I seem to be stuck in a rut, getting neither better nor worse. Last night in shul (synagogue) I was thinking of writing a bitter, sarcastic post about not fitting into the frum (religious Orthodox Jewish) community, but today I don’t feel so bitter, although I’m still pessimistic. The frum world is a community where one fits in largely by contributing. There are various different roles available, but I can’t find one that suits me. I don’t earn enough to be a big philanthropist, I don’t have the confidence to lead services (although I have in the past), my social anxiety keeps me away from a lot of chessed (social care) opportunities and so on… I feel there must be something I’m good at that contributes meaningfully, but I can’t find it. Even my blog seems to be read more by non-Jews than Jews, which wasn’t really what I expected (I think the number of Jewish blogs has declined in recent years, but that could be a subjective impression or reflective of my own reading habits. They may have been crowded out by professional or semi-professional sites like Hevria, Tablet, The Wisdom Daily and Mosaic.)
Today yet again I knew answers in shiurim (religious classes), but was too shy to speak up. There’s a guy in one shiur I go to who seems to like the sound of his own voice too much. He knows a lot, but he does speak more than anyone else, both asking and answering questions (and sometimes answering questions that were asked of the rabbi before he can answer). This is starting to really annoy me, but I’m sure it’s only because his over-answering throws makes my shyness look even worse.
I spoke to my parents about dating last night. It was a mistake, because it was me playing ‘Ain’t it awful’ again and getting annoyed when the disagreed, but I guess some good came out of it. First, my Mum said that the woman she was trying to set me up with lives in America, so I’m not quite sure why she even got mentioned. I asked my parents if they thought I would ever get married and they both said yes. I knew my Dad would, because he’s dreamt about my being married and having children, and he thinks his dreams are precognitive (I disagree). I still don’t think I’m going to get married, but in the course of the discussion we did come up with the name of one Modern Orthodox rabbi (and Doctor Who fan) who might be able to find me a suitable shadchan. It does seem hard though as I have two separate (although not contradictory) set of criteria: within the category of frum women, I want to find someone who is geeky (or at least tolerates my geekiness), but I also need to find someone who accepts my mental health issues. It’s hard to go in both directions at the same time. My Mum tried to encourage me to go back to dating websites or to try dating apps, but I’m wary of them. My experience was that dating websites are expensive and, for whatever reason, women were generally not interested in me (either in contacting me or responding to emails I sent them), although to be fair I met my first girlfriend through J-Date. I actually had more success on J-Date than I did on J-Wed (which is a more specifically frum site geared particularly for dating for marriage rather than just looking to date generally), which seemed counter-intuitive. Mind you, I’m not sure whether I had a reasonable sample size in terms of numbers of people and amount of time I was on there. I still don’t think they’re the way to find geeky and/or mental health-tolerant individuals, although I’m not sure what a better way to do that would be.
I read various online cartoons every day. I saw a Peanuts cartoon today (obviously not a new new one, but one newly on this site) where Peppermint Patty refers to Charlie Brown as “boring, dull, wishy-washy ol’ Chuck” and says that no one could love him, not knowing that he is hiding nearby. I feel that one could say the same things about me. Actually the very first Peanuts cartoon reads “Well! Here comes ol’ Charlie Brown! Good ol’ Charlie Brown! Yes, sir! Good ol’ Charlie Brown… How I hate him!” I worry that that’s me too.
(It also slightly disturbs me nowadays that all the children in Peanuts are in love with each other. Patty loves Charlie Brown, Sally is in love with Linus (“My sweet babboo”), Lucy is in love with Schroeder and of course Charlie Brown is in love with the Little Red-Haired Girl who we never see. (The bird Woodstock once tragically fell in love with a worm.) This never bothered me as a child, but it does bother me as an adult. I also have a horrible feeling that one day I’m going to buy the Complete Peanuts books, which run to twenty-five volumes and will cost serious £££ (that’s serious $$$$$ if you’re American).
A couple of people have told me lately that I’m a good person. I find that really hard to believe, especially as no one ever gives me concrete examples of the good things I’m supposed to have done. I don’t know why they believe I’m a good person; it’s certainly not a belief I’ve ever tried to spread. And I think about sex far too much for a frum person, although to be fair people who don’t read my blog won’t know that, as I don’t talk about sex at all.
I had a weird dream last night. I don’t remember all the details, but my boss from my old job was my step-mother (yuk!) and she was telling me off for various things and I answered her back and said she had no right to tell me what to do. I’m hoping that means that my resolution to reduce my negative self-talk has gone down to a deep level, although so far all I’ve really been able to do is try to be consciously aware of my self-critical thoughts rather than challenge them. I still worry that if I don’t beat myself up all the time, I’m going to turn into a narcissist. I did just send an email to find out if a nearby therapy centre could potentially offer me CBT for my low self-esteem.
Tomorrow I’m writing a job application and talking to my rabbi mentor and, if I get time, trying to catch up with the pile of stuff that has built up over the Yom Tov (festival) period. The job actually looks like a good one, primarily cataloguing, fairly easy commute and well-paid, but full time, which would be hard.
New Doctor Who in less than twenty-four hours…