(My last public post got eight likes.  Not much, I know, but I think it’s a record for me.)

I’m just back from shiur (religious class) and I’m still trying to process what happened.  It triggered a lot of social anxiety.

First, everyone was sitting around noshing, drinking whisky and bantering (I’m not sure why whisky seems to be served at all these things; this is why I don’t believe the stereotype that Jews don’t drink).  I couldn’t do any of this because I’m trying not to eat junk food except on Shabbat (the Sabbath) because I’m putting on weight from my medication (which means I’ve cut out about the only simple pleasure I had left, hooray!), I don’t drink because alcohol is a depressant and I shouldn’t take it with my meds, but the real reason is that alcohol scares me and always has (same as I don’t drive because cars scare me) and I couldn’t banter because I was too shy and self-conscious.  At some point around this time I became (self-)conscious of being the only person in the room not married with children (not strictly true as one person is divorced, I think, but almost).  Also, I got very sweaty on the Tube today and didn’t have time to shower when I got home and so was feeling very self-conscious and glad no one was sitting too close to me… or maybe that was why no one was sitting too close to me…

Then during the shiur the assistant rabbi asked a question that he was sure no one would be able to answer.  He was so sure we wouldn’t be able to answer it, he promised to pay £50 to tzedaka (charity) if someone did.  I knew the answer.  So after that I felt bad, that maybe I had been showing off (cf. my recent comments about not knowing when I can show off) and I had cost him money and maybe I should have stayed silent.  And he made a big thing of me knowing things.  I feel inadequate when I assume people think I’m ignorant and stupid, but when I do show some knowledge, I just feel embarrassed.  The assistant rabbi apologised to me at the end, but I was having a small social anxiety panic and couldn’t actually hear what he was apologising for.  I guess he was worried he embarrassed me.  I just nodded and said I was fine, which is what I always do when people apologise to me, even when I’m not fine.

The point of the shiur turned out to be about wanting to reveal God to the world through all our actions and I felt that I used to want that, but nowadays I just want to get married, have kids and be happy.  This left me feeling even more depressed, inadequate and guilty.  Plus, talk of Olam HaBa (the Next World i.e. the afterlife) just makes me think again that I have no share in Olam HaBa.  I don’t really have any rational reason to believe this, beyond a general sense of guilt and shame about my life as well as guilt and shame about specific thoughts, words and deeds, plus an intuition that nothing good could ever happen to someone like me.  On the way home I wondered if I lived in another universe where I was really suffering and this world is the solipsistic fantasy life I have constructed to escape, but it would have to be a pretty awful ‘real’ life if this one is better.  Or maybe I just have a poor imagination.

I was actually feeling OK at work today, but I seem to have come right down now.

There’s another educational event at shul (synagogue) tomorrow evening.  I wanted to go, but I’m so burnt out from work that I think I’d better stay at home and read, or else I’m likely to burn out and miss shul on Saturday.  Tonight has just been the last straw.  There’s an oneg (Shabbat party thing) next week.  I don’t know if I’ll go to that.  I half promised myself that I wouldn’t go to any more of those, because I just sit there feeling socially awkward and miserable, not wanting to eat too much because of my weight, not drinking, sometimes not knowing the tunes to join in the singing.  There’s a guest speaker, but he’s a journalist and a lawyer and I’m not that interested in what he might say.  I had told myself that maybe I won’t force myself to go to shul social events if I go to more educational ones, but now I might be skipping tomorrow’s educational event anyway.  I’m torn between guilt for not going to these things and the awkwardness and anxiety that inevitably follows if I do go.  The depression comes either way.

In other news, I tried several times again to phone the rabbi about the date he was supposed to set up, twice during my lunch break and once after work in the hope that maybe he answers the phone during the daytime, but no answer.  I eventually left a message for him, but I did that during the week and he didn’t get back to me.  Judging favourably, he either has some major crisis or he’s lost his phone.  Either way, I emailed the person who originally tried to set me up on the date to see if she could at least tell the potential date that I’m interested, I just don’t know how to contact her (I was worried she might think I was ignoring her or had changed my mind about going out), but I haven’t heard anything back yet.  I have a suspicion that this is going to be yet another potential date that falls through.  I suppose I should just be thankful that people are trying to set me up on dates even if none of them work out.


2 thoughts on “Shul and More Social Anxiety

  1. ” I wondered if I lived in another universe where I was really suffering and this world is the solipsistic fantasy life I have constructed to escape, but it would have to be a pretty awful ‘real’ life if this one is better.”………

    Oh my, I do this so much – am writing a ‘for my own eyes only’ bunch of stories based on the one life in alternate universes(based in part on me)

    ” Or maybe I just have a poor imagination.”…….well,as the saying goes, ‘no way, José’. If you have a poor imagination, well, I’m Xena, Warrior Princess……

    Shabbat shalom and be well, my friend

    PS this…..”glad no one was sitting too close to me… or maybe that was why no one was sitting too close to me…”……just one Wee example of that (often self-deprecating)humour I love in your writing……


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