I had a couple of insights into myself and my recent thoughts in the last few days. One was reading Gold from the Land of Israel, Chanan Morrison’s elucidation of ideas from Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook. The idea was familiar to me, but hit me with a force that it hadn’t had before. The idea was that experiencing miracles is not the highest level of righteousness; the highest level is not needing overt miracles because one sees God’s hand in apparently natural events (this is, although he didn’t say it, the meaning of the forthcoming minor festival of Purim, which I am already dreading). This made me think that I shouldn’t see myself as inferior to those people on Hevria.com or Aish.com who claim to have experienced miracles, except that I don’t know that I really do see God’s hand in natural events; at any rate, it’s hard to think of much that has happened to me that seems unequivocally good in the way that this does. Usually if something good happens to me, as soon as I let my guard down and give thanks for it, I get whacked with something awful.
The other thing that occurred to me was that a lot of the pressure and anxiety I feel at moment stems from my perfectionism. I feel I have to be perfect at my job to avoid getting fired (and to prevent my colleagues and the students thinking I’m an idiot). I feel I have to be religiously perfect in order for God to love me and to have a share in Olam HaBa (the Next World). Perhaps most of all, I feel I have to be a perfect person in order to be accepted into the frum (religious Orthodox Jewish) community and to get married, and that this perfection basically includes getting rid of my eccentricities and unusual character traits (secular interests, geekyness, mental health issues, autistic traits). Underlying most, if not all of these things, is a belief that no one will like me for who I am, flaws and all, and that there isn’t anyone else who struggles like me or who has unusual traits like me.
I want to believe there is a frum geeky woman out there who maybe has experienced some difficulties and will be a good match for me, but I can’t believe it is true or, worse, I think maybe she does exist, but we will never meet or even know of each other’s existence because God hates me and doesn’t want to bring us together. The evidence for my views is mostly that it hasn’t happened until now, so I doubt it ever will, but also from various near misses where I met someone I thought was like me, but then they turned out not to be a good match, or simply not to like me. In the last year or so I’ve “met” (in real life or online) three frum geeky women who I thought might be right for me, but they weren’t (they didn’t want children, or at least weren’t certain (I very much do) and in some cases weren’t interested in me anyway). Plus I dated one frum geeky woman years back, but that didn’t work out for reasons I probably shouldn’t mention here, but it left me very hurt and sceptical of finding someone like me or who could at least accept me, feeling that the only person who would accept me would be even more messed up than I am and would hurt me. I don’t know what I can do about these feelings.
To be fair, the frum community is quite old-fashioned and conformist, and rather bourgeois in its outlook. Then again, I can perhaps over-stress that. It hasn’t been my experience so much as what I’ve picked up from reading Hevria and other frum blogs, but I suppose they are often written by people with a grievance, real or imagined, so maybe I shouldn’t pay too much attention to them. The Hevria people in particular are fairly counter-cultural and Bohemian and most of them are ba’alei teshuva (Jews who became religious late in life) who reached Jewish observance via counter-culture, drugs and Eastern mysticism so I guess they were always going to struggle to conform in a way that I wouldn’t necessarily do.
(I’m not really part of a specific counter-culture. My mental background is a bit like this quote: “Doctor Four and Romana Two… were unfettered by popular culture, adrift in a time-warped world that was a liberal intellectual’s wet dream, a weird wonderland formed from bits of the 1890s, 1960s, the future, a higher plane, a secondhand bookshop, an ivory tower, and the anti-bourgeois underground…” From The Lovers by Ian Berriman in Purple Haze #1 reprinted in Licence Denied: Rumblings from the Doctor Who Underground edited by Paul Cornell)
It’s going to be a strange week, anyway. It’s half-term, so I’m supposed to be off, but there’s a major project going on at one of the colleges that my college merged with. We’re basically setting up a library there from scratch with thousands of books to process in a few days. I’m going there on two days to help with the job and pay off the time I took off for my sister’s wedding in December and maybe earn some overtime; the other days I’m having off, as I needed a break and have things to do, especially having a long-needed haircut (I hate having my haircut, but I don’t like leaving my hair long these days either). It’s right the other side of London, even further than my usual commute, so I’ve arranged to come in around 10.00am and leave around 4.30pm, maybe a little earlier. I still have to leave home almost as early as usual, though, as the commute looks like being anything from an hour and a quarter to two hours each way compared with my usual commute of an hour and twenty minutes, which is bad enough. I hope to get some reading done, but if I’m tired or depressed or can’t get a seat in rush hour, I might end up just sitting feeling awful. Ugh, I’m going into full Eeyore mode again. (Heh, the WordPress spell checker recognises ‘Eeyore’. But not ‘WordPress’, weirdly.)
In terms of moving my life on, I’ve got in contact with an old friend of mine who works as a researcher to ask if we can meet and discus my options in that field, although he warned me that he might not be the best example, as he doesn’t earn much from it. I’d like to catch up with him anyway as we haven’t seen each other for months. I’ve also thought that it might be worth contacting CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Librarians and Information Professionals, of which I am a member, to see if they offer any careers advice or information. Make them earn their membership fee for a change. I actually felt a bit positive about this recently, although when I stop to think about it in depth, I start worrying again.
My father asked his rabbi if he knows a shadchan (matchmaker) who works with people with health issues. He didn’t, but recommended the shadchan his daughter used. I am sceptical, but have emailed her with my shidduch profile (dating profile). As I said above, though, it’s hard to believe there’s someone compatible with me out there, still less that the one shadchan I go to will happen to know her. Hello again, Eeyore.