I made some mistakes at work again. They weren’t really awful, in the grand scheme of things, but I probably beat myself up about them more than I should. One of the students said I had a bad attitude. I suspect she was projecting her own anger and bad attitude onto me, but I felt guilty in case she was right and my tone of voice was harsher than I intended. This does happen to me sometimes, probably a lot more when I was a child. I understand that it’s another Asperger’s/autism trait. Poor executive function (another Asperger’s issue) has been a problem at work lately too. I used to think that this wasn’t a problem for me, but now I increasingly suspect it is. I know I’m indecisive, but I thought that was just my personality, but it could be the Asperger’s. More pertinently, while I’m very self-motivated, I do find it hard to get down to things and to switch from one thing to another. It’s another reason I hate being on the issue desk, because I will be doing some work and then a student will come up and ask a question or return a book and I have to go back and forth from one task to another, involving a multitude of windows and programs on my computer and I get lost. I worry that I made a fool of myself to my boss today getting confused when switching windows and doing different tasks while we were working on something together on my computer.
Then WordPress recommended one far-right antisemitic blog and one far-left anti-Zionist/borderline antisemitic blog to me. I think WordPress’ recommendation algorithm picked up the word ‘Jews’ and decided they must be like my blog. This stuff upsets me more than it should. I should be immune to antisemitism by now, having experienced so much of it, but it always gets to me. I think it’s the injustice of it that hurts me, because unlike other unjustified criticism (e.g. that student who thought I had a bad attitude) I don’t really worry that it might be true (well, maybe some anti-Zionist criticism, but not the blog that argued that Donald Trump is a puppet of the international Jewish conspiracy and will convert to Judaism any day now). Anyway, I don’t want to make this into a political blog, so I’ll stop there, but I can internal-monologue on this for hours (Asperger’s again). Sigh. As an aside, there don’t seem to be many Jewish blogs on WordPress, judging by the blogs I get recommended and the people who follow my blog, who seem to come mainly via recommendations on WordPress, so far as I can tell. Few people seem to come here from my comments on Hevria.
I’ve had a few things I’ve wanted to blog about the last few days, but I haven’t really had the time with Chanukah and work. I’ve been at my parents’ house for ‘candle’ lighting every night (candle in inverted commas because I actually use olive oil lamps). This has been good but it takes a whole chunk out of my evening. I’m desperately trying to get to the end of term in one piece. I’ve just got to get through two ‘proper’ work days and one staff development day, then I have thirteen days off. Thirteen days to sleep in and to work on my Doctor Who book and maybe do some of the exercising and cooking I have been neglecting lately, but also thirteen days to potentially be depressed and lonely – the depression, loneliness and self-loathing have been lurking in the background again lately. I’ve been using very negative self-talk in my internal monologues again. I don’t think I ever stopped really, but I think I might have done it less for a bit, but am doing more again. I’m calling myself a “freak” a lot again, thinking I’ll never get married (the shadchan (matchmaker) I contacted never got back to me). My parents were all excited that they have three weddings of friends’ children to go to next year and it was hard for me not to say something inappropriate about how depressed they were making me feel. At least my sister’s marriage is out of the way, but I still need to deal with my friend’s wedding next year. It’s a year (pretty much exactly) since I last felt suicidal, but I was feeling a bit that way today. Not that I actually wanted to kill myself, but that I wished I wasn’t here. The pure O (obsession/OCD) thoughts of throwing myself under a train, which is normally just a distraction that doesn’t bother me much somehow seem more worrying, less a fear that I will go crazy and impulsively jump for no reason and more a worry that one day I might really jump from real despair.
Anyway, what I wanted to write about tonight (this post has been a massive digression to vent so far) is something that happened at shiur tonight. I realised that I knew quite a bit, Jewishly and secularly, but that I was too scared to share it. Scared of being wrong (I did answer one question incorrectly, probably due to nerves/social anxiety as I did know the right answer), but also scared of being right and seeming ‘too clever’, like I was bullied and told off for being when I was growing up, especially if I say that someone else is wrong. Also scared of knowing something I shouldn’t. I’ll explain the last two points.
The shiur was about Chanukah. Chanukah, for those who don’t know, commemorates when the Greeks who ruled the land of Israel (actually the Seleucid (Greek-descended) rulers of Syria, but their culture was Hellenic/Greek) tried to impose Hellenic culture on the Jews there and basically destroy Judaism as a religion, or at least turn it into something less monotheistic and distinctively Jewish and more pagan and universalist. The Jews rebelled and won, purified the Temple and struggled to light the menorah (lamp) because the Greeks had defiled all the olive oil, but found a tiny jar of pure oil that miraculously burned for eight days, exactly the time needed for them to prepare more oil.
The rabbi who gave the shiur constructed a whole philosophical structure around this about Greek culture, what it was and how it compares with Jewish culture. It was interesting, but I had two problems. One was I had heard a different interpretation, probably a complementary one, I haven’t really thought it through, which I was too scared to share with people in case it looked like I was criticising the rabbi or showing off. There was also some general discussion at the end that I could have joined in with, but was scared to for the same reason. But there were also things I was scared to say for fear of showing off secular knowledge and privileging that over Torah. I wasn’t 100% convinced that his analysis of Hellenic culture fitted with what I have read in secular sources and I certainly wasn’t convinced that his analysis of Sadducee religion, which he brought in, was at all correct. The Sadducees were a Jewish sect in late antiquity. He was correct that they were heavily influenced by Hellenism, unlike the Pharisees, the ancestors of rabbinic Judaism, but I’m not convinced that they didn’t want to serve God; rather they were textual literalists who rejected the oral tradition, which isn’t the same thing to my way of thinking, even if it did lead to major differences in belief and practice from Pharisaic/rabbinic Judaism. I suppose it says something about me that I’m still thinking about this, trying to find a way to reconcile what the rabbi said with what I have read and learnt elsewhere rather than just saying he’s wrong. But I’m scared to ask the question for fear of looking too ‘modern’ and secular-influenced and for fear of looking like I’m attacking him with my degree in history (not that I studied ancient history or Jewish history at university).
I do feel that I often have things to share with people (comments, jokes, even quotations that I feel are appropriate or amusing), but I hold back for fear of what people would think. Too intellectual. Too elitist. Too geeky. Too weird. Too religious. Too secular. Too irritating. Maybe this is wrong of me. Maybe I hold too much of myself back for anyone to be able to get to know, and maybe even like, the real me, let alone to build up intimacy and friendship. But I’m too scared of rejection, from my childhood experiences and from my experiences on dates where I have opened up to women and tried to show them a bit of the real me (not the intense things I share here, but just my knowledge and personality, plus sometimes the existence of my mental health issues), only to be rejected. I know I share a lot of things here, but I think I don’t really believe that other people are going to read this when I write, at least on some level and I do hold some things back, actually in some ways more now that I know that I have more readers and I can try to predict what they want to read (so fewer irrelevant quotations from Doctor Who, for example).
It is hard to know how I can open up to more people in an appropriate way in the future. I guess this is something that the book I bought on social anxiety might be able to help me with (I haven’t started using it yet because I’ve been too busy), but I worry that the Asperger’s prevents me from judging when it is appropriate to say something and so I err on the side of caution and say nothing. I worry that this is impossible to change and so I will never fit in, make friends, find a community or get married.