I am not, by nature, an angry person.  I am arguably one of those people who turns his anger inwards as depression and OCD.  At the moment, I feel the angriest I’ve ever been with HaShem (God).  Usually I cool off quickly and apologise (often without thinking I’m in the wrong.  I just can’t stand the tension and feel I have to apologise), but here I calm down and then I start up all over again a few hours later.  I get triggered by thoughts of loneliness and despair, thoughts that I am wasting my life and by feeling obliged to try to get the energy and motivation to study Torah or daven (pray).

The worst of it is that ultimately I know that He’s right.  I don’t just believe in God, I believe specifically in an immanent, omniscient, omnipotent, benevolent God, so that anything that happens to me has been deliberately allowed to occur by Him because it is the best possible thing that could happen to me right now.  And that just makes me furious, because why should the best possible thing to happen to me be my feeling lonely and despairing?  It’s like arguing with your parents when you know they’re right, but you can’t back down without losing face.  It’s even worse than losing an argument when you know you’re right, because at least you have a certain amount of dignity and self-esteem there.  Here I just feel like an idiot, complaining about something that I know I have no right to complain about.  No one ever told me that life was going to be easy and it’s stupid of me to want it to be.

I feel that I can’t go on much more.  I’m too lonely, depressed and hopeless to live like this forever.  I just want something to change, but I don’t know what to do.  Contrary to the magical thinking (segulot) that permeate much of contemporary Orthodoxy, I don’t think I can force God’s hand.  As for prayer… I once gave a fifteen minute drasha (religious talk) on prayer, setting forth three different perspectives on prayer and what it does.  1) Prayer is a mechanism by which we can change ourselves and become worthy of what we want (Rav Hirsch); 2) prayer is a method of creating community (Rav Soloveitchik); 3) prayer is a method of building a relationship with HaShem (Rebbe Nachman of Breslov).  The community aspect isn’t relevant here.  The idea of prayer as a vehicle for growth is problematic for me right now because I don’t have the energy or motivation to grow any more.  And as for building a relationship with God… well, at the moment I want to shout at Him or just sulk because I don’t know what to say.  I’ve hardly done any hitbodedut meditation/spontaneous prayer over the last few days because I don’t have anything to say to Him any more.

I feel ridiculously silly, but I can’t calm down.  Every time I feel that I could be this lonely and depressed for the rest of my life, I get angry all over again.  It reminds me of my least favourite moment in one of my least favourite Doctor Who stories, The End of Time, where the Doctor, realising that he is going to have to give up his life (ish) to save his friend goes into a huge sulk and complains that it’s not fair.  It’s a horrible moment bereft of all heroism and dignity (I’m not a great fan of the tenth Doctor or David Tennant, but they deserved better).  That’s how I feel.  I know I’m posturing like an adolescent.  I know.  But I can’t help it, because I really feel on the brink.

I’ve been told that it’s OK to be angry with God, it’s even an argument I’ve used myself, but I still feel silly, especially as I suspect some of the anger is really directed at E., or at my situation in general, but I can’t express it to them, so it gets turned on God instead.

Here we segue from the very embarrassing part of the post to the incredibly embarrassing part.

I also feel (and this is not new) a lot of anxiety and guilt about sex, which probably feeds into the anger against God for keeping me single.  I feel guilty whenever I feel attracted to anyone, for feminist reasons as much as religious ones.   I have heard lately about involuntarily celibate men turning into women-hating monsters.  I remember after the Fort Hood shooting, an irresponsible newspaper article listed five signs of serial killers, and I had all five.  I’ve had a girlfriend now, so I guess I’m 20% less likely to become a misogynistic serial killer, but I worry about myself sometimes.  This is doubtless pure O OCD again, as I don’t think I’m realistically likely to turn into a a serial killer (misogynist or otherwise), but I do have a lot of hang ups about sex, questions and anxieties and also fear of being alone forever.

I’m not sure if my hang ups are the cause or the result of being a virgin at thirty-five (OK, strictly speaking I’m thirty-four for another couple of weeks, but unless my life changes in a series of radical ways, it will still stand).  It’s possible that they both feed each other and grow, which is a depressing thought.  It occurs to me that by this stage this is probably going to be another reason why I will end up single forever; any frum woman would be shocked by how jaded and impure I am, while any non-frum woman would doubtless find me laughably naive and inexperienced.  I’m beginning to suspect that sex is never going to be something I could be fully comfortable with, even if I get married.

