I’ve been up and down again today. I slept late again, after insomnia last night, which turned out to be because I’d forgotten to take my meds (I fell asleep around 3am, after taking them). At times today I’ve been OK, but I tried doing some Torah study earlier and started crying. I still feel very depressed. There wasn’t an obvious trigger.
I did manage about half an hour of Torah study in the end. It feels too little, particularly after what I wrote yesterday about “toiling” in Torah study in order to learn anything, but I just don’t feel able to do any more. Am I being lazy? Or beating myself up too much? I don’t know. My rational brain says I can force myself to do more, but the emotional side of me feels overloaded and unable to go on. My self-esteem generally is low and I feel that I’m just not doing enough of anything at the moment: I didn’t job hunt today or do much Torah study or work on my books (except for watching Doctor Who: Demons of the Punjab for research for my book; I did work out why I don’t really like it, but that’s not entirely relevant to either this post or the book, although it was oddly mirrored by Michael Weingrad’s article today on Game of Thrones for the Jewish Review of Books). All I did, aside from that half-hour of Torah study was a few Shabbat chores and some dusting, plus I’m hoping to go to shul (synagogue) in an hour.
I feel jealous of people who love Torah study, particularly men who love, and are good at, Talmudic study. It must make being frum (religious Orthodox Jewish) so much easier and more enjoyable, just as it seems easier to be extrovert, and especially neurotypical, in such a community-based religion. The assistant rabbi was speaking last night of spending hours studying with his chevruta (study partner), tearing just a few lines of Talmudic text to pieces and putting back together again in myriad ways until the understand it, and how disgusted he feels afterwards with the simplified “for dummies” explanations in the Artscroll Talmud edition commentary. I can’t even understand the Artscroll explanations and I certainly can’t function with a chevruta, which is supposed to be the ideal Jewish way to study.
It’s funny, I tend to assume that I have no share in Olam HaBa (the World to Come i.e. Heaven). Partly it’s that I can’t imagine anything that good happening to me (everything in my life goes wrong sooner or later, usually sooner), but also our images of Heaven – the Heavenly yeshiva where everyone studies Torah with HaShem (God), the great banquet, the circle dance around HaShem – they are all communal images. True they are only metaphors, there isn’t a literal yeshiva, feast or dance in Heaven, but whenever I try to imagine myself in the images, it’s just awful. I can’t study yeshiva-style, I get overloaded by the noise and the people and am too shy to say anything even if I understand the subject matter. I hate parties and avoid them; when I do I’m left standing by the fringes (which I read the other day is what happens if you earn a not-so-good place in Olam HaBa). And, as I noted recently, I hate circle dancing (not that I like any other type either); again, I leave early on Simchat Torah to avoid it. I feel that Olam HaBa, if by some miracle I find myself there, will probably turn out to be like a shul Shabbat (Sabbath) dinner: I’ll feel uninspired and lonely while everyone else is having a great time, connecting with HaShem and bonding with their friends and family.
I feel more than ever that I want a frum wife who could help me grow religiously, but there’s zero chance of anyone frum wanting to go out with me. The last two women I dated were not frum. I don’t even know how I would even meet someone frum, and I’m sure she would not be interested in me. My parents just feed my fantasy that I could only marry someone whose previous relationships were severely dysfunctional or abusive by suggesting that I’ll meet someone who isn’t interested in a ‘typical’ frum guy because of a bad previous experience, but I can’t see why she would not want to meet someone frum and a nice person. Unless she isn’t interested in being frum at all, in which case I still wouldn’t be suitable. If I make up extreme examples of reasons why no one would marry me, my parents produce equally bizarre and unlikely examples of women who might be interested in me. I’m not convinced by them.
I’ve been using dysfunctional coping strategies for dealing with difficult feelings. Doubtless this will include eating too much junk over Shabbat (the Sabbath). I feel sinful (not for eating, for other things), but feeling sinful just makes it worse because I’m even more likely to react in a dysfunctional way out of guilt, low self-esteem and self-loathing.