I guess I’m in my anxious child mode again. Shavuot was quite good, but one day later it feels like ancient history besides work. Work at the moment is dull. I haven’t been blogging about it much because it’s persistently dull. There’s stuff that needs doing and I’m doing it, but it’s dull and no one could possibly enjoy doing it, at least, not to the extent that I’m required to do it. I tell myself that if it was fun, they wouldn’t pay me to do it. I also have to do my first exam invigilation this week, which I’m dreading, partly because I’m worried I’ll do something so disastrously wrong that the exam will be voided, all the students will be failed and the college will lose the right to hold any exams in the future, but mostly because I have to get up half an hour earlier, when I’m persistently unable to get up any earlier than I usually do. I also come home from work exhausted and depleted, which just triggers depression and anxiety.
The other reason I’m in anxious child mode is the Big Secret I’ve been alluding to in recent weeks. The secret, in case anyone didn’t guess, is that I’m in a relationship for only the second time in my life. This is very good and happiness-inducing, but also anxiety-provoking because (a) relationships are scary, (b) this is a long-distance relationship, which I’ve never had before and (c) because there’s a big difference in our respective religious levels (my girlfriend has a strong Jewish identity, she just doesn’t express it so much religiously). We set out our red lines regarding points (b) and (c) before starting the relationship and we seemed to have a basic level of compatibility, but it’s still a scary thing to go into a relationship with, particularly for someone with minimal relationship experience like me. Everything else is amazing; my girlfriend (I’ll call her E.) is everything I could have wanted: gentle, caring, intelligent, interesting and fun to talk to, understanding of my mental health and borderline Asperger’s, encouraging of my writing ambitions and, weirdly, really into me. But I still worry that nothing really good ever happens to me, that something will go wrong sooner or later.
The journey home from work turns out to be the real killer, when I’m exhausted and hungry and stressed and probably a bit dehydrated and packed into a tiny Tube train with a thousand other exhausted, hungry, stressed people, fighting for space, not to mention air… it’s easy to give in to catastrophising in such a situation. I have sufficiently little successful dating experience, or any dating experience, really, that it’s easy to convince myself that I’m feeling the ‘wrong’ thing or the ‘wrong’ amount of the ‘right’ thing. It’s a lot harder to just relax and enjoy the ride, which is what my parents and my rabbi mentor said to do (yes, my rabbi mentor has been actively encouraging me to date E., religious differences notwithstanding!).
This whole situation made me aware of an aspect of my personality that I hadn’t really noticed before. Some people are rational and some people are emotional, and in and of themselves, both modes of thought have their advantages and disadvantages. However, I’m emotional, but I’m convinced that I’m rational (or have been until the last week or so), which means that I get overwhelmed by emotional inputs (particularly due to depression, anxiety, alexithymia etc.), but I treat them as if they are rational data points. This has a particular tendency to happen on that journey home, when I start thinking, “I’m really anxious that this won’t work, therefore there must be strong logical reasons that this won’t work” or “I don’t feel as overwhelmingly ‘in love’ as I did this morning, therefore I’m not feeling anything romantic any more.” It’s rather crazy as it’s clearly being driven by my anxiety and by other factors affecting my mood (tiredness, hunger, etc.), but I’m treating it as if it’s an objective fact. I’m trying not to pay too much attention to these thoughts, but as someone who overanalyses himself, it’s hard.
If I can get through this work week, next week is half-term. I don’t have anything particularly exciting planned, aside from my Mum’s birthday dinner, but it will be good to have more time to Skype E. and to plan a trans-Atlantic trip for later in the year to meet her in person. Naturally, I’m catastrophising on that already, from “What if I get lost?” to “What if I get mugged?” to “What if E. breaks up with me and I’m left on a romantic holiday by myself?” However, trans-Atlantic trips can’t be planned at the last minute, so eventually one has to hope and pray that the relationship will last the next two and a bit months (at least).