Today was a day of mild incompetence (not always my own), punctuated by occasional moments of sheer despair. In one of my despairing moments at work, I thought that I have everything in life except the things that make it worth living: love, joy, companionship. But then I thought, actually, I don’t even have that. I don’t have financial security (my parents still help me out and if my contract is not renewed I will probably have to move back in with them); I don’t have a job I enjoy, let alone a career that I’m progressing with; I have a couple of friends, but mostly long-distance, which is hard; and while I have my physical health up to a point, I’m not sure how easy it is to separate physical and mental/emotional health. Depression leads to a general sense of being worn out and under the weather much of the time, as well as a greater likelihood of infection. I do have the love of my parents and sister, difficult though we find it sometimes to understand each other (mentally ill autistic vs. healthier allistic) and a couple of long-distance friends, which is something, but I want more. Is that selfish of me? Maybe it is, but I don’t think so. I could accept my friendships being long-distance (in some ways communicating by text and email is better for me), but I want to love and be loved.
I also reflected that in another life I might have stayed at Oxford (or gone on to Cambridge, I suppose, although my sister would have killed me if I was there when she was) and fitted in a bit better around academics. At least there are a lot of Aspies there, diagnosed and otherwise. But on getting to Oxford as an undergraduate, I rapidly felt out of my depth and although I did pretty well in my first year exams (missing a first by two marks), a few months later the depression set in (or became more obvious and intrusive) and my grades in my finals were acceptable at best. I never felt like a really first class intellect and I don’t think I could really have been a professional historian. Plus, Oxford and Cambridge are not good places to be Jewishly. The Jewish communities are small, there are no kosher shops, let alone restaurants, and the Oxford Jewish community is pluralistic rather than Orthodox. No mikvah or Jewish schools either, so not good for families. I suppose if I wasn’t frum and had been more academically confident and less depressed, I might have stayed at Oxford as a post-graduate student and met some similarly shy and gauche female post-grad (perhaps in the sciences rather than the humanities so we wouldn’t feel in competition with each other) and been happy. But I don’t think my life is built for happiness.
To be honest, I’m not sure if anyone other than my two exes was ever remotely interested in me romantically (although I know one other woman who says I’m cute), although I find it sufficiently difficult to read body language to be sure. I know a woman recently was really invading my personal space and I couldn’t work out what was going on there. At Oxford I thought someone was attracted to me and made a fool of myself confronting her about it. She now lives two or three doors down the road. I don’t think she remembers me, but maybe she’s just being polite and pretending not to know/see me.
I do remember a weird evening at Oxford. There was a quiz between the Doctor Who Society and the Star Trek Society (this was in my penultimate term, when I was Doctor Who Society president). After the quiz the Doc Soc (as we called ourselves then) went to the pub; we invited Trek Soc, but only their (female) president came. I thought she was looking at me strangely all evening, but thought I was being silly (probably reflecting on my previous embarrassment). When I started walking home afterwards she was suddenly beside me. It turned out we were going in the same direction. When we got to the house she lived in, there was an awkward scene on the doorstep where I wondered if she expected me to kiss her or ask for her phone number or something. Of course, it would have been an unlikely intermarriage: a Whovian and a Trekker. She was almost certainly not Jewish either! Even if I hadn’t been frum (religious), it would probably have been very silly to start anything at that stage, as was approaching exams with my mental health in a terrible state (I was only managing about an hour of work a day). But I do sometimes wonder what on Earth happened/could have happened/was supposed to have happened there.
I find myself thinking sometimes about girls/women I knew in my teens and twenties who I could have asked out but didn’t and how my life might have gone differently if I had, particularly with girls I knew at school, before the depression was really affecting me. I suppose one shouldn’t really think like that, but sometimes I wonder if I had a chance for happiness and lost it already and that my misery is my fault and, more than that, I will get punished (here or in Olam HaBa (the Next World)) for messing up. I sometimes think God should make situations a bit easier to read, at least for the autistic among us.