In Why Bad Things Don’t Happen to Good People, Rabbi Shaul Rosenblatt distinguishes between pain and suffering. “When pain matters to us more than anything else, we suffer. When it does not, we do not. The more we have in life that matters to us over and above the pain, the more that pain recedes into the background. When nothing matters more than the pain we are going through, it comes into intense focus and overwhelms us. That overwhelmingness, we refer to as suffering.”
I don’t know what I can do any more to move on from my pain. My job just makes me feel worse. I want to help people, but I don’t know how. In any case, my friends and family rarely turn to me when in need (possibly they think I’m too selfish, autistic or incompetent to be of any use). I desperately want to have a wife and children to love and give to and (I’ll admit it) to love me, but it looks like it’s never going to happen. I don’t really have any other ambitions, except perhaps to write, which I also struggle with. I can’t seem to move on in my life at all.
Rabbi Rosenblatt says that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in this world only relate to God. Something that brings us closer to God is good, even if it’s painful; something that moves us away from God is bad, even if it’s pleasurable. I feel my depression driving me away from God. It stops me praying with kavannah (mindfulness), with a minyan (quorum) or, sometimes, from praying at all. It stops me studying Torah, the primary ongoing religious obligation on Jewish men. It stops me building a family. It stops me doing mitzvot (commandments) and acts of kindness. It makes me angry and distrustful of God. And I don’t know how to move on from this.
I think Rabbi Rosenblatt gets on to trust in HaShem (God) later in the book. I haven’t got to that bit yet, but I skimmed ahead a bit. I know that, because of some things that happened in my childhood, I can’t trust God and I don’t know how to get around that. I understand what happened to me as a child and I can see how the events that made me distrust God do not logically prove that God is not worthy of being trusted, but I can’t undergo the emotional catharsis to move on. For years I’ve been thanking God for five or more things every day (something else Rabbi Rosenblatt suggests, although I was already doing it), but I still find it hard to trust that He loves me or wants good things for me or that He won’t overwhelm me with suffering. I feel that, like Charlie Brown and Lucy, every time I come to kick the ball, HaShem moves the ball away at the last moment and I fall on my back again, usually in the form of another episode of depression (although sometimes He throws other things at me, instead of or as well as the depression, to keep me on my toes e.g. my OCD).
I feel that I want to give, but I can’t. My social anxiety holds me back from reaching out to people who need help. My friends and family, as I’ve said, rarely come to me with their problems. Unfortunately I do know people with similar problems to my own, but as I said, I’m generally not the person they call when they’re down, although I do try to text or email when they’re down or I haven’t heard from them for a while. I guess many of them have other friends, siblings or spouses who look after them better than I could. And it looks like there isn’t anyone out there who wants me to be her husband, even though I want so much to be there for someone (this is actually a somewhat dangerous thought, as it means I get attracted to people who I think need ‘rescuing’, which isn’t particularly healthy, doubly so as I feel that only someone with serious issues would accept dating someone with as many issues as I have).
I’m trying to entertain the idea that things might turn out well, even if they will probably turn out very differently to how I would currently like. It’s hard though. I strongly suspect that I won’t get any of the things that I think would make me happy; I just hope I can find something that makes me genuinely happy instead. Otherwise life seems an endless cycle of disappointment. The problem is that I can’t attain even the things that I think would make me genuinely happy (religious growth, real love) let alone more transient things that make life bearable for people.