All this felt like a defeat. It felt like I’d been forced into some sort of retreat. Of course, I continued battling against The Immediate, but news was trickling in of some sort of disaster that had befallen our forces somewhere in an obscure and distant land. Nobody could work out exactly what had happened or what the significance was, or what the repercussions would be. Does that make sense? In other words, it was a feeling, not a thought, one I wasn’t properly aware of for years.
I can remember some moments when defeat was undeniable. I can remember being literally on my knees before Lulu, clinging to her skirt, begging for forgiveness, while an incredulous friend looked on. (We were all drunk.) That was humiliating!
A more subtle image of defeat stands out in my relationship with Jo. It is the moment when, teaching English, I realised that I just couldn’t get all my work done. I had to ask Jo to help me. I was mortified. I had never asked before, although she was aware I was struggling. She had been reluctant to help, because she didn’t have the time. She was far busier than me, and was already bringing in more money, so it should have been my job to support her. Yet I was so overwhelmed I had to throw myself on her mercy. I couldn’t think of anything else to do. It was a surrender. I was raising my hands in despair.
It was galling because I knew I could’ve managed my workload much better. I was disorganised and inefficient, as Jo often pointed out to me. At work, I couldn’t prioritise between the trivial but achievable and the truly vital, or perhaps I hid myself away, preoccupied by the trivial but achievable, to avoid the panic of confronting the truly vital.
This meant I had to bring home an impossible amount of work, each night, which left me too exhausted to work efficiently the next day. In therapies of various sorts, it has sometimes been suggested, in mitigation of my crapness, that perhaps I suffer from mild dyslexia and/or mild ADHD. Was this a symptom?