(Sticking with the fourth Doctor quote theme from yesterday)
I struggled to get to sleep, being upset from what had happened earlier, and then had a disturbing dream. I was working or (more likely) doing work experience somewhere for a week. I can’t remember what the job was exactly, but it was some kind of creative work. On my last day, all my colleagues mocked me for my incompetence. I had done everything wrong, including misunderstanding an article by a famous writer even though I should have known his political views and realised I was misrepresenting them. I think I ran away and was possibly pursued by my colleagues. I asked why they kept giving me creative jobs if they could see that I’m not creative, but there was no answer. Obviously there’s a lot of work anxiety in there (my real-life contract ends next week and the famous writer in the dream is one associated with that job), but also social anxiety and anxiety about my ability to be creative as I start the third draft of my Doctor Who book. Perhaps there’s some political anxiety too.
7.30am Despite disturbed sleep, I got to shul (synagogue) for Shacharit (morning prayers) and the Megillah (Book of Esther) reading. I was a few minutes late for Shacharit, which I suppose was partly intentional as I’m out of the habit of davening (praying) the whole of Shacharit and was apprehensive about being there for the whole service. I did hear the whole of the Megillah though. I had the same OCD anxiety as last night about hearing every word as per halakhah (Jewish law), but I think I heard everything without having to repeat anything. I actually felt quite tense and anxious as it went on, worrying that the noise would stop me hearing everything. I think it was probably low blood sugar as I hadn’t eaten breakfast beforehand (really one should not eat before praying, although I usually do because I’m too depressed and exhausted otherwise, but I was trying to be good today), especially as I had some social anxiety after the service. I felt better after breakfast.
2.00pm I went to my Dad’s shul for Mincha (the afternoon service) because the service in my shul was in our weekday premises (the shteible, a small room rented in a larger shul, itself above Tesco). In three years, I had never been to the shteible; I’ve had social anxiety about going in by myself and have been putting off going (more on this below), so I went to my Dad’s shul, which was also less far to walk.
4.30pm I was invited out for Purim seudah (meal) at friends from shul, really my closest friend in the area. I knew all of the men there from shul; the women were mostly their wives. I had a good time and even joined in the conversation/banter a bit, but I did get overwhelmed with the noise at times. I had moments when I felt, “Yes, I can fit in in a frum society, I can “speak Torah” intelligently and make appropriate jokes,” but at other times, I felt that I didn’t fit in with aspects of frum society. I guess I’ll never completely fit in anywhere. That’s probably that’s another reason I’m desperate to find a wife who matches me, so that at least I will have someone like me, and then we can try to raise kids with our values. Still, no one tried to encourage (or “encourage”) me to drink (it is customary on Purim afternoon to get drunk, although Judaism being Judaism there is much dispute about what “customary” and “drunk” mean… amusingly, I got a job email today looking for a Research Coordinator at somewhere called “The Institute Of Alcohol Studies” which was appropriate).
7.40pm Around this time we had finished eating, but hadn’t bentsched (said grace after meals) yet. I was going to ask if we could bentsch and I could go, as I was getting exhausted and ‘peopled out,’ but I didn’t really have the confidence to show that I was flagging, plus I guessed the men would be going on to Ma’ariv (the evening service) and I thought it would look bad if I disappeared just before then. I decided to make the most of it and use it as a chance to go to the shteible with other people and see what it was like. We walked there, as, while no one was drunk drunk, no one able to drive was sober enough to do so safely. Ma’ariv was fine and then I walked home. My Mum said that I looked happy and had had a very full and successful day. I think I felt that, but it’s hard to be sure, as I second-guess and over-analyse myself so much and struggle to identify my emotions (alexithymia).
Other things than noise and social interactions that my autistic brain couldn’t cope with today: a training video for safeguarding children (for my volunteering) that played distracting music in the background while people were talking; and a job application that wanted me to “be willing to accept ‘change’ as part of the daily routine.” The latter sounds profoundly disturbing to me, but it, or things like it, seem to be a common job requirement, like “being a good team player” (again, not always good for autistic or socially anxious people) and being “highly motivated” (not so good with depression). I probably ought to be a hermit, or a lighthouse-keeper.
On days like today, when everything is going reasonably well, and I feel, if not happy, then at least content and not depressed or anxious, and I even go to shul and feel a part of a community, then I can say that God is merciful and everything is for the best in the long-run, and I can accept my suffering and willingly go into the valley of the shadow of death for Him. It’s only the rest of the time, when I’m despairing and anxious and lonely and cut off from everyone that I can’t bear it. In other words, I can bear my suffering except for when I’m actually suffering. Unfortunately, the times when I’m suffering far outnumber the times when I’m not suffering.
That said, I feel a bit down about the way that my family interprets my words and sometimes my body language as angry and aggressive when that is not my intention. This has happened regularly since childhood. This is also common with autism, I believe, but happens with neurotypical people too. It’s upsetting, though, especially as I really do get irritable more than I should because of depression and the strain of masking all my problems in public, as well as my autistic communication problems with my Dad. There is a lot more to talk about regarding my relationship with my family, and the extent to which I’m trying to run away from it/them by getting married, but I can’t really talk about it here; it’s one reason I want to go back to my psychodynamic psychotherapist. I want to make things right, but I don’t know how and I worry it’s not just a problem of human weakness of the kind most people experience (irritability, anger), but of the cognitive and experiential differences between me and my family.
Peopled out now, need a shower and autistic alone time with Quatermass and the Pit before bed or I won’t sleep…