What a stupid injury. What a stupid response. I think it is true that a person's character--true character--is revealed in the way she deals with setbacks. I am not someone who deals well with setbacks. One setback in one aspect of my life is capable of seeping into others; somehow, the fact that my right knee is injured has become an excuse for why I have dropped the ball on the thesis, decreased my intensity. I can't go to the library, I say; it's too painful to walk to the station, etc. And since the house next to mine is undergoing renovations, it's too noisy for me to work at home. Hence we're almost at the end of January and I've only revised two chapters--and I've just about finished the substantive revision to Chapter 3.
I feel I am trapped in a nightmare of my own making. Virtually every day is the same: the same half-hearted goal, the same thorough failure to achieve it. Any wonder now that I almost need running? Sticking to the training plan gave me structure to my days, my life, and working towards a short-term goal gives me an instant gratification that almost--but not quite--makes up for the abject lack of it over the past three years.
Whenever I start talking like this, E tries to get me to see the positives. I had a paper accepted, he said. Didn't that make you feel good?
The trouble with such things is that...or rather, the trouble with me is that these moments of satisfaction don't last, and they come and go quickly like a sense of deja vu and a memory that you can't quite grasp. In contrast, the sense of lacking purpose, of ennui, of dissatisfaction, sometimes mild, sometimes intense, have lingered in varying degrees over the past 3 years. That is my constant, not the satisfaction at having a paper accepted.
This will change once the PhD is done. At least, it will for a while before I start to tackle the daunting question of whatever the fuck comes next? I don't even want to think about it.
I just don't think it is normal for me to be my age and struggling with life. It's not just that it's not normal; it is not desirable, it is not respectable, and I feel like a lesser person because of it. Perhaps this is the cause of the way that I have been feeling for the past few months, the lack of enthusiasm, the lack of deisre to do anything, being mildly content not going out, and worst of all, the lack of effort into my appearance. I can't be bothered, these days, to buy new clothes because where am I going to wear it to? More fundamentally, I don't care about how I look because it doesn't matter. And this isn't some self-affirming confidence that I suddenly possess; it's quite the opposite in fact.
It is because I feel unattractive because useless and a lesser person as mentioned in the previous paragraph that I don't think it matters whether or not I put any effort into my appearance. Did I not say before that the moment I should be worried about my mental health is when I stop caring about how I look? Perhaps I should be worried then. But I just have neither the time nor energy for that.
I spent the past few days in Cambridge because I needed a break from the attenuated rest of my place in London due to the renovation going on next door that actually went on until 10pm on some days. (They seemed to have stopped this after I went over one evening because I was sick of it and told them nicely to try not to go on too late, and I have also complained to the council who has sent them another email. Oh wait, I have mentioned this already in the previous substantive entry. Okay.)
Cambridge was a nice break. I met with Raffie for dinner on Monday and Ivan on Tuesday. E and I have also started watching the Netflix series, You. Despite the fact that we both weren't sold about the show after the first two episodes, we continued watching them anyway on subsequent nights. And now I'm looking forward to him coming this weekend so that we can continue hate-watching it. Seriously, it's one of the lamest shows I've seen in a while. At this point, I'm convinced that it's simply engaging in self-parody because no one can actually think that this is a good show. It's so bad that it's good because it's so bad that it's hilarious. I am also positive that the book it's based on is terribly written as well.
On another note, while having a drink (well, I had water; can't drink because on ibuprofen) with Ivan at the Pick, I saw Gareth sitting somewhere at the back, reading and having some beer. I'd already spotted him when I scouted the back for an empty table, but didn't say hi because what for? I avoided looking in his direction when I went to the toilet, but couldn't do the same when heading back to where Ivan was because he was in my direct line of sight. He sort of waved, and I sort of went over like I was on auto-pilot and made small talk of no consequence.
He showed me his copy of Julian Barnes's The Sense of an Ending. 'I thought about you,' he said.
He asked me why I was limping. I asked what he was reading. I didn't know what it was, or much cared; then I said I was with a friend and left, and that was that.
The thing is, it's never really just that, at least not in the immediate aftermath, not when you run into someone who treated you badly. For a while, he was at the back of my mind when I was talking to Ivan, and involuntarily, I pictured him coming up to me, putting a hand on my shoulder in the way that a man would to the woman that he's with. Absolution, vindication, validation. I made a mistake; that was what I'd wanted him to think, or to feel, or both. I passed up on something good and now I regret it.
What does it matter to me, whether he regrets it or not? He was never going to be my long-term plan; I would have been too selfish to deal with his mental illness. He was too depressing, too lacking in energy, too self-absorbed, too poor. I understood why he ended it the way that he did, and I tried to be the bigger person, forgave him, got over it.
Do we ever truly and fully forgive, though? I understood why he did what he did, but I cannot deny that a part of me--the vindictive, hateful part--hoped that he's still single and alone because he deserves it.
What do I deserve, as someone who thought that? Do I deserve someone like E, who takes care of me and enjoys it because it is just who he is? Or do I deserve to be alone, festering in my bitterness? Does E deserve to be with someone who doesn't infect his life with negativity the way that I am sure I have?
In the immediate aftermath of this brief encounter with Gareth, I imagined, fleetingly, his regret; a text message, perhaps. Then the realisation that this part of me still sought validation, even from someone who doesn't matter anymore, and had never really mattered all that much, just because of the wrong that he'd committed against me.
Be the bigger person. Let it go. It does not matter.
But it is hard to remain steadfast in being the person that I know I should be, when it seems like I am constantly fighting against the weakness of my character.
Lastly, an illuminating conversation with Raffie about somene from my past. Bernard Williams, he said, once said that if someone has to ask the question 'why be moral?', then he is not engaging in the conversation on the same terms; he does not have the requisite constitution to engage in the conversation.
Too true. Too true.