I went to bed late last night. Having stayed late talking to someone at autism group, I came home ‘buzzing’ a bit from a successful social interaction (which of course I was over-analysing and over-intellectualising), but also perhaps over-analysing said interaction. There was perhaps likewise mixed feelings of excitement and nervousness about my new job (although that getting the news in the morning seemed a long time ago). I was also hungry, unsurprising as it was 10.00pm by the time I got home and I hadn’t eaten anything other than fruit and a cereal bar since lunch (which admittedly was late). Then I got very tired, but too tired to get to bed quickly, so I eventually crawled into bed about 2.30am and slept for about eleven hours, waking up at 1.30pm feeling very ‘mentally hungover,’ as I get after draining days, especially those involving socialising. I ate some cereal and drank a lot of caffeine (coffee for caffeine, tea for more caffeine and to take away the taste of the coffee, which I don’t like very much and only drink when I need to wake up), then a while later had lunch and more tea, but I still felt pretty wiped out, not just exhausted, but even a little faint. It’s only in the last hour or two that I’ve begun to wake up, just in time for me to need to start winding down, although I have a lot of chores to do (it’s now 9.00pm). It took over an hour to read and sign the contract I had been sent, although that was partly due to my having problems downloading the online signature app.
When I told my parents I had got the job, I said I would relax a bit over the coming days, whereas they felt I should continue with job applications as the new job will only last a few months. I see their point, but I do feel that I need to take a few days to relax and also to catch up on some non-work chores, otherwise I’m not going to last long in the new job before burn out. I’m really bad at doing what I feel to be right when other people have different ideas, but I think I’m probably right here.
One of the things I was thinking about last night was what the person I was talking to at autism group said about unconditional self-love. I find that impossible and I’m not sure how much of that is because I experienced a lot of rejection and bullying growing up and how much is a quasi-religious, feeling that if I love myself I will turn into a selfish person. The Jewish tradition teaches self-love: the rabbis said that the commandment to love our neighbours as ourselves (which Rabbi Akiva, one of the greatest rabbis of the Talmudic period, said is the fundamental principle of the Torah) implies a commandment to love ourselves. I guess I struggle partly from my own personal background and partly because the Kotzker Rebbe, who I admire greatly, also struggled with the idea of self-love, which he was pretty opposed to, but maybe I shouldn’t follow him here (he probably had his own issues – he spent the last nineteen years of his life locked in his study and not seeing many people). Maybe I should read or re-read stuff by or about Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, who also had his own issues, but who taught his Hasidim to find positive points in themselves that they could use to build self-regard. I don’t know. Certainly I feel that, although I still haven’t done a cheshbon nafesh (review of my actions over the last year) and although I still feel a degree of distance from, and even anger towards, God and Judaism, maybe I should make this my one target to work on in the coming Jewish new year, maybe through CBT.
(Although just looking online for things about Rebbe Nachman I see someone has beaten me to my idea of re-writing some of his Tales as children’s stories, which I thought was a really good, original idea! Although as there another three books I want to write (the Doctor Who one I’m working on, the one about Doctor Who comics and the fictionalised misery memoir) perhaps that’s not such a huge issue.)
Talk of cheshbon nafesh makes me realise that this Jewish year I have not been keeping track of my Jewish reading. Looking at Goodreads (which measures according to the Gregorian calendar and doesn’t include keep separate records for my box set Mishnah Zeraim books, of which I have read two or three this year), it looks like I have hardly done any religious reading in the last year, although to be fair I’ve done hardly any reading at all lately (twelve books completed so far in 2018 when normally it would be around forty at this stage of the year, albeit including some graphic novels that don’t take long to read, which I have hardly touched this year). I’m not sure when I finished reading Yechezkel/Ezekiel in Hebrew, but I’ve certainly done hardly any reading of Nakh (the non-Mosaic books of the Hebrew Bible) this year. I’ve read a couple of volumes of Mishnah and I’ve kept up with reading the Torah portion each week, which should take me through all Five Books of Moses by Simchat Torah. Still, it feels a bit pathetic, both the lack of religious and secular/fun reading. I feel that my energy and time are so limited that having a job and working on my blogs (plural now) and my Doctor Who book take a lot of time and energy away from reading, even though reading is really important to me, both in itself and as ‘fuel’ for ideas that I want to write about. I’m not sure what to do about this.
 This is not 100% relevant, so I’m putting it in a footnote, but in his academic biography of Rebbe Nachman, Tormented Master, Arthur Green quotes one of Rebbe Nachman’s last homilies:
The main thing is this: It is forbidden to despair! Even a simple man who cannot study at all, or one who finds himself in a place where he is unable to study, or the like, should in his very simplicity be strong in worship and in the fear of God. Even at that very moment he is receiving life-giving sustenance from the Torah, through the great simple one, the great zaddiq [saintly person], who has himself undergone that simplicity and therefore can sustain them all.
Even he who stands on the very bottom rung, God forbid, or in the very depths of hell, may God protect us, should nevertheless not despair. He should fulfil the Scripture: ‘Out of the belly of the deep I cried’ (Jonah 2:3), and be as strong as he can. Even he will be able to return and receive the Torah’s sustenance, by means of the zaddiq. The main thing is to strengthen yourself whatever way you can, no matter how far you have fallen. If you hold on even just the slightest bit, there is yet hope that you will return to God. (Arthur Green Tormented Master: The Life and Spiritual Quest of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav p. 264)
Green concludes the main section of the biography describing him as “a man who had suffered all the torments of hell in his lifetime, but had refused to give in to ultimate despair.” (p. 265)