Out in public in a big way

Posted on January 31, 2007

I went to a lecture tonight. It was very good, and I took six pages of notes. At the end, the lecturer took questions, and somehow my curiosity about an aspect of the (Jewish) topic outweighed my desire to isolate. I raised my hand and he called on me. He called on me out of about six others.

Have you ever really met someone’s eyes, someone you don’t know, and there’s this sort of lock for a couple of seconds? Maybe not. I have, and it almost always results in some weird sort of contraction in my stomach, like I know we’ve seen each other. Anyway, that happened.

I managed to get my question out without stuttering or stumbling or forgetting what I wanted to ask. He spent some time answering it, confirming an observation I made as part of my question’s basis.

And then after the lecture was over, I introduced myself to the primary organinzer for the lecture, someone I knew a dozen years ago, though we’d lost touch since. And then I had my copy of the lecturer’s book autographed and I talked to him and he said my question “was a really good question, one of the better ones” he’d had when talking on this topic.

I was shaking after I talked to him. Just trembling. I went, I talked to people, I made a concerted attempt to include others who were on the periphery of a conversation prior to the lecture, I asked a question in a room of probably 300 people, I talked to the lecturer. And all this while still feeling like I could dissolve into tears with the right trigger.

I know my “public face” is still usable, still strong. It just hurts to put it on sometimes. Tonight it wasn’t so bad. And then–and then–I met another woman I sort of know who asked me, how are you? I said okay. And she said, hmmmm, no, how are you? After getting over my surprise I said the party line was I’m okay. The truth is a much longer story. It’s been a hard month. And then she said she wanted to help, or more specifically, she wanted to pursue a friendship.

I don’t completely understand. This gets into a much bigger more difficult thing that I can’t quite write about yet. Maybe tomorrow. I like this woman, and I’d like to get to know her better. But I fear inviting her into a friendship where my disorder lurks. I don’t know what to do.


  1. Anonymous

    This woman is sincerely pursuing a friendship, any disorder will not sway her to abandon you. Give it a chance.

  2. Ayelet

    Wow. You really held it together and more! Good for you!

  3. Rivka

    Thank you. It was scary. After I’d talked with the lecturer and I was shaking so bad, I told myself, it’s over, it’s done, you did it, you can relax now, breathe, it’s all okay.

    While most people probably wouldn’t think it was an accomplishment worth celebrating, I did allow myself some satisfaction for having gone through with it and not fallen apart.

  4. Anonymous

    Kol HaKavod! It sounds like that took a LOT of courage on your part. Wow.

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