Like Ahashverosh, I can’t sleep, despite only having slept about six hours out of the last forty or so. I forgot to take my tablets after shul (synagogue) this morning (yesterday morning I should say, really) and forgot to take them tonight as well after being out for dinner. I finally took them about 1.00am, but they don’t seem to have made me sleepy yet. They aren’t sleeping tablets, of course, but they usually make me tired (for much of the day, probably). Here are a few thoughts that were going around my head while I was getting ready for bed and/or while I was lying in bed trying to sleep:
I feel that so much of my life over the last twenty years or so (the time that I’ve been depressed) has been trying to understand myself. In therapy, on my blogs and, less healthy, in endless introspection and repetitive, circular thoughts. Actually, it’s more that therapy and blogging are attempts to stop the repetitive thoughts and turn the circular thoughts into some kind of linear thought (linear, but going where?). I don’t understand much of my life, but particularly about my social life, constantly complaining that I don’t have friends and a romantic partner, but also running away from them, finding social contact frightening and draining, but also exhilarating at times, wanting love and intimacy, but being terrified of them, experiencing aching loneliness as the constant backdrop of my life, wanting to escape it, but fearing there will be nothing left of me if I do.
The excitement of the potential autism diagnosis is that it explains so much of this mystery. I constantly see more aspects of personality in a new light, more puzzles solved. Hence the fear that I could be told (for the third time) that I’m not autistic and will have to start the search for meaning all over again. For instance, I could understand that social anxiety made socialising with strangers hard, but I could never quite understand why socialising with friends left me drained even when I enjoyed it. Now, of course, I realise that any kind of social contact, not to mention being in a public space like a restaurant or museum (popular places to socialise for me) is terribly draining for someone on the autism spectrum.
The other thing that I ruminate over (‘obsess over’ might be more accurate, in a borderline clinical sense) is my own sense of inadequacy and sinfulness. This, I hasten to say, is not very Jewish. Judaism has a reasonably positive view of human nature and a pragmatic approach to sin: it happens, we can use it to repent and grow. But I obsess over my mistakes, beat myself up for falling into the same traps again and again, blame myself, devise plans for improvement that never work and so on. Because ultimately my worst sins, the ones I beat myself up about the most, stem from that same aching loneliness, the chasm or void at the centre of my life or even at the centre of my soul. My therapist has told me that I don’t do anything wrong by secular standards. My rabbi mentor says I’m a good person with a one or two challenges. I feel that some people at least would be understanding and sympathetic, that they would note the void in my life and say that it’s not unreasonable that a normal person would try to fill it, even in somewhat dysfunctional ways, that I could be doing much worse things instead. And yet. And yet. I can’t shake the feeling of sinful inadequacy, even though that very feeling is part of the aching void, such that beating myself up makes me more likely to fall victim to the same emotions again and again.
Somewhat related to this: lately when lying in bed trying to sleep, I have found myself imagining a presence with me. Not a religious feeling. Imagining – in a non-sexual way – that I’m in bed with my wife and that she is speaking reassuringly to me, telling me that I’m doing well in coping with my issues, that I shouldn’t blame myself for falling, that she would still love and accept me despite my failures. I am not sure what to make of this. It’s good that I can voice some positive, supportive statements about myself now, even if I have to put them into someone else’s mouth to accept them. But I worry about creating a fantasy life that I can’t escape from, that I am getting my hopes up by making myself believe I will find a supportive wife when I will possibly (probably? I don’t know, it seems like that) not get married at all. I worry that I’ve created a pliable fantasy partner who has no needs and just exists to boost my ego, which is very unhealthy. And I still struggle to believe that God could think any of that positive stuff about me.
So, that’s what’s in my head tonight/this morning. It’s 4.00am and I don’t feel remotely tired, perhaps just a little agitated. Not quite sure what to do now.