It was not a good Shabbos (Shabbat/Sabbath).  Over Friday night dinner, I spoke to my parents about my job situation for longer than I intended.  That at least went OK.  I think they understood where I was coming from more.  Mum was upset that I said in my blog post earlier in the week (I sent her the link and she read it) that they weren’t empathetic about my worries about my ability to do the job I’m being offered, saying they were just trying to get me to see the positive side because I have low self-esteem (more on which below).  The one really useful thing that came up was that someone (I think my Mum) suggested trying to find a careers adviser to find out what practical steps I should take regarding writing or researching.

I got to bed at a reasonable time, shortly after midnight, which is good for a midsummer Shabbat (when I don’t even get home from shul (synagogue) until 8.30pm followed by a three course dinner which takes a while even if we don’t stop between courses for said long conversation about my career).  But I slept through the whole morning, missing shul yet again, and, as my parents were out for lunch, I slept until gone 2.00pm, got up, forced myself to eat some cereal to try to get some energy, failed to get energy and went back to bed for a while.  I then slept for two or three hours after lunch, so I’m unlikely to sleep much tonight.  I think the combination of heat and depression was not good for me.  I also had weird dreams.  They were  too stream of consciousness-style to adequately describe, but they were clearly anxiety dreams, at least on some level, about being a writer/researcher focusing on Doctor Who, about my holiday in New York and fears of getting lost or being mugged and about my worries about the political situation in Israel.  One thing that probably doesn’t come across on this blog that maybe did on earlier ones (for the two people still following me from my first blog) is that I tend to take antisemitism and the Arab-Israeli conflict very seriously and act as if I could stop them, if only I could understand and explain them properly, which is flawed on many levels.  (There is a psychological term that I can’t remember for thinking that tragic global events are your fault, but that’s not quite what I mean.)

Speaking of which, I was reflecting that some people with depression get depersonalisation, where they feel like a detached observer of themselves.  I have had this in the past, occasionally tied in with possible psychotic mini-episodes (mini because only lasting a couple of seconds), but most often I get the reverse.  I guess that would solipsism, for want of a better word, where my sense of existence and my thought processes are so absorbing that it’s hard to really remember that the rest of the world exists.  I guess that would probably be an autistic thing as much as a depressive one.  My inner monologue is very “loud,”  for want of a better word, and I often want to compare it with that of other people, out of curiosity and a bit of arrogance as much as anything.  Am I more self-critical, self-aware, intellectual, profound than other people?  I don’t know.

Anyway, I got up so late and was so depressed and exhausted, that I missed Shacharit (the morning service) entirely and did a tiny bit of Musaf (the extra Shabbat service, normally said right after Shacharit) at 7.30pm, which is probably some kind of a record.  I did make it to shul in the evening for shiur (Talmud class) and Mincha, seudah, the other shiur and Ma’ariv (the afternoon service, the third Sabbath meal, another class and the evening service).  I felt pretty bad during, and probably as a result of, the second shiur.  I just feel so inadequate.

This feeling of inadequacy is usually partly because of my  career issues and single state (the fact that Talmud shiur was partly on why praying to have a good (=righteous, I guess/hope) wife is the most important thing anyone can pray for (according to one rabbi)) didn’t help.  However, today it was more about my moral and religious standing.  I just feel so wicked and reprehensible.  The other people at shul all seem to be more or less sorted religiously and working on very trivial aspects of their personality and divine service and I’m performing pretty much every major aveirah (sin) and missing out most of the positive mitzvot (commandments).  I feel everyone would be disgusted with me if they knew what I think and do.

I once asked my rabbi mentor (who knows most of my bad side) if he thinks I’m a good person/Jew, but his counselling training kicked in and he just turned the question around and asked me what type of person I think I am.  I just feel like such a lousy person.  E. said I had lots of good points, but they ultimately weren’t enough.  My Mum only came up with two good points that I have yesterday.  I think that’s probably stretching it a bit.  I don’t really feel that I have any good points, even on a secular ‘being a good person’ level, let alone a frum (religious) ‘keeping taryag mitzvot’ (all the commandments) level.  If I have not done anything absolutely awful (and I think I probably have, on balance), it’s only from lack of opportunity.

It’s funny, in a strange way.  I’ve never really known what I want to do on a career level or had any ambitions in that sense, but for years I’ve wanted to be a tzaddik (saintly person), but the more I try, the further away I realise I am.  Sadly, you can’t go to a careers advisor to learn how to be a tzaddik.  I guess you would have to go to yeshiva or to a rebbe.  I’m not sure that’s a guarantee of anything though, as I’ve seen some people who come out of yeshiva with flaws.

Ugh, this is turning into a silly rambling post.  Matthue Roth (author of several books I should read, but haven’t yet) once told me off on for calling my writing ‘bilge.’  But this post really is bilge.

2 thoughts on “Fear and Self-Loathing in North-West London

  1. I would disagree regarding the bilge. As an atheist one thing I’ve always had a hard time wrapping my head around is the highly prescriptive nature of certain religious belief systems. The proscriptive side makes more sense to me; sort of a this is bad, don’t do it kind of approach. But to this atheist mind the idea that one is supposed to do A through Z to satisfy a divine being is much harder to grasp. I like that your posts always get me thinking about this kind of thing.


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