who struggled to get a job, didn’t have a girlfriend and barely had any friends. It wasn’t right for him to feel like this. He had no reason too.

So why did he?

The voice was starting to win this battle too.

It was a vicious cycle, feeling bad about feeling bad led to him feeling even worse. That something was wrong with him, when there really shouldn’t be.

 

The bottle was almost half way empty, he could feel that drunkenness was only a few more drinks away. The voice was starting to quiet down and he was feeling happier. This is what he loved, this is why he went out a lot and drank. It was going quiet in his head, he wasn’t stressing about work or money or friends. He didn’t feel as though he was a failure, that he wasn’t going to make it anywhere in life or that things would be easier if he just didn’t exist. That single thought terrified him.

It always came at the very end, when the voice had worn him down or he was tired. It seemed very easy to him to just not be around, to not have to worry about anything anymore and not let anyone else down. He would never do it though, that just wasn’t him. He would do nothing to stop it happening however. Almost falling down a cliff, seeing a car not slowing down as he went through a roundabout, he even felt that a gun in his face wouldn’t inspire fear of death. If it was going to happen, so be it. He wouldn’t lift a finger to try and stop it.

 

“Might want to slow down there mate,” The bartender said as he walked past his table, nodding towards the bottle. It was over half way done and he had only got it forty minutes ago.

“It’s fine,” He said with a smile. He was feeling it truthfully, the feeling of happiness was spreading through his body and he could feel himself relaxing. The voice was all but gone; he breathed in deeply, smiled, and let it out.

 

This was better.

 

 

 

 

Published by Kyle Ricketts