I had therapy today for the first time in about two months, since before my civil wedding. We spoke about quite a few things, including the wedding. One of the big ones was alexithymia and struggling to find and understand my emotions. We spoke a bit about just trying to recognise emotions and sit with them, rather than necessarily doing anything with/to them.

At the same time, we spoke about the Gestalt Cycle. As I understood this, the idea is that we have cycles where our emotions can lead on to actions (among other things). Googling it, I’m not sure I understood correctly, but that’s what I took from it.

It was interesting to me that emotion is linked to action in that way. In Judaism, there’s an argument that ritual actions should coincide with or even provoke emotions. The Medieval commentators and philosophers wondered how Judaism can command emotions (love God with all your heart, soul and might; love your neighbour as yourself; don’t covet etc.). One approach is that actions stimulate emotions so acting lovingly (etc.) can induce that emotion even if you don’t feel it initially (I don’t claim that this will always work, and I can say from experience if you already have strong emotions in the opposite direction, it probably won’t work at all).

Possibly, if I want to feel more Jewishly, I just have to open myself up to the religious actions I’m doing. I went through a phase a while back of trying to focus more on the words when davening (praying) and the feeling of joy and amazement when saying brachot (blessings) (cf. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel). I somehow fell out of the habit (I think when things got stressful before the civil wedding and then Yom Tov), but I could try to get back into that mindset. Not to over-think ritual and prayer, but step back and observe the emotions it induces.

***

My therapist also spoke a bit about integrating the autistic part of myself. This was in a context of saying that I think there’s still a part of me that is trying to “bargain” not to be autistic, or to have had a better autistic experience, rather than accepting that I am autistic and I had the childhood, adolescence and early adulthood that I had, difficult though much of it was. My therapist anthropomorphised it as a child who is sitting in the corner and not fully accepted. I’m not sure what to do with that thought at this stage.

***

We also spoke about the fact that, because I only work for two days in the week, even though I’ve been working there for nearly two years, it’s the equivalent of less than a year working full-time, so it’s no surprise I’m still learning how the office works. This came up because I was saying that it’s when I fully understand a process and why we do things a particular way that I consistently start doing it correctly (albeit that I can still make mistakes when my attention wanders, which happens too often). If I’m just doing something because J said so, I’m likely to make mistakes based on faulty processing or misunderstanding.

***

I joined a Facebook group for dialogue between frum (religious Jewish, although in this context, specifically Orthodox and possibly Haredi/ultra-Orthodox) and OTD (“Off the Derekh” – off the correct path, i.e. not frum, not a phrase I like using generally) Jews. I have no idea if this is going to be an environment where I can connect with open-minded people (presumably anyone joining such a group is more open-minded than most, but maybe not) or if it’s just going to be one huge argument. It’s frustrating that most FB groups are private and you can’t get an idea of what the group is like before joining. I can always leave if it gets too much. So far it seems most people are polite, but a few are less so, although they probably think they’re engaging in radical honesty rather than being rude.

I’ve joined five FB groups now, with two more still pending. Since joining, two of these groups have done a “Hello to new members” post, listing new members by name, and in both groups, they missed off my name. I was too shy socially anxious to say anything.  Honestly, this kind of thing has been happening to me since I was a young child, both “if anything can go wrong, it will” and, more troublingly, being completely ignored in social situations. I was assuming that I get ignored in person because I’m so quiet and skulk near the back of groups, not talking to anyone, but it seems that it happens online too, when I’m not even expected to have done anything, just to have my name added to a list automatically.

4 thoughts on “That’s Me in the Corner

  1. I joined a San Diego FB group earlier this year and they neglected to say welcome to me when they welcomed others. I wouldn’t take it personally!

    Let’s remember the mantra: Facebook sucks!

    Also, a rabbi I once knew said (paraphrased): do the things and don’t worry about the feelings; they’ll appear later. That was true for me. Though singing and praying and observing the holidays didn’t cure my atheism, those things did make me feel more Jewish and more emotionally connected to the community. Now that I do nothing, those feelings have faded…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is not really the point of your post, but my takeaway reading this, your therapy sessions sound far more productive than mine ever were. (I stopped going as I didn’t feel that it was doing much.) I’m not necessarily opposed to going back but it would be good to figure out how to make therapy more productive and valuable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They’ve varied over time. I think it depends on a lot of things: the therapist (a therapist you get on well with isn’t necessarily what you need, although some rapport is necessary); the therapeutic methodology; the frequency of the sessions (this was the first session in about two months), etc… This therapist tells me a reasonable amount of theoretical stuff, which I often find helpful even when I struggle to accept it literally (she uses some Jung), but some therapists wouldn’t do that, and some clients wouldn’t appreciate it. There probably is a degree of luck involved too.

      Like

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