It’s fairly safe to say that I have a lot of powerful emotions that I’m not allowed to express, either by circumstances, upbringing, religion or personality, and that these eat away inside me.  I’m not quite sure what I can do about this, except talk about it a lot in therapy and try to work through it that way.  I mostly feel too inhibited to blog about it.  I’m not even sure what I’m going to do with this post.  I can’t really express myself in fiction or poetry, let alone art or music, although I wish I could.

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3 thoughts on “Corrosive

  1. I’m not religious but to me some of the things you were saying didn’t make sense. You say God is omnipotent and benevolent, meaning he is capable of doing anything and he is good. So why does he allow so much suffering if he is good and capable of changing it? I don’t think God chose the best possible life for you, because if he did he simply would have given you a better life because he is omnipotent and good. As an atheist I think some people just have it harder than others for no reason at all, meaning you don’t deserve all the suffering you are going through and no one has allowed for it to happen. I hope I’m not insulting you or your beliefs because that is really not my intent, this is just my view on the world.

    I also think that maybe you are putting too much pressure on yourself to be a good Jew. I understand religion is a very important part of your identity, but maybe it is dangerous to completely unify your self-worth with your religiousness, because no one is perfect and 100% pure. From what I have read on your blog I think you are probably a good person. In my opinion a good person is someone who is kind and respectful to other people and does not do or wish to do other people any harm. You say you feel guilty about your feelings of lust, but everyone has those feelings. As long as you don’t act on them against another person’s will I don’t see the harm in it. But that is just my opinion. I also understand that you are afraid non-religious people will laugh at your virginity at age 35. I know some will, but those are not good people and they blindly follow society’s ridiculous standards of toxic masculinity. Being a virgin or not does not define your worth. My boyfriend was a virgin at age 27 before we were together and he felt very ashamed about it because other people would always laugh at him as if it defined his masculinity. But I really didn’t care and I wouldn’t have cared if he had had 30 previous partners either. People who really love you won’t judge you for being a virgin – or for having lustful thoughts and feelings because those feelings are human and ultimately the reason why the human race succesfully spread.

    I think the best thing you can do for yourself is choosing to love the people that truly love you, and those people will love you either way. I don’t know anything about Judaism but do you believe God loves you? Because if he does, why would he judge you so harshly? I thought love was all about forgiveness and understanding and accepting.

    Again, I hope this does not come across as offensive and disrespectful because I’m really ignorant about religion as I was raised an atheist. But I find your blog very interesting and am interested to know more about your religion.

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  2. You don’t come across as offensive or disrespectful. Thanks for leaving such a long comment. I’m glad you find my blog interesting.

    You say God is omnipotent and benevolent, meaning he is capable of doing anything and he is good. So why does he allow so much suffering if he is good and capable of changing it

    I used to think that that meant that there must be some good I could get out of it, that it would help me grow or bring me to where I needed to be or something. But it is getting harder to believe that. But I do strongly believe in God still, so I guess it’s producing a lot of cognitive dissonance, like I believe two contradictory things.

    maybe it is dangerous to completely unify your self-worth with your religiousness

    You may be right. No one really spoke to me about self-esteem when I was growing up. I was left to figure things out for myself and I may have ended up with some unhelpful ideas either from my environment or that I came up with. I wrote a bit about this in the post I wrote today, but then I deleted that paragraph before posting, because I was worried it would upset some people, but I do feel I didn’t have enough emotional support as a child and that made me feel worthless, that I didn’t deserve to be loved, otherwise more people would love me.

    I do believe God loves me, but it’s hard to feel it, probably from childhood reasons again. My childhood taught me that no one could love me unconditionally, and that even the people who said they loved me could walk out on me and it wouldn’t even be my fault. I don’t really know about love being forgiveness and acceptance. I think I would find it easier to believe that God could love a very wicked person than me. I suppose I would find reasons why someone wasn’t really so wicked, but I find it hard to believe that anyone could find reasons to love me.

    Thanks for commenting.

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