There was another shul (synagogue) engagement of someone around my age today, albeit this time a divorcee.  I think I once tried to ‘talk’ to her on a dating site (when I didn’t know she was from my shul), only for her to say that I was “too worldly” for her, which reinforced my feeling of having put myself in a position between two worlds (Modern Orthodox and Haredi (ultra-Orthodox)) where no one could be interested in me.  The feeling of “when is it my turn?” never seems to go away, despite my occasional feeling that getting married would not solve my problems and perhaps would worsen them.

In a comment on yesterday’s post, Ashley Leia said, “if you put off dating until you feel you are likeable/acceptable to a woman, but you don’t consider yourself likeable/acceptable full stop, and being unmarried reinforces the idea of being unlikeable/unacceptable, that seems like a vicious circle that’s never going to end. Why not let the potential dates decide for themselves?”

This is probably true, but hard for me to accept.  It just seems so ludicrous to think that anyone could ever love me.  Anyone wanting to marry me would basically be marrying my issues (autism, depression, unemployment and more) and I don’t think I have enough positives in my favour to counter-balance that.  I’m seriously not kind enough or rich enough or clever enough or good-looking enough or frum enough or whatever to be worth marrying in my own right.  So I would basically be marrying someone who wants to care for someone, which isn’t a healthy basis for a relationship.  I know people say you shouldn’t be dating if you don’t love yourself, which pretty much means I will never date again.

I also feel I have exactly as much chance of getting married by doing nothing proactive at all as I have by going to shadchanim, on dating sites or asking women out i.e. no chance at all.

Of course, if I did get married, I would still be depressed and have low self-esteem and my first girlfriend was probably right that I’m frigid (certainly I have autistic issues with touch and intimacy, both physical and emotional), so I could end up in a worse situation than I’m in now.

***

Am I punishing myself too much?  With dating, or rather, not dating, and other things?  I don’t know.  Probably.  There is definitely self-sabotage in not going to shadchanim and not going on dating websites, but there has probably also been self-sabotage in doing those things too, in going to shadchanim and on to dating sites when I didn’t feel ready as well as asking out women who had little in common with me and apparently didn’t like me much (which seems to be most of them).

I’ve had thoughts of self-harm again, yesterday and today.  I haven’t acted on them, at least, not physically, but I feel that, as I try to live my life on multiple levels (physical, spiritual, ethical) there are ways I can hurt myself that don’t involve physical harm, but which can be just as dangerous and lasting, if not more so, at least to someone who believes in the soul.  “For he who lives more life than one/More deaths than one must die.”  I don’t like myself very much.

It’s a number of years since I read The Brothers Karamazov, but there’s a bit in there I’ve been thinking of yesterday and today.  The Karamazovs are all hedonists and libertines except for Alyosha, who is an ascetic, but someone says that, even so, he’s still a Karamazov.  He still has the libertine streak, he just uses it for asceticism.  The idea is that one can be a hedonistic ascetic.  I’m not a hedonist and I’m not really an ascetic, but I do have an ascetic streak, but it’s probably more about punishing myself than withdrawing from the world.  Maybe I’m being too hard on myself again.  I think I probably do like to punish myself, on some level, but then I feel I deserve it.  Sometimes I feel like I want to list all my sins here so no one would read this any more.  When the depression is bad (like now), I just want to hurt myself, physically and perhaps also by shaming myself (I’m not sure if that’s a desire or a fear, maybe both).

I just feel my life isn’t a story that can end well for me.  It’s doubtful that I will ever manage a career, a relationship or a family.  It’s doubtful that my writing will be published (more than the little scraps that have been published).  I don’t perform mitzvot (commandments) or daven (pray) well or study much Torah.  So I’m not sure, without all those things, how my life could ever be worthwhile.  I just feel fouled up beyond all repair.

