I worry that I may have lost a – well, friend is too strong a word, but friendly acquaintance – by owning up to my weaknesses/bad habits. I nearly owned up to them publicly, or rather, I did, but then tried to retract what I said. I have a pathological need for confession and absolution, and probably a desire to be hated by others as I hate myself by revealing my shortcomings. This only applies online, though. In person I can’t even admit to things that aren’t particularly shaming like my mental health or geekyness.
I feel like Boxer the horse from Animal Farm. I beat myself up endlessly about my moral and religious failings and I keep telling myself “I must work harder” just as Boxer was always saying “I will work harder”. But it never works. Perhaps I work as hard, or harder, at my religious and moral life than most people (or most frum (religious) Jews), but the results are much less. I try to judge myself based on my effort (which according to the Talmud is what God judges), but it’s hard. I can’t accurately measure my own effort, let alone anyone else’s; I can measure outcomes. I can see that I’m not going to shul (synagogue) as often as others, that I’m not studying Torah as much and so on.
So I try to work harder, but I can’t because I’m already at my emotional limit, if not beyond it (all that crying must signify something). My rabbi said (at Ne’ilah on Yom Kippur, the holiest time of the year) that making resolutions to do more were pointless as they won’t work; we should be doing things better and smarter than before, using our existing routines and schedules in a better way to get more out of the year. Don’t try to study an hour of Talmud each day when you get home exhausted, but use your half hour train journey to do it instead. This is probably good advice, but I’m not sure where I have the free capacity at the moment to follow it. I don’t know what I can actually change right now.