I looked online for “Does HaShem [God] hate me?” (I have a habit of using search engines like a magic 8-ball or the I Ching when depressed, albeit not literally taking the results as prophetic, more to find reasons to make myself more depressed.)  I found an article on Chabad.org (deliberately not going to link to it) that wasn’t helpful.  It said that I only think that HaShem hates me to give myself an excuse to carry on sinning and that I should accept that He loves me and therefore be good.  It would have been better if it had said that I only think HaShem hates me because I’ve been so bullied, neglected, belittled and boundary-trampled by my peers and especially by some of the authority figures in my life that I can’t believe that anyone could love me and that I need to accept that HaShem doesn’t have the hang-ups and inadequacies that they had that led them to put me down or prevented them for being there for me.  But now it just reinforces the feeling that I’m a terrible person who tells himself that HaShem hates him so he can sin even more.

I tried doing what Rebbe Nachman of Breslov suggests and focusing on good things I’ve done.  It’s hard.  I can think of two things, but the amount I had to do in both cases was trivial and anyone could/should have done it.  I don’t like to boast, but I did something on on two separate occasions that may have saved lives.  Yet they seem such trivial affairs.  All I did was alert the relevant authorities to the danger in time.  I didn’t do anything difficult, dangerous or brave (unless you count overcoming my social anxiety to speak up), I was just in the right place at the right time.  Anyone could have done it.  Perhaps someone would have done it if I wasn’t there.  But perhaps they wouldn’t, and looking at the outcome, what I did had very positive effects, even though my action was trivial and could have been done by anyone who was there.  It’s very confusing.

The Talmud says that saving a single life is like saving the universe.  I don’t think of myself as someone who has done great things, yet the Talmud would say that I did do two great things.  So why don’t I feel better?  It reminds me of a Doctor Who comic strip where the Doctor is feeling depressed in a bar.  The bartender asks what he does and he says he helps people.  The bartender asks how many people he’s saved and he says that he doesn’t really know because the number is too big and the bartender says if it’s that big, he should basically give himself a break and relax occasionally.  But if I relax and rely on past success which, even if non-trivial, were a long time ago and could, and perhaps would, have been done by anyone with little effort or cost, then I fear I will go downhill rapidly into arrogance and sin.  Even just thinking of this makes me feel overwhelmed (by what?  I don’t know) and want to act out to escape my thoughts.

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of comparing myself to other people.  Hevria.com sometimes (often, if I’m honest) makes me feel so stupid and inadequate, everyone seems to have led ten lives and achieved great things while I haven’t even lived one.  I haven’t done anything, really.  Not anything difficult or worthwhile.  Nor do I expect to ever do so any more.  It’s no wonder I have such difficulty finding someone willing to spend time with me, as a friend or partner.  I don’t exactly have much to offer, whether to a potential friend or wife or to God.  I can’t spend my life living on the benefit of what I may or may not have done years ago.

I guess it’s also easy to fall into the trap that because ‘older singles’, people with mental health issues and people with unusual interests or hobbies are not always treated with respect in the frum (religious) community, that somehow makes me any less worthy of love, just because other people are too short-sighted to see my virtues.  But it’s difficult to believe that I’m worthy of love in the abstract by God if hardly anyone down here on Earth loves me.  In any case, I don’t just want to be loved in the abstract.  I want to be loved by physical people.  I suspect that the only people who really care about me are my parents, my sister, maybe my brother-in-law and one or two friends.  Which I guess is more than some people have, so I feel bad for saying that it’s not enough, but it isn’t enough.  Which I guess is because I don’t love myself, otherwise it wouldn’t matter to me who loved me.  But – and this is the circular logic – it’s hard to love myself when society is sending messages that I’m not worthy of love, even though society tends to love people who loves themselves (and who behave “normally”).

Sometimes I wish I could just open up to people in my community about my mental health and my geeky interests and see what would happen.  Maybe they wouldn’t care (even though mental health is stigmatised in mainstream culture as much as in frum culture, and even though just owning a TV is considered at least vaguely disreputable in frum culture, let alone writing a book about a TV programme).  But I don’t have the social skills to direct the conversation like that or the confidence to do it.  I find mentioning long-term health issues difficult because it’s a big thing to casually drop into the conversation and unless you’ve only just been diagnosed, there’s a feeling of, “Why are you telling me this now?”

One minute I think that God hates me and that I’m a terrible sinner, the next I think maybe he loves me, but then why don’t more people love me and maybe He doesn’t love me if no one else does… it’s very confusing.  I wish I knew what to do.

I feel nauseous with anxiety right now and I don’t even know why.

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2 thoughts on “Doing Good and Feeling Loved

  1. I would say that even if it doesn’t make you feel good, saving lives (even if it was indirectly and even if it didn’t require sacrifice on your part) is still an essentially good act.

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