I feel a lot better today. Going to my well-being group helped a bit, as did realising yesterday that what happened (telling my line manager about my issues and going home early) was probably for the best. Although I had a terrible time at work yesterday and spent much of the evening feeling exhausted and shaky, it was probably just as well that my line manager is now aware of my issues and it’s definitely good that she is supportive. She also said (which I think I forgot to write yesterday) that I am doing well especially considering that she essentially threw a lot of new tasks and procedures at me in the space of three or four working days (because my contract is only for short periods for financial reasons, so she wanted to cover a lot of induction very quickly), which was good to hear.
That said, I still struggled when I woke up this morning. I actually woke up at 5.30am and felt OK, but it seemed silly to get up so early, so I went back to sleep. When I woke up again at 8.30am, however, I was exhausted and depressed. Now, post-well-being group, I’m very tired, but my mood is OK.
The afternoon was spent doing some chores, mainly writing important emails, and looking at some mental health apps that were suggested in my well-being course. These afternoons after well-being course are hard, as I’m very drained and don’t really want to do anything, but am reluctant to vegetate in front of the TV all afternoon and instead try to do some things, but I often end up neither achieving very much nor relaxing very much either.
This is something I’ve been thinking about recently that may come across as strange, but it’s been bothering me. I worry that people think I’m not going to like or approve of them for religious reasons, when in reality I don’t think like that. I know that most frum (religious Orthodox) Jews socialise mainly with other frum Jews. I’m unusual in that I have non-frum and non-Jewish friends, mostly because I’m involved in non-frum ‘spaces’ be they Doctor Who fandom, depression and autism and support groups (real-world and online) or people from my university days. A lot of these people have lifestyles or life-choices that would not be considered acceptable in the frum world, particularly regarding gender and sexuality issues. That doesn’t bother me particularly (I pride myself on being non-judgemental, although I’m probably open to the accusation that I’m “collecting” unusual people to prove to myself how open-minded I am), but I worry that people see my kippah (skullcap) and get nervous of talking to me. This could be my paranoia, though.
I’m not sure what I can do about it, short of wearing a t-shirt that says, “I’m religious, but really non-judgemental”. I guess this is why I’m thinking of writing that book on Orthodox Judaism. Judaism seems to be a much misunderstood religion/culture, partly because there are so few Jews (only about fourteen million globally, more than half of them in Israel) so that many people, even in the Western world, have never met one, certainly not a frum Jew; partly because of the legacy of millennia of antisemitism; and partly because Judaism is a non-missionary religion, so we generally don’t bother explaining ourselves to non-Jews unless actively forced to by some kind of antisemitic attack. Even non-religious Jews can be surprisingly misinformed or ignorant about traditional Judaism.
At well-being group today we used a “decisional balance model” to make decisions. This is basically a pretentious name for a pros and cons list, albeit carefully done to include the consequences of inaction as well as action, which I don’t always think to do. I tried to look at whether I should be dating. There were more cons than pros, but the pros, if they happened, would be life-changingly good, whereas the cons were more trivial, or inevitable e.g. rejection from a break-up is not that different to rejection from a crush and as I get crushes all the time (and go back to adolescence or university to revisit old crushes in my head if I don’t have a ‘current’ crush) I think objectively the pros are greater than the cons. However, I still struggle to believe someone would want to date me with all my issues and precarious financial state.
While doing this I had the paradigm shift moment that dating probably isn’t going to work for me right now because dating in the frum community is strictly for marriage (certainly in the more Charedi (ultra-Orthodox) world and even to some extent in the Modern Orthodox world), whereas I want to just date for a period of months and get to know someone and experience being with someone as in secular dating, but without the physical side of things, which will hopefully help me feel better and experience more what a relationship with that person would be like. I might be able to find some more ‘modern,’ but still Orthodox, women here who are more willing to date as an end in itself for a while, but I’m not sure (my sister told me one of her not-so-frum friends used the service). I guess I worry that frum women would be pushing me to marry quickly (maybe not in eight dates, but within a few months) whereas not-so-frum women won’t be a good match and would want to be more physical. Plus almost any woman my age is going to be conscious of her biological clock ticking and wanting to move things on from that point of view.
I worry that even then I feel I would be inadequate. I think, for now, I should wait and see what happens when my contract ends in March. My line manager hinted yesterday that she would like to extend my contract IF the money is available, which is always the big if in higher education. I think if I had a permanent job, even if it was part-time, then it would be worth looking to meet someone. That said, I do think that my girlfriend/wife would have to be super-understanding to put up with all my issues (psychological/emotional, autistic, financial) and I don’t think I can offer an equal amount in return. I suppose she might have big issues of her own, but I wonder how well I could cope with them. My Mum and my aunt like to joke about their husbands really being one of their children, but I think in my case it would be uncomfortably near to the truth.
An example of more practical issues I struggle with: I just had to ask my Dad for help with my payslip and I’ve had to email payroll to find out the answers to questions that neither of us could answer. I hope I’m not being stupid. I can imagine the payroll team laughing at my ignorance. I think that I’m a lot worse with money than I previously thought I was. Because I don’t spend much, I convinced myself that I’m OK with money, which I’m probably not, or not necessarily; I just don’t see the point of spending it in large amounts because the things I like to buy (books and DVDs, basically) can often be bought really cheaply second-hand or in sales, remaindered bookshops and the like. But I’m not sure that I’m actually that good about handling it.
Like E., Dad was surprised that I can’t remember my salary in my previous jobs. Numbers do not stick in my brain, or not easily. In one job I can only remember the gross monthly salary; in another the hourly rate; in a third, nothing clearly at all. Autistic people are stereotypically good with numbers, so this may not be an excuse for me this time; on the other hand, they are stereotypically disorganised (which wasn’t true for me for a long time, but has become more so lately) and have difficulty being motivated to deal with things that don’t interest them (e.g. my finances) so that could be the solution. I do worry how I will cope when my parents are not here.
Mind you, I can’t remember the make of my phone and how to download apps, so there’s definitely a sense in which this could be general vagueness about things that don’t interest me rather than specific vagueness about money in particular.