I had a fairly bad Shabbat.  At shul I wanted to speak openly to a friend (if I can call him that… he’s the closest person I have to a friend there, anyway) after the service about having struggled with my depression this week, but when it came to it, I panicked and said everything was fine.  Then I got too anxious and depressed to speak to the rabbi and just went home quickly to avoid talking to anyone else.  I had a difficult dinner with my parents.  They didn’t really agree with my therapist that I shouldn’t be looking to get married because I only want to get married because I’m lonely and I want someone to “fix” me, but they thought my main (only?) reason for wanting to get married is that it’s a mitzvah (religious commandment).  It seems that no one thinks I’m capable of wanting to give to someone and to share my life with her.  This just confuses me and brings me down.  (Ironically, my ex used to say that I did take care of her and her issues well, better than she took care of me, which was more or less true.)  It didn’t help that my father said that he can’t talk to me at the moment, which my Mum thinks is because of my borderline Asperger’s.  My father has a roundabout way of talking, going off at tangents which is confusing to someone who likes communication to be clear and direct, while he misinterprets my bluntness and confusion as anger.  Still, I probably could understand him if I tried harder.

I don’t know what time I went to bed or how long I slept, but I think it must have been for ten or eleven hours, with a two hour plus nap this afternoon.  This will probably mess up my weekend sleep pattern, as it usually does (it’s 10.00pm and I haven’t had dinner and have things to do before bed).  I had a really disturbing dream on Friday night/early Saturday morning.  I don’t want to relate it, but it was very upsetting.  I don’t know whether that dream or the therapy session and conversation with my parents yesterday triggered the thoughts I had this afternoon, but they may have done.  To be blunt, I started wondering if I was the reincarnation of someone completely evil, a rapist or murderer.

Reincarnation is not an idea non-Jews or non-religious Jews typically associate with Judaism, but actually it has been part of Jewish mysticism for a thousand years or more.  However, usually I have a more rationalist approach to religion, which sees reincarnation as an idea extrinsic to Judaism, borrowed from other religions and not part of Judaism’s understanding of the soul and life after death.  Still, Ramban (Moses Nachmanides), one of the most important Jewish thinkers of the Middle Ages, saw the reincarnation of the wicked as the big solution to the problem of theodicy.

This idea of being a reincarnation of someone evil to explain my suffering is not new for me.  Still, in the afternoon I became fixated on the idea of being a reincarnated rapist as it seemed to explain so much: my suffering; my terror of my sexuality; why sex and self-loathing seem to be so mixed up for me; my desire for a violent, redemptive death; my violent thoughts (usually directed against my self, but sometimes pure O/OCD fears about hurting others) and horror of violence; my self-hatred out of all proportion of what I might have done; my feeling that HaShem (God) hates me, letting me suffer even as a child and not doing the ‘miracles’ that other frum (religious) people report; feeling sure that I won’t have a share in Olam HaBa (the Next World)*; my susceptibility to sexual temptation; and especially the reason it looks like I will never manage to get married or have another relationship.  I guess it would explain why the one relationship I did have turned out to be a situation where my girlfriend didn’t respect my boundaries and why I feel so confused about my boundaries and how I would like them to be respected.

I don’t think that I really believe that I am a reincarnation of someone evil, but it would seem to explain so much that I became pretty focused on it for a couple of hours, becoming even more depressed and unable even to read a novel to distract myself.  I know that OCD can make people feel that they have committed crimes that they have not done and wonder if this is something like that.  I’ve had that a bit in the past, usually in the form of OCD worries that I might have opened a webpage that had illegal content on it without knowing that I had done so.  But it really did seem to explain so much of my life, I think I almost wanted it to be real, because then at least it would explain why I suffer, why I hate myself, why I will never get married.  I often feel I could cope better if I was told for sure that I will never get married than to live with the constant hope and feeling that I ought to be trying to build a relationship and that if I don’t do the right thing (whatever that might be), I will sabotage my chances of love and happiness – I will never be happy and it will all be my fault (I suppose by extension I will be making my would-be wife unhappy too, although I don’t usually follow through to that extent).

* Actually, it seems to me that these things more or less cancel out, although that’s not how they have always been seen.  As I understand it, the whole idea of reincarnation is so that you have an opportunity of earning a reward in the Olam HaBa by suffering in this world.  One might spend hundreds of years here rectifying everything you’ve done wrong, but eventually you will earn Olam HaBa.  Although I suppose in an extreme case one might be denied reincarnation deliberately in order to prevent you getting Olam HaBa.
It has to be said that compared to many (most?) other religions, Judaism is really vague about the soul, the afterlife, reincarnation and the like with such issues either being ignored completely or generating so many contradictory interpretations that it’s hard to know what “the Jewish view” of reincarnation or Heavenly punishment is.  There’s almost nothing on life after death or the soul in Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) and very little in the Talmud.  Many people see this as a feature rather than a bug, that Judaism wants us to focus on the here and now and not worry about the afterlife.

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