I’ve been in my job for five years now and there isn’t anyone that I really get along with, they’re OK but not that close to me. I know I have to get along with them at work, so I do, but sometimes they make me so angry I have to leave and go somewhere on my own before I lose it. Not anything in particular either, just general stuff around the office that sets me off. For example, if Roy and Danielle are talking quietly and laughing about something, I start to get edgy.
I mean, the other day five people who work near to me went off to lunch without me, not that that would matter in itself, but I had asked Lauren earlier if she wanted to have lunch with me, she said she was meeting her husband and couldn’t. Well, she went out with the others and I was left on my own. I started to get angry then, it felt like the worst betrayal in the world, seriously, I was absolutely fuming and I don’t really consider myself to be an angry person, if someone forgets my birthday I don’t mind or little things like not returning things they’ve borrowed from me I can forgive easily. But this time was bad, and it wasn’t as if I could let it go either, I had lunch on my own and when they came back I tried to pretend I was OK, but later Erica asked to borrow one of my pens and I blew up.
You wouldn’t believe how I screamed at her, then I turned on all of them, the language I used was disgusting, obviously I have heard those words before but I wouldn’t consider them to be part of my everyday vocabulary, especially aimed at someone who had asked, quite politely, to use my pen. It was a tirade, that’s the right word I believe. The odd thing was, it was as if I was standing to one side watching myself do it. My face was bright red, there was foam at the corners of my mouth and drops of saliva flying out at the people closest to me.
The temper left me as quick as it had come, and I dropped into my chair, totally drained of all feeling in that moment. The stunned expressions on my colleagues’ faces would have been funny in a comedy programme on television and for an instant that’s exactly what it was, then the reality hit, it wasn’t funny it was horrific. During the tantrum I had mentioned being betrayed by Lauren, which made it all worse because it turned out that they had all been arranging a surprise for me because I had worked so hard on the project we had just completed. Imagine how I felt then, and they all gathered round me looking concerned asking what was wrong, after what I had done it was just awful.
Yes, the project, that’s something I suppose, it wasn’t really me though, we all worked really hard for nearly six months on it. I was supervising a team. We were tasked with changing over the whole computer system for this company. The new system had to be set up, then run in parallel while we changed over all the information on their files. I worked six days a week for that time, sometimes being in the office for fourteen hours a day and on call all the time in case something went wrong. For me it was a career high point being asked to head up the team, in charge of some very competent people, even several men.
The whole thing went really well, and we were congratulated by the top people of our company for completing the job without any problems. No, it’s not particularly unusual to work that hard, but there were other factors involved that made this project unusually important, some new software and custom programming that hadn’t been done before, but my workload is quite large most of the time. I love the work though, so it doesn’t seem like a burden, and you know what they say about women having to work twice as hard to get on, well anyway. I suppose they do value me, I mean, I don’t expect these sessions are cheap and the company’s paying.
After my outburst the boss called me in to the office and closed the door, which is unusual. She said that my fellow workers were concerned about me, I am a popular and hardworking member of their team, she said, although that isn’t how I ever saw things. But anyway, I was told to take some time off and come here because they want me back happy and healthy. So that’s the story, what do we do now that I’ve told you all there is to say? I do want to cooperate with you, but I can’t see the relevance of that at all. I am quite uncomfortable talking about that stuff, but OK, it makes sense that the tantrum came from somewhere and you are the expert so what do you want to know?
I have never mentioned this to anyone before and it seems so wrong to be even sitting here with you, but the dreams have got bad and I don’t sleep well anymore. really, you want to know what I dream about, that’s a bit silly isn’t it? Well, OK if you are sure I’m not wasting your time. There’s one that I had last week, I can remember it quite clearly. In the dream, I’m walking down the road on a lovely sunny day and everything looks pretty, flowers by the road and birds singing in the trees, it’s late spring, warm and comfortable, the day couldn’t be more perfect. I am wearing a pretty, frilly party dress, which is odd because I didn’t wear one like it. I’m about eight years old. But I gradually become aware that something isn’t quite right, and the feeling grows. It isn’t something I can put my finger on at first just that vague idea – if anything it could be too perfect.
Then there’s a smell, but not really a smell, it is like things are in dreams, you know, when you understand something but it looks different, and it’s bad. It’s then that I look down and there’s a stain on my dress and my shoes are dirty, I look back at where I’ve been and there’s a trail of dirt behind me on the footpath. I feel sick and I realise I am enormously fat, you know, my tummy, thighs and bum, that’s when the terror starts in my chest like there’s a heavy weight on me and the breath won’t come, I want to scream then, shout for help, to get mum to rescue me. But I know it’s a dream and there is nowhere to escape to, I am truly alone.
I am unable to do anything to change what is happening and the road has become like an escalator carrying me along towards something terrible that I can’t avoid, I’m dirty and no matter how hard I rub the stains won’t go and everything else still looks perfect apart from these details and the feeling. I woke up in a sweat and short of breath, gasping and terrified. The light stays on all night in my room and has done for quite a while now.
Yes, the dreams are bad, but I could have put up with them. I’m sure the anti-depressants would have helped eventually, but there’s also the difficulties I experience with men, you know, sexually and relationships. If it was only once then perhaps you could put it down to bad luck, but every time I met someone and decided to get to know them, I’d get the same reaction. At first it seemed to go OK we’d chat and have a laugh for the first couple of dates and then they’d go weird. I do my best, but I can’t get past the walls they put up. So, I gave up on dating.
And as for sex, well that’s another thing, I think I’m open and reasonably easy going, but they all say I’m uptight and cold in the bedroom. My last partner, for example, we were together for a couple of years on and off, he was so unfeeling in bed and it shouldn’t be like that should it? Well he said that it was down to me and he had never been called pushy or aggressive before.
I mean, surely it’s OK if I don’t feel like it sometimes, that doesn’t mean I’m unresponsive. He always wanted to do weird things that I don’t like, not everyone does those things I’m sure. Apparently, there was a time after we had been to a party, just after we’d met, he kept saying I was totally different that time, really sexy. But I don’t remember it happening and I suspect he was lying to get me to do those things I hate.
What things? Specifically, you mean? He wanted to, you know, put his head down there and use his tongue. I know that it is something that some people do, but if I don’t like it then that should be OK I think. It’s not a nice thing to do is it? And he wanted me to put his in my mouth, well I tried once and it made me choke so I didn’t want to do it again. In fact, it made me feel really afraid, powerless.
Can we stop talking about this now, it makes me feel very uncomfortable. He was really persistent about it though, and I hate him because I started to wonder if there was something wrong with me. In the end I told him to leave and never come back and he did.