***

Someone elsewhere on the internet said that if people at my shul (synagogue) won’t accept me, they aren’t worthy of my time.  The problem is that I don’t know if people accept me or not, or where the boundaries of acceptable behaviour lie.  Plus, I don’t have a better community to go to, and you can’t be a frum Jew (certainly not a frum Jewish man) without having a community.  The silly thing is that lately, when I was feeling a bit better, I was beginning to believe people liked me.  I don’t know what I think now.  I also don’t know how much I think people like me because they don’t really know me; if they knew me better, they wouldn’t like me.

***

Otherwise today has been a slow day.  The summer seems to have evaporated and it’s another dreary grey English June day here.  I sent off another job application (for a Knowledge Librarian post at a large company), but all they wanted was my CV, no covering letter to adapt or long application form to fill it.  This was good, as the forms usually just cover the same information as the CV, but in different little boxes making cutting pasting fiddly.

Because I didn’t have any more jobs to apply for, I finished the first draft of the final chapter of my Doctor Who book.  I need to redraft it at some point and it might be worth re-watching some episodes again to help flesh the chapter out; at the same time, the book as a whole needs some serious pruning, so a fourth draft will probably be necessary when I get feedback from my friends.  It does feel never ending at times.  Still, I’m probably on target for my aim of finishing around Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year, in the autumn).

***

I just hate myself and my life, really.

4 thoughts on “Fouled Up

  1. I would like to know too! I had hoped to encounter people like that with my blog, but, as I’ve said before, as far as I can tell, almost none of my regular readers are Jewish.

    The book Calling Out to You is a Jewish book on depression and anxiety; it has some personal accounts in it, but as I recall (it’s a couple of years since I read it) it did not really deal with this issue so much, perhaps because most of the personal accounts are written by women and women’s obligations are somewhat different from men’s, particularly in very Haredi communities (more family-centred than synagogue/study hall-centred). There was some stuff in one account about feeling guilt from buying a TV to watch when depressed.

    I would like to find a book or blog about having high functioning autism in the frum community, but I can’t find one. I’ve found, I think, one article and that’s it.

    Other introverts seem to cope OK, as far as I can tell, but I don’t know how. I think Jews tend culturally not to be particularly introverted. A lot of Jews tend to be loud and boisterous, in my experience.

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  2. I hope it’s okay if I share some of what I see when I read your posts. You tend to see everything in black-and-white. I do the same thing and always have to fight against it. When you write about yourself and what you think your appeal is to others, especially women, it’s as if everything is divided neatly into two categories–one in which you have all of these qualities that you think will make women want you and one in which you bring nothing to the table due to autism, depression, and anxiety. But you completely don’t mention that you are bright (yes, you are!), caring, analytical, sensitive and loyal. Those are things women want, too.

    Do you have any hobbies that would lend themselves more to social interaction? I think it’s wonderful you’re writing a book. What about a writing group in which you share your writing and help critique others’ writings? Do you like to hike, take photographs, play a musical instrument, or something else? I have to think you can’t go wrong by pursuing your passions. You end up doing things that make you happy (or happier, anyway), and there’s the added chance of meeting someone and falling in love. Plus you are much more appealing to other people when you have wide and varied interests.

    A quotation that pops into my head every day or two in my own life when I’m listing all of the reasons I can’t succeed is, “Argue for your limitations and, sure enough, they’re yours.” (Richard Bach).

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  3. Thanks for your comment.

    I do see things in black and white. With dating in particular, I’ve had such little experience of women actually liking me (I didn’t even find anyone willing to go on a date with me until I was twenty-seven and I’ve only had two real relationships) that I find it hard to believe that anyone ever could. Even if I accept that someone might like me some day, the thought of having to date hundreds of other women before I find her is frightening and off-putting.

    I don’t really have hobbies that lend themselves to groups. I would be scared to go to a writing group, plus I was assuming they were only for fiction and poetry writers, but I could be wrong about that. Plus, when I’m in a group, I tend not to talk to people anyway, and the fact that I would only date Jewish women makes it unlikely that I would find anyone in a general non-Jewish group, and there aren’t many (any?) Jewish groups where I could meet someone on my religious level. I hoped I might meet someone when I volunteer, but, aside from someone who was there only once, I struggle to talk to people there and most of the people are a lot older than me anyway.

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