Sunday, September 02, 2007

Putting the past behind me

Friday was my last day at Abbey, the company I have worked for since I left college in 1994. It was one of the worst days of my life. I am finding it difficult to put into context or understand how I feel. The most pressing feeling is one of emptiness; of a wasted thirteen years. It all seems to have been for nothing and the final few hours felt so flat and unimportant. There was no real closure to it all, just a hurried and almost unnoticed departure and that's it. Over. Finished. Nothing to acknowledge or remember how much this part of my life has meant for me. Okay its only work, just a job etc. Yep, maybe that is all it has been. Nothing more important and perhaps the final realisation of that is what is so devastating. That I've invested nothing but feel that I've lost immensely.

Its a sad truth that I had no friends at work. Not what I would call friends, just colleagues and casual acquaintances. That I have to admit is as much my fault as anyone elses. I am not an easy person to get along with and I maintain a careful distance between myself and other people. I am never fully relaxed in the company of others. I always hold something back and I think I am not one of these people that can naturally slip into familiar conversations with people or that can form lasting relationships on any kind of intimate level. I am very much an island and most of the time that suits me just fine. Sometimes though it doesn't work. Every now and again I crave to break down those barriers and be open and just be with other people. To feel free, I guess.

My way of coping, if it is that at all, is to cut adrift the past. Put it away in a box and forget about it, as if it never happened. That is what I am doing now. I am gradually distancing myself from my last job, consigning those thirteen years to history and trying to forget about them. I have no intentions of keeping in touch with anyone because truth is, what is the point? We shared nothing in common but the fact that we worked together. There is no deeper connection that. To sustain any sort of contact would be pointless and I feel as I have often done before, that there is a time to move on. I never look back and I never wish to go back. What is done is done. The past I cannot change.

Nobody really wants to keep in touch with me anyway. People say things like 'you must keep in touch' as a glib, throw-away line. They say it without meaning anything. It is said with no real intention that we must keep in touch; it just seems a social courtesy like bidding someone hello or goodbye. Surely, if anyone was serious about keeping in touch they would not have let me leave without exchanging contact details and why after thirteen years, when I have kept in touch with nobody that I have worked with, would they suddenly want to start now?

I didn't have a leaving do, I couldn't face it. I couldn't confront the insincerity of it all, the ritual of doing something just because 'you have too' without it meaning anything. Maybe I take it all too seriously in that I need meaning in everything. That there has to be something deeper to it, rather than just a few drinks after work. I just can't stand superficiality.

No, I mustn't dwell on it. Time to move on. The past is done.

Maybe I can be different in my new job. Maybe I can build up some contacts and some meaningful relationships.

The past is behind me now. Whether I've learnt anything or not I don't know. I just hope I can have a better future.


Carla said...

It's natural that you feel that something should happen, that gestures should be made to mark this occasion, which for you is a very big deal. But you're on the right track by realising that this is what happens to most people, and by choosing not to have a leaving do because it feels uncomfortable to you, and most importantly by recognizing that what's done is done and it should be left in the past, which, after all, no longer exists. Rather than turn your attention (or hanging your hopes on) the future, why not notice the present moment. Today was the last day of your job, observe your feelings, label them, analyze them. Detach from them. (Ie, 'I am feeling let down, I am feeling a bit of anxiety about my relationship to others and about my future job. It's normal to have these feelings. It's part of the human experience. For now, I will breathe in and out, I will slow down and pay attention to mundane details, which turn out to be not so mundane, and far more based in reality than these illusory thoughts and emotions.'

This sounds kind of weird, but it really helps. It's called 'insight meditation'.

Hope you're feeling brighter soon.

Come see us soon, by the way!!

jamie said...

enough with the navel gazing,mark!
you spend too much time raising walls around yourself,when most likely there are people around you who do share your many passions,your classical music,your love of literature,politics,quality cinema,steam trains...okay,maybe not steam trains,lol
but if you don't share your interests,you will never discover others...
live in the moment,with one eye on the past,but always look to the future,xxx
we both love you,mark,and regard you as one of our closest friends,someone we will-hopefully-grow old knowing.
take care,
jamie and theresa.

Joe said...

All I can think to say is from the Bard himself, in the current play I'm learning lines for, when Lear condemns Kent into a life of exile:

"Thus Kent oh princes, bids you all adieu. He'll shape his old course, in a country new."