(No wise mind today, this is too weird and it’s too late at night after Shabbat.)
I had a weird Shabbat. At shul (synagogue) this morning, someone asked me to lunch. I panicked and said I had to go home because my parents were expecting me, which was true, but it was early enough that I could have gone home, told Mum I was going out to lunch and gone back out again. Really, I panicked. It happened so fast that I’m not even sure why I panicked. I think I was worried about not having anything to say or saying something stupid, but it might even have been more fundamental than that, just worrying that someone wants to see me socially worrying me in itself, feeling I will disappoint in someway or that some ill-defined bad thing will happen. I felt guilty for not going, particularly as this person was going to be eating alone because I wasn’t going but also relieved. I don’t know what I’ll do if I get asked again, by this person or someone else. I say I want to have friends, but when I’m presented with the possibility, usually I panic and run away.
On a more positive note, I did speak a little at seudah shlishit (the third meal) at shul. I made some suggestions about interpreting some Torah passages we were discussing and made a (very slight) attempt at humour. So that was something positive. It’s taken nearly eighteen months to get to this stage…
I slept a lot over Shabbat again. I nearly dozed off during the leining (Torah reading) in shul, which was very bad. I had a weird dream this afternoon. I don’t normally relate my dreams, partly because I usually can’t remember them (either coherently or at all), partly because other people’s dreams are usually not terribly interesting, but I thought this one says something about me, although what it says is open to interpretation.
At the start of the dream my parents were annoyed with me. They thought I was being short-tempered when I wasn’t intending to seem like that. This happens to me a lot and has happened since childhood. I think it might be one of my borderline Asperger’s symptoms, that I’m not always as expressive as I would like to be in my tone of voice and facial expressions and so I seem angry when I’m not.
My memory of the next bit is fairly incoherent (something about superheroes loosely based on the graphic novel Superman: Red Son?!). The next bit I can sort of remember is being with characters from Doctor Who (second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe, I think). I think there was some sort of void between universes (as in The Mind Robber) and then we were in another universe, which I somehow knew was Heaven. I think. This is the clearest bit of the dream for me, but I still don’t remember it coherently. I think I felt intense pleasure in this other universe/Heaven, like nothing I had experienced before. It made all my suffering worthwhile. And then I was fighting against myself: part of me wanted to stay there, part of me was trying to wake up. I felt I had to wake myself up (I have had this experience before when finishing a dream). Eventually I woke up and it was much later than I intended and I only had a little bit of time to study Torah before going back to shul.
On waking, I wondered if this was a prophetic dream and I had really been shown that I do have a share in the next world (see my comments about feeling I don’t have a share in the next world here) and that it is worth suffering in this world to get it. Even if I never get any joy or pleasure in this world, it would still be worth it to have the next world. The void between universes would be Gehennom. The longer I’ve been awake, though, the more I doubt it. In Judaism dreams can have prophetic meaning (e.g. Yosef’s/Joseph’s dreams) but even prophetic dreams have a nonsensical element (again, even Yosef’s dreams had this) and some dreams are completely nonsensical. Why would I be shown that I have a share in the next world? (My only possible explanation is because I was thinking about death and suicide recently, especially after what happened regarding lunch.) Especially when I was not even in a state of ritual purity? And if I was shown the next world, how could I even understand it? It makes much more sense to see this as a fantasy dream – I wrote during the week about thinking I have no share in the next world, and now my unconscious produces a wish-fulfillment dream about it. But I can’t shake the feeling that maybe I have been shown something important, if I could just put aside my scepticism. (Interesting article on dreams in Judaism here.)
The final distressing thing that happened to me was looking through a booklet of Torah thoughts in shul this evening. There was an essay on prayer. I brought the booklet home after Shabbat so I can quote it:
Being real about tefilla [prayer] means we realize we are praying to our Father in Heaven Who wants only our good and has the power to do anything. Therefore, we should anticipate that Hashem [God] wants to help us…
If we do not expect that Hashem will answer our tefilla, Hashem will not invade our space and shock us with success. He wants us to earn the realization that He is our Father in Heaven and that we can always count on Him.
This worries me greatly. I suppose it could explain why I don’t get the “miracles” that other frum Jews claim to have received (you can read a million of these stories on Hevria.com, Aish.com, Chabad.org etc.). I admit I get a few things (I’ve been fortunate with my career), but I have spent all my adult life, if not more, struggling with mental illness, loneliness and misery. I just don’t expect things to change. I think God wants me to be this miserable, for some reason.
I feel I have just experienced so much misery in my life, so much bullying, emotional neglect and occasionally behaviour bordering on abuse, that it is hard to believe that God only wants good things for me. I believe that God is omniscient, omnipotent and benevolent… to everyone else. My experience is simply that he doesn’t want me to have a happy life, for whatever reason, because I have not experienced that kind of positive experience in life generally.
And even if I can get past my own experiences, I am haunted by the Holocaust, especially by the one million babies and children who were murdered by the Nazis. When I try and pray for good things, for myself and others, I often see the Holocaust victims, particularly the children, and I think, if God didn’t help them, what guarantee do I have that He will help me? I can’t adopt the simplistic attitude that so many religious people seem to have that God will always step in at the last minute to stop anything terrible from happening. I even wrote a poem about seeing the Holocaust children years ago, although I don’t really remember what I wrote and don’t intend to dig it out now.
I suppose this ties in with everything else I have written about tonight, about being asked to lunch and panicking and turning it down (running away from a potentially good thing) and then having a dream that might have a positive interpretation and insisting on giving it a negative one, even though in Judaism one can ‘force’ a dream to have a good interpretation by believing in that good interpretation. I just can’t open myself up to the possibility of goodness, if only because of the depression and despair in which I am mired. This seems really unfair, as it seems to guarantee that narcissists and other unpleasant people will have a good time while good people who have been made self-critical by suffering and abuse will not receive anything good.