I’m a bit scared to write anything today as, looking at the responses I wrote to the comments on yesterday’s post, I’m worried I’m so negative that I’m going to scare everyone off.  Shabbat (the Sabbath) at least was quite good.  My sister and brother-in-law were here, which was fun, but made meals super-draining.  I woke up on time to go to shul (synagogue) this morning, but was too tired.  I kept thinking, “I’ll get up in five minutes” until I eventually fell asleep again.  This upset me, as I would have liked to have kept the shul-going momentum going, but as I struggled to go to shul in the afternoon maybe I was at the limit of my energy level anyway.

***

At shul this afternoon we had the siyum (celebration for finishing religious study) for communally studying three sedarim (orders) of the Mishnah in memory of someone who died last month.  This was the “learning” that I had mixed feelings about joining as I wanted to be part of the community, but felt I could not currently commit to any learning and also I don’t believe that studying Torah helps the dead anyway.  Listening to the eulogy was weird, though, as it could have been for me (quiet, sits at the back without saying much – plus, the unspoken thing, single and childless) except that I doubt so many people would turn out for me.  Nor do I send out a weekly devar Torah (Torah thought) the way this person did and, for all the rabbi said someone should take over, I don’t really want to do that.

At the siyum I also felt depressed by the number of people my age there with many children.  I don’t want to have seven or eight children as one or two couples in the community have, but lots of people my age have two or three.  I completely failed to successfully interact with any of the children sitting near me, which only reinforced my feelings about not being a teacher/teaching assistant.  Mind you, I largely failed to successfully interact with any of the adults too.  I’m pretty rubbish at social interactions, really.

A friend of mine just had a baby.  I’m really excited about this.  I can be pleased for people I know well who have children, it’s when I don’t really know anything about the people except that they’re my age and have children that it upsets me.  I don’t know why that is.  I suppose it depends on whether I can connect with them positively as friends or just as “parents.”

***

On my last post sarnhyman said that I’m too hard on myself.  S/he is not the first person to suggest that.  I suppose I’m reluctant to be less hard on myself because I feel I have lots of bad traits that I need to remove.  I feel that I shouldn’t have missed shul this morning.  I suppose if I hadn’t missed shul, I might have struggled to go in the afternoon (it was hard enough as it was).  Also, it’s debatable whether being hard on myself has ever really helped me improve.  I suppose I don’t know how to not be hard on myself.

There are a couple of areas of my life that I really struggle with all the time, but particularly at this time of the (Jewish) year when the focus is on teshuva (repentance) and growth.  One is arguing with my parents, as I mentioned the other day – not generally full blown rows (haven’t had one of those for ages, thankfully), just bickering and sarcasm, and snapping at each other unnecessarily.  There is another thing… I’m not sure whether to mention it, but I feel hugely guilty while also recognising that it’s a common thing to struggle with in the frum (religious Orthodox Jewish) world.  I guess there are some sins that no one would publicly admit to committing (e.g. breaking Shabbat), then there are others, like lashon hara (improper speech) that everyone feels able to say they struggle with and it would seem arrogant not to confess to doing, then there are some where everyone admits everyone struggles to some extent, but no one talks about how it impacts on them…  It’s very confusing to me.  It was something I always wanted to talk about in therapy, and sometimes I did, but we often got side-tracked and I feel that I don’t understand myself at all in this area.  I don’t know what to do about it, as I’ve been struggling with it for years.  Maybe talking about things just encourages them though, as is the general thought in the frum world.

5 thoughts on “Social Interactions and Being Too Hard on Myself

  1. You *are* very hard on yourself. I think having depression already gives you an inclination to feel bad when you don’t do enough, so I’m wondering if there’s a way to remind yourself more of your successes and show yourself some compassion. You aren’t being lazy (your mental illness bullies you and tells you that you are)–you have valid health issues that you are fighting against every single day to accomplish the things you want to.

    Something I’m having to do right now is reevaluate my definition of success. I have a tendency to be very particular about what it looks like (income level, relationships, kids, certain kind of job, social life, traveling, etc.), and that’s caused a lot of unhappiness because I’m not living that life. And every single time I see someone who looks like they have those things, it’s like a physical or emotional pain. But the truth is there are many definitions of success. Those people who seem to be having an easier time of things just don’t have the same challenges we do.

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    1. Interesting. I don’t know what a realistic definition of success for me is. I’ve never seen money or status as success, but I do see not being dependent on my parents as success. I see a lot of religious observances as success, but I know I can’t meet them, in terms of mitzvot like Torah study, communal prayer, children etc., but also social things like fitting in to the community and having frum friends. I see connection with people as success, but somehow I get distracted from that or forget about it when I need to remember it, or else I don’t believe that I’ve achieved so many connections or I focus on the people I’ve lost touch with or who got angry with me. I do have a sense of wanting to do something that justifies my life and (although I’m somewhat ashamed to admit it) somehow gets back at everyone who bullied me as a child (even though I’m sure they’ve all forgotten me by now – I don’t even remember most of them clearly).

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