December 2010


A new year is dawning. Time to make changes.

I think I’ll be tweaking the appearance of my blog some more. I think it could be better, but at least it’s different.

What else is going to change? I was pleased to see I didn’t blog about new year resolutions last year, so I don’t have to blog about non-fulfilment of them. Next year, I won’t be so lucky because I’m going to list my resolutions here. What will I do if I forget to carry them out? Well… I could always delete this post later. Shh – don’t tell anyone.

This blog (as is now confirmed at the top of this page) is about writing and social anxiety, so my resolutions are, too.

My writing resolutions

  • Read at least one book every week.
  • Write something (chapter, ½ chapter, blog post, small stone) before accessing social media on every working day.
  • Work on WIP every working day until it’s finished.
  • 

My SA resolutions

  • Talk (offline) to someone outside the family every day.
  • Write an automatic thought log once per week.

Well, I’ve written them. I hope I can keep them up for a year.

Advertisements

This post was inspired by Catherine Hughes. It took great courage for her to post about all the things that people don’t see.

Like Catherine, but for very different reasons, I feel invisible. People look at me and see a normal person. They don’t realise what’s going on inside me. They may not notice anything at all in that first conversation. They certainly can’t hear what the voice in my head keeps repeating while the conversation is going on and after it: “It won’t be long before she realises that you’re not worth talking to, before she jumps to incorrect conclusions and moves on to lusher pastures.”

What are those conclusions? Mostly that I don’t want to talk. That I’m happy to remain on the side lines rather than joining in. That I’m shy.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I love to talk, even though it’s hard. I love to be the centre of attention. And I’m not shy. No matter how “obvious” that seems to everyone, I’m not, believe me.

Erika, according to a recent Facebook status, is a “lonely, handicapped prisoner”. That’s because she broke her ankle and has been forced to stay at home for six weeks. I commented, “Then you know how I feel all the time,” even though I hadn’t broken anything. Why?

I feel lonely because I like company. I’ve always liked company. Yet mostly, I push that company away because I’m sure it doesn’t really want me.

I feel handicapped because I struggle to do something that most people take for granted. The words come out wrong or not at all. My thoughts can’t escape my head.

I feel like a prisoner locked inside invisible walls that I built in no time and have been trying to knock down for ever.

My main worry, when I’m with other people, is that they’ll think I’m weird. So I do anything to avoid that, including keeping quiet rather than saying something they might be surprised at. But keeping quiet is also weird behaviour, so I’m under constant pressure to talk and that makes my mind go blank and then they think I’m stupid – or I think they do.

I know I’m not capable of explaining this in a conversation. Even when I write it, I worry that people won’t understand, that they’ll think I should be able to snap out of it. Sometimes, even I wonder why I don’t manage to do that, and I live with it.

Catherine put it so well, here: “I hide in plain sight.  You can see me, but you cannot see within me.  You do not know what effort or courage it has taken me to set foot in the outside world; you cannot discern how I feel.”

Many things in my life are good. I’m not trying to deny how lucky I’ve been. I just wish I could solve this problem, which bugs me no end.

You probably know what goes on in November – how certain crazy (or dedicated) people go into hibernation for a month and come out on the first of December with a whole novel. Now there’s something similar to  NaNoWriMo, called NaSmaStoMo. During the month of January, certain crazy people will create a small stone every day, and it seems I’m going to be one of them. The badge on the right says so.

What are these stones?
From the River of Stones website: “A small stone is a polished moment of paying proper attention.” It’s a scene, described after taking care to notice all the details.

I’m not expecting this to be easy, but I’m going to give it a go. Hopefully it’ll teach me to pay more attention to what’s going on around me. If you want to join in, the details are here.

This project is the brainchild of Fiona Robyn and her fiancé, Kaspa.

Yesterday evening, I attended an event where people read stories… essays… pieces they’d written on the topic of immigration and I read one of my stories.

I think it went well. People said they liked my story and I think they meant it. And I enjoyed talking to people afterwards.

So, I’m feeling good today. Time to do lots of writing, methinks.

Someone in my family qualified as an optician and found a job in a large UK company. On her first day, she was told to recommend glasses to everyone, whether they really needed them or not. She left that job and went into another field entirely.

Last weekend’s edition of the Yediot Aharonot newspaper had an article that highlighted a similar situation in the two big book store chains here. Employees are given a list of books to recommend. It doesn’t matter whether they’ve actually read those books or not, they have to recommend them. And if they succeed in selling enough of them, they are rewarded with bonuses and trips abroad.

I’ve hardly ever asked for a recommendation for a book in a shop. I certainly won’t do that any more.

Is this how it works? Is this what happens all over the world? Can this be stopped?

This is the last post in the series. In my next post I’ll return to what this blog was supposed to be about – writing and social anxiety. Not that this post has nothing to do with social anxiety….

***

Leaving the HP sauce behind (because D informed me that he found a source for the sauce), I carry my case and rucksack downstairs and have a quick breakfast before setting out. M2, in the last of many good deeds, is up and dressed, and she drives me to the station at some unearthly hour.

All the trains run to time, and I’m soon taking a last look at the back of the house I lived in for twenty years as my train whizzes past.

My mind is on my luggage, wondering whether it’ll pass the weight limit, when an El Al security person calls me over for the usual chat. You know, who packed your luggage, was it with you all the time. It’s very noisy in the airport, and I haven’t had much sleep. I’ve never had any trouble with the security check before, but this time, she’s worried. She says I seem hesitant.

I try to think of a normal-sounding excuse. “I haven’t spoken Hebrew for six weeks.” A bad idea. She wants to repeat the whole procedure in English. “No. I understood it all. I packed everything and it was with me all the time.”

Fortunately, she lets me go. Otherwise I might have had to mention the dreaded words: social anxiety.

And that’s it. My case weighs 20.2 kg, which is apparently OK. I heave my heavy rucksack onto my sleep-deprived body and follow all the usual procedures until I finally end up in the arms of D, who takes me back home. Because, while London and the other places feel very familiar, Jerusalem is my real home and I’m glad to be back.

Right! It’s time to finish my account of the almost six weeks I spent in the UK and Holland in the summer. In the meantime, I’ve accumulated other things I want to blog about. But I must finish this first.

***

After another visit to my mother, I buy some more leggings, have a quick meal and make my way to a pub called The Phoenix to attend the event for which I extended my trip. Once a month, downstairs at the Phoenix, is an event called “Liars’ League”, in which people come to listen to a few chosen stories read by real actors. I decided that I couldn’t let this opportunity of being in London pass without doing something connected to fiction, and I’m not disappointed.

The stories are read exceptionally well, and I even speak to some people during the breaks. It’s a very pleasant evening.

Back in M2’s house, I spend some time organising my belongings, putting the heaviest things in my rucksack. There’s not much time to sleep. Tomorrow, I’m finally returning home.

Next Page »