I’m trying to get back in the habit of writing more regularly again. I’ve had a few emotionally draining days, but I don’t really want to go into details here. Suffice to say that, while it’s all resolved now, I wasn’t surprised that I was burnt out today and slept through the morning and missed shul (synagogue) again. I feel bad about it, but I don’t think there’s much I can do about it at the moment. I slept again after lunch, so I’m not sure how I will sleep tonight. It didn’t help that we start dinner late on Friday nights at the moment because Shabbat (the Sabbath) starts so late in the middle of the summer and we usually spend a long time over Shabbat meals, generally for good reasons (we have a good time and talk a lot) but then we finish and I usually still have Torah study and hitbodedut meditation/prayer to do and I need a few minutes of what I call my ‘introvert time’ – time to unwind by myself. So most Friday nights in the summer I get to bed any time between midnight and one in the morning, after a day that has included a lot of draining activities for me (therapy, being around people in shul and at home), so it’s not surprising that I oversleep the next day, even though I really want to get back into shul attendance. I probably need a new strategy, but I don’t know what.
My OCD has got a bit worse lately. Not really bad, but it is more noticeable. It’s mostly ‘pure O’ OCD, so stuff in my head rather than wanting to do nullifying actions of some kind, although there still can be checking behaviours, either going over stuff with other people or in my head. It’s hard, but I’m trying not to let it take over. I know where it’s coming from. Just as my first clear bout of religious OCD was triggered by the stress of moving house three years ago, I’m sure that this is triggered by my relationship with E. Obviously a serious relationship that could lead to marriage is a major life change even without the fact that in E. and my case there are the complications of the relationship being long-distance and the fact that we have different levels of religious observance. So my OCD is increasing in response to the stress, but the relationship is too good for me to let it win! I’m trying to remember the coping strategies that I learnt from my CBT therapist, using my ‘wise mind’ (logic) against my ‘OCD mind’ and telling myself that even when I think X (e.g. that I could become a violent person), that “That’s just a thought, and a thought can’t hurt me.” It is hard though.
The shiur (class) at shul this afternoon over seudah shlishit (the third meal) was about desires. I couldn’t follow all of it, as it started at 9.30pm and I was tired and had a bit of a headache, but part of it was about replacing desires for physical things with desires for spiritual things. Apparently a barometer for how spiritual we are is how much we desire to do Torah study, prayer, mitzvah (commandment) performance and acts of kindness as opposed to doing them by rote. I score very badly on this at the moment, as my enthusiasm for all of them has dried up in recent years. I still believe in God and Torah and I still want to be a religious Jew, but I just get no ‘buzz’ out of it. It’s hard to be sure that I ever did. I’ve mentioned before that the rabbi from my shul feels that I won’t get any simcha shel mitzvah (joy of performing the commandments) while I’m depressed, but my rabbi mentor thinks I should be able to get some.
I’m not sure where this leaves me, especially as I think I’m always going to be depressed, at least on some level. It probably makes me want to get married and start a family even more, as I feel I failed at Torah study and davening (praying) and mitzvot and acts of kindness, so the one frummy (religious) thing I haven’t tried is having a family. I haven’t failed at that one yet! But it does make me worry that I would fail at that too. Trying to be more positive, E. says I’m a supportive boyfriend, so I’m apparently not failing there, surprisingly, and certainly she is an amazingly supportive girlfriend to me, so that would hopefully be a base from which to grow religiously, if we could find the right community that fits both our needs (this is IF we get married, which is still some way away! Don’t leap to conclusions yet!). Also, even though I’m usually super self-critical, I have a gut instinct that I would be a good father. Certainly a number of people have told me that I’m good with children or that they think I would be a good father. So it’s not just a case of hoping I would succeed at something I haven’t tried yet. And I still have some ideas for writing projects that I haven’t tried yet, and which E. is really encouraging me about, projects that might give me a way to tie my religious and non-religious areas of my life together better.
But as with the relationship itself, this is all in the future. I’m trying to just live in the present and at the moment, while the present has some bad things (work), it has some very, very good things (E. and my current writing project). But it is very hard not to worry about the future at all, particularly when I am a pessimist and a worrier by nature.