I’m off work for the end of term holidays. I don’t feel particularly depressed or anxious (despite waiting to hear back from my rabbi mentor about a couple of Pesach (Passover) anxieties – I suspect he is going to be out of email contact until after Pesach now), but I do feel exhausted. I behaved a bit in a way that I wish I hadn’t done, which was probably a delayed reaction to the stresses of the last few weeks and especially the last few days. Then I had to ask my rabbi a technical (non-OCD) question and felt like a fraud for making myself appear frum (religious) after behaving in a less than ideal way. The reality is that I have spiritual ascents and descents, same as most people who aren’t either tzadikim (saints) or completely wicked, but I feel like a fraud whenever I do things that I consider wrong.
I did some creative writing for the first time in ages, forcing myself to spend half an hour writing something I’ve been thinking about for a while, a sort of fact/fiction fantasy/memoir hybrid. I don’t think it’s going to work, but I thought I would pursue it for a while, especially as I decided not to work on my Doctor Who book this week (it felt wrong to write it on Chol HaMoed as I intend to write it for profit). I kept stopping to look at my emails or things online. I don’t have this problem with my Doctor Who book or blogging. I don’t know if this was because I feel so exhausted or because fiction (or “fiction”) is much harder for me to write than non-fiction. I don’t know where I’m going with the fiction and I don’t trust myself to get there, which is not really a problem I have with non-fiction. I hope to write for half an hour every day except Shabbat and Yom Tov (the Sabbath) for the two weeks of my holiday. If I can do that, I should end up with about 5000 words by the end of my holiday, if I write at the same rate as today (which is a big assumption) which might give me an idea of whether to continue with this. I’m still trying to work out if God really wants me to write, and if so what He wants me to write. I remember what David Bowie said, that the worst joke God can play on you is to make you an artist, but a mediocre artist. That seems to apply to me a lot. Although I’m not quite sure that I see that as the worst thing in my life. I could cope with being a mediocre writer if I was happier and more fulfilled in other areas e.g. my religious life, my social life.
Today was full of other frustrations. I wanted to go to shul for Mincha and Ma’ariv (afternoon and evening services), but felt too tired. I wanted to watch some of A for Andromeda, the 1960s British TV science fiction serial, but I feel too tired for half-reconstructed, half-audio only sixties science fiction and opted for something less challenging. Still, I haven’t felt this calm at Pesach for many years, so I probably shouldn’t complain. The day does feel a bit of a waste, though, and I wonder if I should make plans to Do Something on a couple of days over the next two weeks.
I feel lonely again. It probably didn’t help that I watched Superbob, a film I bought on DVD to watch at Pesach last year, but was too anxious to watch, a low-budget British comedy about a lonely superhero going on his first date in six years, quite funny, in a very British way, but also about loneliness and geeky people who can’t get dates even if they have superpowers (“I just got to be myself, right?” “Not if you want her to like you.”). And I also read an essay by Rabbi Lord Sacks about Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs/Song of Solomon) and romantic love in Judaism from the introduction to his Pesach Mahzor (festival prayer book). However, I was pretty lonely before I did either of these things, so something else must have triggered it, not that it takes much to make me feel lonely.
I think I’ve written before that I think there are different types of loneliness e.g. loneliness for friends, loneliness for community. I feel the loneliness for a spouse most often and particularly today. I don’t know why I feel it today. It’s not as bad as many times in the past, but it’s there. I don’t know if it’s being around my sister and her new husband the last few days or just coincidence. One of my non-biological sisters sent me some links about introversion, which confirmed what I already knew, which is that you can be an introvert and lonely because introverts aren’t misanthropists, they just need intimate relationships and deep conversations, not superficial relationships and banal small talk. Even being around a loved one without talking is good for an introvert.
I feel I am no closer to finding my other half. To be honest, over the last few days I have been thinking that I should deliberately avoid dating for a while, until I at least try to work on my social anxiety some more. The problem is that if I do that, it could easily be a year or more until I start dating again, dependent on my success (or otherwise) at working on the social anxiety and my employment situation in the coming months. I don’t know if I could bear that and certainly it would make it even less likely that I will be able to have children, assuming I marry a woman around my own age. Plus I feel I should date in the spring and summer, because my mood then is likely to be better than the autumn and winter, so if I miss the coming window of opportunity, it could be another six months before one comes around again. Even if I’m sceptical of my rabbi mentor’s theory that if I become more sociable, people in my community will automatically start setting me up on dates with women like me, I guess it makes sense not to do an intensely social thing until I have improved my social anxiety. But there is also the fear of procrastination and of waiting until things are perfect, which they never will be.
I guess that in my head there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ reasons for wanting to be in a relationship or get married. For example, wanting to be in a relationship simply to have sex isn’t likely to lead to a successful relationship, nor is wanting to get married just because it’s a mitzvah (religious commandment) whereas wanting to be in a relationship to give to someone else or to grow as a person or to have a deep and intimate relationship with someone are more likely to lead to a lasting marriage (although still a scary number of marriages end in divorce, even in the frum community, where divorce is less common). The problem is, all the reasons are jumbled up and confused in my head. There are some where I’m not sure if they’re good or bad reasons (e.g. wanting to have children), but more often the good and bad reasons are mixed together. I know that I want to have a deep and intimate relationship with someone. I also know that I want to have sex and that probably I wouldn’t be a normal heterosexual young male if I didn’t. But does the latter wipe out the validity of the former? It’s hard to unscramble these things in my head, especially as sex is such a primal driving force. I also find it hard to believe that frum people who get married in their early twenties or even late teens (which seems ridiculously young to me) are motivated entirely by love and the desire to give and grow, rather than, at least in part, things like peer pressure, social conformity, libido, lack of other options and the assumption that this is what you do (I suspect that the supposed “shidduch crisis,” if it really exists, is caused at least in part by people marrying later because, consciously or unconsciously, they aren’t ready or willing to get married at nineteen or twenty).
I also find myself wondering about people who used to read this blog who I haven’t heard from for a while. I wonder if I have said something to offend them and chase them away or if they just got bored of my negativity. It feels sometimes like people drift in and out of my life and it’s hard to find a way to get people I like to stay.
Oh well. It feels like the words are chasing themselves round and round on the page today without actually making any sense. I’ve been cutting and editing, but it’s hard to say what I feel today, not least because I’m not really sure what I feel and I want to talk about publicly and what I want to hold on to by myself for now. So, I suppose, bed now.