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I couldn’t wait to leave school because I didn’t fit in and the thought of staying on for an additional 2 years to do ‘A’ Levels filled me with dread. I didn’t put very much effort into my ‘O’ Levels or CSE’s (as they were known back then in the 80’s), and I came out of school with low grades. I was counting the days until I left because all through school, senior, junior and infant school, I felt uncomfortable around all the other kids. I found making friends very difficult, I found maintaining and keeping friends very difficult – I just didn’t fit in.
I almost fell out of the door of school and into work and a part-time college course in business and admin. I was out of school and putting it all behind me, but I very quickly was not enjoying college or employment. I loved the course and the job, but I felt very uncomfortable – I didn’t fit in; I couldn’t easily socialise with people; I did socialise, and drank a lot to ‘loosen up’, but there was always this discomfort which I thought was ‘them’, but it was me – I didn’t fit in.
I came out of college with a ‘not-very-qualified’ certificate and found a full-time job in an office which comes with all the ramifications of office politics and work-place bullying. I hated it, but struggled and pushed through. I was fighting, enduring, miserable. It didn’t seem to matter that I was super-efficient I just didn’t ‘get’ the people. I drank and smoked heavily. I worked hard and played harder. I was miserable and putting on a mask of – of what? The mask of ‘nobody is going to EVER get the better of me’. I drank to give me some release from the uptight-ness of living, and to fight another day.
I met a man I didn’t like, married him and had 2 kids. I got out of the marriage as quickly as possible; I thought it was his fault, but it was me – I couldn’t adjust to being married, or being with him. I kept the kids because they were mine and no-one else wanted them, but they were a total bind, so I drank to give me some release – I didn’t fit in with being married or being a mom, and I blamed it all on everyone else and my circumstances.
I lived in a village full of ‘married people’. I didn’t fit in because I was the ‘single-parent’. They all looked down their well moisturised noses at me, and I thought they were all totally up themselves. I didn’t fit in. I dreaded going to the school bus stop in the morning and afternoon to collect my kids, because then I’d have to see ‘them’ – the other mummies standing round in a circle with their arms folded talking about what they cooked for tea, and where their husbands take them when they go to restaurants/holidays/Christmas. I didn’t have any of that and they made me feel like the outsider – I didn’t fit in.
When my kids’ friends came round to play I hated it. They’d have tea with us, sleepovers and birthday parties and I died a million deaths when I’d got someone else’s children in my house for me to look after – I didn’t enjoy looking after my own kids, let alone someone else’s, and yet when my kids went round their friends to play, the other parents made it all look effortless. My kids enjoyed being round someone else’s house and this caused all sorts of problems with jealousies and friendship fallouts – I hated it all so I drank myself to oblivion. I didn’t fit in.
I dreaded going to the school for Nativity or Easter or school fetes. I got out of it as often as I could, much to the dismay of my daughter who really wanted to attend all these things. I couldn’t face seeing all the other happy ‘getting on with it’ parents. When I did go I stood or sat alone – no-one to go with, no-one to sit with. I never danced with my children; I never had a connection with any of the other parents and I don’t do ‘small talk’. I thought they were all idiots. I didn’t fit in.
I went to college and did an Access Course to High Education so I could go to university. I loved the course work but hated the other students. I didn’t fit in. I went to university for 3 years full-time. Dreaded it every day; dreaded sitting in a classroom or lecture theatre with ‘other’ students, and the practical sessions were a total killer. I didn’t fit in.
I got my first degree and took 2 years out of education to drink myself stupid. At work, at home, in the car, in the middle of the night, first thing in the morning, in the middle of the afternoon, outside the school gates – as long as I was awake I drank. The walls were closing in.
I can see that I was putting ‘the cart before the horse’ with a lot of things; I didn’t leave my life in God’s hands; I took control and made decisions on everything, which wound me up in a whole load of conflict all of the time.
In recovery I’ve learned how not to drink, let go, trust God and change my thinking, attitude and behaviour (only a tiny bit at a time), but I still struggle with life on life’s terms. I just don’t get it. I still don’t really fit in at work or in groups, but I now know that it is my illness which is causing this, not everyone else.
I’ve achieved a Master’s degree, but I still found being around other people on the course difficult even though I wasn’t drinking; and I didn’t get very good grades while I was doing the coursework, I failed a lot of the assessments because I’m really not very good even though I worked hard, but I persevered to the end and attended my second graduation ceremony at 3 and a half years sober.
Looking back, I’d love for my life to have had a more Good Orderly Direction, but I’ve only got today, so practising it now is more important.
ED: And that is the incomparable beauty of our Fellowship, Karen, we ALL fit in!