I was somewhat late for volunteering today, partly because I overslept, partly because there were no buses.  To be fair, the two other people who get the same bus were similarly late.  I hung around to drink coffee with the other volunteers afterwards.  I tried to speak.  I find it hard.  There are some things I don’t really want to talk about, and other things where I can’t work out whether I should talk about them or not.  There are some questions that I would naturally answer with a yes/no answer, but I have learnt that allistics (non-autistics) often prefer an explanation or elaboration, so I try to give that where it doesn’t seem too intrusive.  Believe it or not, I’m a private person away from my blog.

I did mention that I’m engaged and having my civil wedding soon.  I’d been wondering whether to say something, then I had the opportunity to drop it into the conversation casually, so I did.  Everyone was pleased for me, although I had to explain the immigration/two weddings situation.

More difficult to handle was when I was asked if I would join everyone at a non-kosher restaurant for lunch next week (there is no actual volunteering next week).  I was not comfortable doing that, although I was pleased to be asked.  But I find these situations awkward, as I don’t want to appear holier-than-thou.  To be honest, part of me was glad, as if it was at a kosher restaurant, I would feel obliged to go and I’m not sure I’m ready for that level of social contact with these people yet.  But I know E would be inclined to go in this situation and it does make me wonder how we will deal with our different kashrut-based socialising decisions.  It can be a bit of a minefield at the best of times.

I volunteer putting together the food packages at the food bank, and then other volunteers come to distribute them in their cars.  One of those drivers was wearing a kippah like the one I was wearing.  These were produced uniquely for my sister and brother-in-law’s wedding guests, so it would seem he was there (I guess as a guest on my brother-in-law’s side as I didn’t know him, most likely a relative or close friend of my BIL’s parents).  I didn’t have the confidence to ask him about it.  My Dad has actually had at least one conversation with a stranger started by the shared wedding kippah connection and I felt that my Dad would want me to ask him, but I didn’t have the confidence.

In the afternoon I spent some time on my novel.  I spent about an hour on it, not as much as I would have liked, but I wrote over 500 words, and it was a difficult passage (not yet finished), about my characters’ reactions in an art gallery.  Art is not a subject I know a lot about, so it is a learning curve.  I think this chapter will take some time

I submitted my first novel to another agent.  I had to pick one from a bunch of agents at the agency.  They did have them tagged by genre, which made it easier, although I’m not sure what I feel about ‘mental illness’ and ‘neurodivergent’ apparently being considered genres now, useful though that is to me, given my novel’s subject matter.  I feel vaguely bad that I discounted one agent for having two typos on her profile page, although it then turned out that she’s not currently looking for new writers anyway (phew, no guilt!).  I did find another one to submit to.

***

I saw a blog post yesterday about not having a victim mentality.  Then today I was in a discussion about the same subject.  I probably do have something of a victim mentality when I look back at my earlier life, in particular the bullying and the years lost to depression/autistic burnout.  I’m finding it hard to learn to accept my life without letting the negative parts of it define me, and not to see it as leaving me with something to prove or a need to redeem my life.  It’s possible that I still haven’t processed the fact that I’ve discovered that I’m disabled and have been all my life, or at least that I haven’t processed it as much as I thought I had.

Today I was thinking (for unrelated reasons) about wanting to be myself, about the famous story about the eighteenth century Hasidic master Zusia of Hanipol.  On his deathbed, he said he was scared.  His Hasidim asked why.  He said, “I’m not scared that they will say [in the afterlife], ‘Why were you not Avraham (Abraham)?’ because I am not Avraham.  I’m not scared they will say, ‘Why were you not Moshe (Moses)?’ because I am not Moshe.  I’m scared they will say, ‘Zusia, why were you not Zusia?’”

It is scary to think of going through life trying to be someone else and I have no idea if I’m doing that.  I was thinking yesterday that I wished I was more spontaneous and confident enough to say and do things in an off-the-cuff way.  Then I asked myself if I really wished I could do that or if I just had an image in my head that being spontaneous is a good thing to be and that I’m not spontaneous and don’t need to be.

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12 thoughts on ““Why were you not Luftmentsch?”

  1. I want to be myself but a better version of myself with others. I wouldn’t go out in public naked, so I put on my literal and metaphorical “clothes” to be around others. I’m still me but parts of me are hidden unless I choose to show them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think being a private person and having an anonymous blog are related – one shares on a blog what one is unwilling to share outside of it. I think Margaret’s metaphor about clothing is fitting. Being yourself doesn’t have to mean exposing all of yourself all of the time.

    Re: victim mentality, I think this is challenging because society has a lot of conflicting views on this. On the one hand, there’s an idea of overcoming a victim mentality in courageous, dramatic ways (I feel like this is a common movie arc), but on the other hand, society seems to oddly “incentivize” or “reward” certain types of victimhood and look down on others. I think in the end, you have to decide if the way you view yourself is helpful (eg. acknowledging pain, trauma, setting realistic expectations) or harmful and limiting.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, I used to blog publicly, when I was on Livejournal. I haven’t done that for a long time, though.

      I think it probably is limiting to see myself as a victim, although it does help in setting my expectations.

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  3. That’s neat about the wedding kippah and recognizing it.

    Anytime I read about having victim mentality, it seems it produces a divisive effect depending on people’s understanding of the writing. I notice that increasingly so people do not read well for comprehension, so they might get hung up on a statement and then misconstrue the entire message. It’s true that if we have mental illness or are neurodivergent, we are suffering challenges that others who don’t suffer with these don’t. Maybe having a victim mentality is to become bitter and let it ruin one’s life. I’m hovering in that place, but trying not to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I don’t think it helps a person to become bitter.

      I wonder if people are only skim reading because of the sheer amount of information we’re presented with daily. Then they misunderstand and get offended.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That could very well be one of the causes. I recall someone who referred to animals as “beasts,” and it was humorous and disappointing to see how many people were offended and commenting how could anyone say such a thing about animals. I wanted to tell them to open their Bibles to Genesis (who am I kidding, they probably don’t have one!) and read about the beasts of the field. It’s pointless to have those discussions, though. If someone is determined to be offended, they’re rarely swayed.

        Liked by 1 person

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