I had a difficult day today.  I did sort my iTunes problem and go for a walk to get a repeat prescription.  I also did fifteen minutes of brainstorming about the next step for the work library and went to shiur.  That was about it though.  I didn’t have time for working on my novel or looking into self-publishing my Doctor Who book.  A couple of things happened that made me anxious, even made me think of mortality (mine and that of those around me).  One I can’t talk about here and one I don’t think would be sensible to talk about here, but writing is my usual outlet for negative emotions, so it is hard to cope with them when I can’t write about them.  I don’t know how much here is anxiety and how much is real.  I hope these things will turn out to be nothing, but who knows.

Shiur was difficult again.  I’m trying not to obsess over it, because there is a sense of the problem being in my head and my tendency to compare myself to others.  I struggled to understand the shiur again and I suppose on some level I assumed that the others did understand it, even though the person who gave me a lift home said it was a difficult shiur.  Then I felt inferior to the people who are studying Daf Yomi (the daily page of Talmud) and also to the off-hand way people can talk about holiness and spirituality as if they find it in their lives every day.  Do many people really experience those things easily?  Or at all?  I feel like I am a weird exception, being a strongly believing and practising Jew who feels little positive emotional (as opposed to intellectual) connection to God, Torah and Judaism.  Is this the case?

I can see that I am at least possibly seeing things that aren’t there, assuming that lots of people are regularly studying Talmud when they might not be, assuming that people are understanding the shiur when they might not, assuming that people are living lives filled with religious meaning and purpose and connection to God, Torah and Judaism when they might not, but it’s still hard to switch off the voice that tells me that I’m weird, that I don’t fit into the Orthodox community, that I have no connection with God and so on.

6 thoughts on “Anxiety and Inferiority

  1. You also have different mental resources available to you than others. If Talmud study happened to involve hopping on one foot and you happened to be wheelchair-bound, I wouldn’t think that would make you weird and inadequate.

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    1. I guess it’s hard to remember that depression can affect my mental resources like that. I suppose I think of it affecting mood and energy more than concentration and reasoning, perhaps because on the whole I’m less affected in those areas than others.

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  2. I expect religious experience is a bit like the Emperor’s New Clothes — with many people affecting a spirituality and a closeness to God which they don’t actually have because that’s what’s expected – they go along with the crowd. The only difference between you and the crowd is that you see that the emperor is naked but assume that everyone else is enjoying his finery. You are also honest enough to admit it. I have the same problem in my faith and have come to the conclusion that while I am not alone in feeling alienated from God, perhaps I am in a minority in the degree to which this causes me to suffer. God’s silence in the face of man’s reaching out to him in pain is a mystery. We can cover that silence up with charismatic displays and intellectual study, but the truth – that nakedness – is unavoidable for those of us who are willing to stand aside from the crowd. And I’m afraid that this side of eternity all we can do is trust and obey (to use the words of a well-known Christian hymn) in the face of existential angst. There is no other choice, and therein some people have eventually found peace – and even, dare I say it, that elusive God? Some say he comes when we stop looking. … Elijah’s gentle whisper, no less.

    But sorry, I tend to ramble, and probably not making sense. In a nutshell: you are not alone in feeling this way, and I doubt many people are really living lives “filled with religious meaning and purpose and connection to God.” And if they were they would not boast about it.

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  3. We all tend to assume that others have it together better than we do. I think they’re just better actors. I’m overly open at times, and don’t always get openness in return. (which makes me feel like I’m the only one with problems) I don’t know as much about autism as I should–but does it make you less able or willing to pretend? Would it also cause you to feel less connected to others, including god?

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  4. I’m not sure if autism affects willingness to pretend, but certainly I feel that I have to pretend a lot or else stand out as different. It does make me feel less connected to other people as I can’t “read” them the way a neurotypical person would, but I think my feeling of disconnection from God is rooted more in depression and low self-esteem.

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