In November 2012, I had my last job interview. At the end- Do you have any questions for us?- the woman said to me, “That is the first time I have seen you smile” and after I was smiling with every word I said, grinning like an idiot. Then I stopped going in to the CAB as a volunteer. I could not be bothered with it. I prefer my current lifestyle. I-
here I pause. I want you to react. I want you to make “go on” noises. I open up my body language a bit, crossing ankles rather than legs, hands loosely folded in lap rather than by my waist, but other than that stay still. Eventually she asks me to go on.
Another interviewer had told me that he had not thought I could relate sufficiently to their clients. Actually I could: with a client I sought to give power to the client, so got them to open up. People said things they found embarrassing, or said “I’m not explaining this very well”- evidence that they were concerned about their ability to tell someone but felt comfortable enough with me to try- but with a job interview all the power is the other way.
-Did you explain that in interview?
-Yes. Possibly not as much detail as there.
-Why did you go to that interview?
-Because I had not realised before quite how sick I was of it.
I prefer my current lifestyle. I read a bit, watch a lot of recorded TV (I would not want to watch daytime TV, but watch in the daytime) walk in the park. Last night there was a Quaker discussion group but I might go a week without seeing someone to talk to.
It seems to me that there might be something more to life than this, but I cannot see how to get it if there is. I like to think that if the benefits stopped and I had to change, I would, but I might not: people came in to the CAB with letters saying the bailiffs would evict them the following day, and I might stop paying my rent and run up my credit card, but the day before eviction I might just go back to bed.
Silently, I wonder if I could get any sort of job just for an income, and find some pleasure in a hobby. Or wean myself out of my shell, perhaps volunteering at the charity shop.
Oh, I want you to respond! I hunger for it! I take what I can- a slightly slower blink, a motion of the head-
That last speech therapist in Newport asked me what I wanted. I could not say, at the time, but I wanted
-to do Good, that I might be worthy of existing
-to see myself as a Good person, for some fragile sense of safety- I might continue to be worthy of existing
-to attract as little attention as possible, because any attention will be irritated, and will be unpleasant to me.
It seems to me that this is a small child response. (She asks me to explain.) This is me with my mother, very young, and taking that response into adult life. I blame my upbringing- not my mother, for she did her best, and I have seen a friend aged fifty express her live distress at 26 years before having a baby and not having a clue how to be with him. If she had realised she did not want me beforehand, and not had me, some delight would have been missed.
I curl up on the floor and scream. Even as I did the inner critic told me I was being theatrical, I was play-acting.
This is really painful. It may be useful, but only in uncovering my blind spots. I don’t think I have articulated this as clearly before. Do you think this is any use? She can’t tell me. I have to get wherever it is I am going, myself. Either she disagrees with Carl Rogers, or has been told to therap in a different way.
There is nowhere I can recover for a bit. She suggests the bench outside under the trees, which is covered in bird poo. I go to the children’s area, kneel, and “trace the spaghetti” with my hand. I ought to be past that developmental stage- perhaps I was honouring my inner child or something. The beads make satisfying clicking sounds. Then I go to the butcher’s, and walk home.