I’m thinking of a joining a political party just so I can resign angrily from it. It looks a lot of fun.
Meanwhile, back in the real world…
Friday night was good, Saturday less so. There was circle dancing in shul during Kabbalat Shabbat (Friday night prayers) again and I didn’t feel able to join in again. I was practically the only person not joining in (the only other person was the assistant gabbai who looked like he was doing stuff for the running of the service). I don’t know why I just freeze up when this happens. I know I find it uncomfortable, but it’s hard to work out why I find it uncomfortable (social anxiety, autism or depression?) or why sometimes I can join in and once or twice I’ve even enjoyed it (I had one Simchat Torah when I enjoyed the dancing…). I just can’t do it.
(I tried to find video or even pictures of Jewish dancing because I don’t think I describe it very well. There’s surprisingly little out there. I did find one YouTube video, but it was at a wedding or bar mitzvah and rather more lively than the type of thing we have in shul, plus all the comments were rabidly antisemitic (“They’re dancing because they found a shekel… No, they’re dancing because they tricked the USA into invading another country for them…”). Even Wikipedia only has a few lines of text and a photo of Israeli, rather than frum, folk dancing.)
I got invited out at short notice to Shabbat (Sabbath) dinner by the person who sits next to me at shul (synagogue). There were two other people there. I was a bit apprehensive, but it went well. I forced myself to participate in the conversation and try to initiate conversations when I was tempted to stay quiet. I did the same thing at seudah (the third Sabbath meal in the synagogue) today. That was all good.
At dinner someone said that he studies Torah all day on Friday and Shabbat and tries to do an hour of Torah study on other days (he’s semi-retired). This surprised me a bit, as he’s teased at shul and shiur for spending hours and hours “learning” so I was surprised that his minimum for most days is something that’s not totally out of reach for me. I used to do an hour or more of Torah study a day, before my depression got bad again (that’s going back several years). I do occasionally manage it even now, but it’s usually more like half an hour or so, less when the depression is very bad. Of course, most of what I “learn” isn’t Talmud, so it has less cachet in the frum (religious Orthodox Jewish) world. I try not to care, but it’s difficult not to feel like a second-class citizen sometimes (twice in two days someone I don’t know well has decided to tell me just how much Talmud he’s studied lately). I do make sure I do some Talmud study each week, though.
I couldn’t sleep again yesterday evening despite trying to take some time to relax when I got home. After a while, I got up and started reading The Elegant Universe, a book on physics that I was given as a school prize, so you can guess how long it’s been on my shelves; long enough to go out of date, according to some of the reviews on Goodreads. I’m trying to read more non-fiction at the moment. I used to be fascinated by history, economics, physics, politics and so on, but then when I went to university I focused purely on my degree (history) and when I finished the depression made it hard to read non-fiction. I want to try to get back into reading non-fiction, not least because of the big pile of unread books that have accumulated over the years (mostly bought cheap from charity shops and library sales). At the moment I’m trying to alternate fiction and non-fiction books.
This morning I got up at 8am. I wanted to stay up and go to shul, but then I remembered that I would probably be called to the Torah if I did that and I panicked and went back to bed. I don’t know why I panicked; I’ve been called up enough times before. I think some of it is that I have low blood sugar when I wake up, which always makes depressive and anxious thoughts much, much worse. If I can figure out a way to get myself to get up and eat something straight away before deciding whether to go to shul, that might do the trick. Maybe. I don’t really know any more. I felt guilty for not going to shul, and for going back to sleep until 2pm (my parents were out for lunch so didn’t get me up). I did at least avoid falling asleep after lunch. I try to tell myself I have issues and can’t compare myself to other people, but it’s hard when I’m conscious that everyone goes to shul on Shabbat mornings.
I did some Torah study in the afternoon and went to shul for Talmud shiur, Mincha (Afternoon Prayers) seudah and Ma’ariv (Evening Prayers). As I said, I tried to talk a bit more to people at seudah. I still felt a bit disconnected at shul although why I feel like that is harder to work out. I have the feeling of not being good enough or not frum enough for these people and I can’t work out why I feel like that. No one has said anything to me that should make me feel like that. I do wish sometimes that I knew what other people think of me. Perhaps it’s better than I fear. Then again, perhaps it’s worse…