I woke up feeling very depressed and lonely today. Mum and Dad were both out for most of the day, which probably reinforced the loneliness; it’s strange how even an introvert loner like me gets used to waking in a house with at least one other person up and about. I went back to bed for over an hour after breakfast because I was so depressed. Work does seem to take a lot out of me. I get through the work days OK and perhaps there is some adrenaline during them, as I sometimes have a burst of energy in the evening after work, but I’m a wreck the next day.
I decided not to go for a run, as it would take too much time. After a lot of procrastination, I wrote an email to a company that installs software for library management systems and online catalogues to ask if they have a system that would be suitable for where I work and if they would be able to install it. I always feel bad asking questions like this, like I should somehow know in more detail what’s on offer. I also realise that sending this stuff to the “contact” box on the website is not ideal and I should have a personal contact somewhere. Plus, I always feel guilty doing things like this by email when I can hear my Dad saying I should phone, although as has been noted by commenters here before, that’s not always the best approach and may be a product of generational divide or differing communication styles as much as by autism or social anxiety.
As well as not going for a run, I didn’t move further towards getting my non-fiction book self-published. I did cook dinner (vegetarian kedgeree, the easiest recipe I know) and emailed a friend who is struggling with her own issues. I also spent half an hour reviewing last week’s Talmud shiur (class). It seemed to make more sense, although it’s taken me three or four attempts to get to this stage and I don’t know if I have the time/energy/concentration to do this regularly. I also managed to work on my novel for half an hour. I would have liked to have spent longer on it, but I wanted to get to bed reasonably early so stopped. I hit my 500 word target comfortably, which was good.
I’ve been beating myself up for stupid things. I worry I’ve upset someone with an innocent blog comment that I would not have made if I had known what the reaction would be, which I should really have guessed. I worry about losing my friends. It feels like it’s objectively true that my friendships seem to end eventually. This is obviously true if one takes a long enough perspective, but that’s not terribly helpful. I do have friends from university (over fifteen years ago) and one from school (albeit that we haven’t seen each other in years), but lately I’ve lost a lot of friends, sometimes my fault, on some level at least, and sometimes not, but it makes me worry that I can’t keep friends. Lately I seem to be some sort of disaster area for social interactions. I didn’t eat dinner with my parents either, because I wanted to eat, watch TV (to try to relax a bit) and then try to do some things I didn’t do during the day (to get some feeling of accomplishment) and the only way to do that was to eat while watching TV so I felt bad for not eating with them.
I worry about losing E. too, particularly as I don’t know how I keep losing friends to avoid doing it in the future. I also worry that I don’t care about her enough, where “enough” is a problematically vague label to fit on an emotion that can’t be easily quantified, particularly when (a) I have always had trouble understanding my own emotions and (b) severe depression is warping my emotional life generally. I suppose I care about E. enough so that she thinks I’m a good friend, which is probably all that’s needed at the moment. I do worry that I can’t cope with people, though. What if E. and I get married (halevi) and then we discover that I can’t cope with living with anyone other than my parents (who I cope with by hiding in my room most of the time)? It’s good that we’re thinking of moving our relationship on, but I’m terrified of hurting E. To be honest, if I can’t make things work with E., I very much doubt that I can make them work with anyone else. I wish we could just date like “normal” people, with issues about religious difference, geographical distance or mental health issues.
I guess there I go talking about “normality” again, as if there is such a thing. “Normal” and “should” are words I should (!) ban from my vocabulary.
Well, I “should” go to bed…
6 thoughts on “Struggling to Understand my Emotions”
I would say that email was definitely the best way to contact that company. Presumably your parents are around the same age as mine, and their approach to communication is very different.
It may be that living with a wife would be much easier than living with your parents. It sounds like they don’t really “get” your mental health stuff, and I’m guessing E would be a lot more understanding when it comes to that.
I hope living with a wife would be easier. I think my parents do understand my mental health issues to a large extent (especially compared with the difficulties some mental health sufferers have with their families), although I think we’re all still adjusting to what an autism diagnosis would mean for me. It is true that E seems to have more of an intuitive understanding of what I’m going through.
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Agree with Ashley — email is a far better way to make a speculative contact. People feel put on the spot by a phone call. I always prefer email enquiries myself and dislike the phone. I think this is quite common! You may be invited to follow up with a phone call once you have a name and they know what you are looking for. And do give yourself credit for what you are doing … it is hard working on your own … most people in special libraries and even one-man-band affairs would at least have a manager/senior librarian to supervise and support them. You don’t.
And as for keeping friends — I think it is not uncommon to lose friends as you go through life. You learn through this process who are genuine friends who will stick by you, and who are not. But it’s painful especially for those of us who take such rejection as a reflection on our own inadequacy when in fact it’s often the other way round.
I sometimes think that you feel that unless you follow the so called conventions of life you are somehow abnormal. I don’t agree. In my family there is a tendency for people to eat alone … and I know of many good relationships where the couple decide they prefer separate bedrooms — even separate homes! People are not always open about unconventional living arrangements for fear of what others will think. I hope it works out with E. Even though you are apart, the frequent contact will help to build and strengthen your friendship — and good friendship is the essential foundation for a good marriage.
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Email seems to have worked as I have a phone meeting set up for Monday – more details later in today’s post.
I know people lose friends and I can accept that where we’ve just drifted out of each other’s lives, particularly after moving to different areas, changing family circumstances or having demanding jobs, but I feel bad that several people have actively fallen out with me in the last year or so. One of those was bizarre and nothing to do with anything I actually did, but the others were my fault, at least in terms of poor social skills and not thinking things through properly. That makes me worry about whether those scenarios could happen again.
Yes, I was brought up by my parents to have a strong sense of what “everybody does” (or doesn’t do). With an autistic lack of social skills and communication abilities, I was rarely able to work out what “everybody does” but was expected to conform to it anyway and I guess with an equally autistic need for rules and tendency towards black and white thinking, I’ve internalised the need to conform while not always wanting to do so. It is hard for me to realise that my wife wouldn’t necessarily think like my mother…
E sounds like a very good friend; have you defined the relationship as friends only or does it have the potential to be more? Or is that part of the uncertainty? Even when I’ve kept friends, our closeness ebbs and flows, and our connections mutate. Everything seems like it’s always in flux. I’m not really a fan of that.
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It’s kind of a long story. We were friends, then we started dating (this is all long-distance), then we broke up because we thought we couldn’t make the practical side of things work. Now we’re thinking of getting back together. It is hard doing all this long-distance.
I think friendships do mutate. I also find it hard to deal with that.
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