Shabbat (the Sabbath) was a bit of a curate’s egg (I wish I could think of a less clichéd metaphor for something good and bad).
Dinner at the rabbi’s house mostly went OK. I spoke a bit and had a good time, albeit that I was very nervous about saying or doing the wrong thing. There were quite a lot of people there, other congregants and their children and the rabbi’s youngest children. I was the only person there over the age of eighteen who was unmarried. Someone started talking about getting married young and saying that it is better for everyone to marry as young as possible. The rabbi, possibly being sensitive to me, said that it’s not always in our hands. People can be tactless sometimes. It was good to get to know the new rabbi a bit better and to be known by him. I would feel more confident approaching him with a question in the future, especially a mental health-related one. I do worry the rabbi thinks I’m deaf, though. Every time he speaks to me, my brain does the autistic/socially anxious thing of thinking “OH NO SOMEONE IS SPEAKING TO ME!!!!!” so loudly (so to speak) that I can’t concentrate on what he’s actually saying and have to ask him to repeat himself. It turns out that the rabbi knows one of the rabbis who taught me at school, who was as responsible as anyone for my becoming frum (religious), which was a nice coincidence.
I got home about a quarter to midnight, which was rather late. I spoke to my parents for a while, then read for a bit and went to bed at 1.00am. Unfortunately, I had super-insomnia. I lay in bed for a bit, read (popular physics) for a bit, lay in bed again, got a migraine, got up again because the migraine hurt too much lying down… I think I eventually fell asleep around 5.30am. I decided not to go to shul (synagogue) on two and a half hours of sleep and slept in despite my determination to get to shul on Shabbat mornings again.
This afternoon I read a whole bunch of things, the physics book again (The Elegant Universe), The Spiritual Revolution of Rav Kook and Batman. I feel a bit like I read anything provided it’s geeky on some level (I feel Rav Kook is geeky, but I’m not sure I could explain why. Maybe he’s not so much geeky as individualistic; there aren’t many Hasidic rabbis who accept evolution and write about the need for Jewish creativity).
Shul this afternoon was OK until the second shiur (religious class). There was a guest speaker, a Rosh Yeshiva (head of a rabbinical seminary). He spoke about a verse from this week’s parasha (Torah reading). Talking about the many terrible things that would happen to the Israelites if they didn’t follow the Torah, it says, “Because you did not serve HaShem your God with happiness and gladness of heart when you had an abundance of everything.” (Devarim/Deut. 28.47) The Kotzker Rebbe (who probably suffered from bipolar depression) interprets this as “You were happy and glad not to serve HaShem your God when you had an abundance of everything”, but the Rosh Yeshiva translated the way most commentators do, which is the straightforward way of understanding the verse: “God gave you an abundance of everything, and you served Him, but not with happiness and gladness of heart.” Given that I don’t get much joy out of mitzvot and Torah study because of depression and not fitting into the community, this is bad news for me. I do mitzvot, but I don’t have happiness and gladness of heart when I do them, so it looks like I might as well not bother for all the good it’s doing anyone.
My heart lifted a bit when the Rosh Yeshiva asked, what is the button we can use to turn on our happiness and gladness of heart when performing mitzvot? Sadly, his answer was to focus on the reward we will get in Olam HaBa (the Next World). I’ve already mentioned that I don’t think I’m going to get any reward in the next world. Aside from feeling that I haven’t done anything worth rewarding, I’m so used to everything going wrong for me, that somehow I feel that even there, it won’t go well for me. Somehow there will be a loophole and I won’t get anything. I know that this is illogical and heretical and theologically stupid, but I can’t imagine things ever going that well for me.
Anyway, as I’ve said before, the traditional metaphors for Olam HaBa mayke it sound like a big party for the righteous or a big yeshiva. I know it’s not literally either of these things, but that is how it is always described. Neither of these suits me, as I’m equally scared and uncomfortable with parties and yeshiva-style study. Too many people, too much noise in both cases, and not enough that interests me or speaks to my unique interests and personality. I can’t cope. I guess in Olam HaBa I wouldn’t have autism or social anxiety, but then it’s hard to imagine being me without them. Anyway, what would I say to my ancestors or the great tzadikim (saintly figures)? I can’t imagine anyone being particularly proud of me, either my immediate ancestors or the tzadikim of Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible). What would Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) say to me? Plus, one is supposed to be with the other half of one’s soul, one’s spouse, which wouldn’t work out for me either, if I die unmarried, as seems likely.
Speaking of yeshivas reminds me that in the first shiur today, the weekly Talmud shiur, I knew a number of answers to the questions and had an (I thought) perceptive question/comment to make, but I was too shy to say any of these things aloud. There is someone there who always has to answer every question and make some comment; I wish I was a little bit more like him and he was a little bit more like me. CBT has taught me that I should be more confident speaking out, but it is still as hard as ever to actually do so.
My parents are talking to me about a career change. I’ve been thinking on these lines anyway. I can’t support myself writing (yet? Or ever?) so I need part-time work in some other field. Don’t have a clue what I could do though. I may need some more careers advice.
There’s an article in a frum magazine that I was looking at today that interviews frum people with non-typical jobs (a disproportionate number of frum men work as lawyers, doctors and accountants; the women are generally teachers, or therapists of some description I think (psychotherapist, physiotherapists or occupational therapists). They interviewed someone I was at school with who is now a data scientist. That fits the type of person she was at school. I really feel I missed the bus somewhere on my way from school, that all the other clever, well-behaved children became important professionals with interesting, well-paid jobs and families and I got stuck in limbo somewhere with nothing at all.
Now I need to eat something. I feel I should watch TV to distract myself from wallowing in misery, but I don’t really have the desire to watch anything in particular. I just want to curl up somewhere and ignore the world. I joined an autism WhatsApp group last week and just belatedly entered a conversation on employment (belatedly as I didn’t use my phone during Shabbat, so I missed the conversation earlier) and now I’m suddenly regretting opening up to strangers about being unemployed.