(I’m trying the new WordPress editor, and having a slight autistic change freak out that it looks complicated (what are ‘blocks’?) and I can’t get it to work, and the old editor worked fine, so why did they change it?)
I woke up from strange dreams again, something about being in therapy, but not knowing what to say (a representation of my fears that I’m not ‘really’ depressed?), stuff about the reliability of the Bible (I even remembered this book in my dream), stuff about pigeons trying to fly in through a door to a balcony, but I couldn’t get too close to chase them away because there was no balcony, just a drop of several stories (I’ve never liked pigeons and in the summer I do worry about birds flying into the houses through the open windows). There was some stuff about university too, I think, probably the product of raking that over for my novel. And something about having a son and calling him Lemuel (‘Dedicated to God’ – maybe my unconscious is more certain of my religiosity than I am?).
I woke up depressed and self-loathing again. After breakfast and lunch I felt better though. I tried to work a bit on my novel and got bogged down again, so I looked at some advice a writer friend had sent me yesterday when I emailed to ask about writer’s block, which referred me to some books (that I ordered on Ebay) and Tweets (which I read).
I was doing OK until I read something religious that upset me. I’m not going to repeat it here, because I don’t want to seem so negative about frum (religious Orthodox Jewish culture), but it did make me feel that I will never fit in. This prompted a dip back into, “I can’t write, I’m never going to be a writer” angst, and I realised I had been sat at my computer for three hours reading, writing, thinking and, yes, procrastinating, and that I should probably take a break. I guess it’s good that I realised what was happening to me and acted on it.
(I did later manage half an hour or so of Torah study despite this.)
On my break, I went for a walk. While I was out, I had the intense feeling of alienation that I used to associate primarily with depression, but which I increasingly feel is due to autism, or maybe to autism and depression. The feeling of, “I don’t belong here, this isn’t the world I’m supposed to live in.” Feeling like I can never fit in and do the things a “normal” person is supposed to do, particularly career-wise. I’m worried today that I will never be a writer of any kind, let alone a fiction writer. There isn’t really anywhere to go with this line of thought, though. Either it will work out or it won’t. As I’m struggling to find other work, there aren’t a lot of other options out there other than persevering with my novel. Like most of the things I’m worried about at the moment, there is literally nothing at all I can really do about this beyond sticking at it.
I’m not sure what to do with kabbalah, Jewish mysticism. Mysticism has never meant much to me and part of me is a kind of Maimonidean religious rationalist, but in recent years I’ve become somewhat more interested in kabbalah as a way of thinking about God and about life that doesn’t necessarily require absolute literal belief in its tenets. Although my thoughts about this could change at any time (and I don’t agree at all with practical kabbalah, segulahs and other forms of magical thinking and magic).
I was aware of the idea of different souls leading to different personalities. According to Chabad.org there are seven types of soul (‘G-d’ is the Jewish way of deliberately spelling ‘God’ incorrectly so that the writing doesn’t have any sanctity):
Chesed (Kindness) — A soul whose service of G‑d is characterized by a calm and flowing love. This soul is also overflowing with love for his fellows.
Gevurah (Severity) – A soul who serves G‑d with awe and a flaming passion. This soul is also highly disciplined, with high expectations of himself and others.
Tiferet (Harmony) – The soul who has achieved a perfect synthesis of Kindness and Severity. This is accomplished through the study of Torah. Tiferet is also the source of the soul’s capacity for compassion.
Netzach (Perseverance) – A soul who is constantly battling and struggling, but is ultimately triumphant.
Hod (Humility) – The soul who exemplifies self-abnegation in favor of allowing itself to be overwhelmed by G‑d’s goodness.
Yesod (Foundation) – The soul whose unique talent is establishing giving relationships, intellectually or otherwise.
Malchut – (Royalty) The soul who serves its Creator in a majestic manner.
I only used to know about the first two and I thought that, inasmuch as this idea had any validity, I would come from Gevurah, which contains the idea of discipline and especially limits and boundaries, which seemed to sum up my restricted approach to life. But I am frankly not as disciplined as I once thought/hoped myself to be and now I wonder if I should see myself as coming from Netzach, the idea of conflict and struggle over my mental health being ongoing in my life since adolescence.
As I say, I’m not sure how much validity any of this has as a representation of the real world, but as a Jewish myth/thought system, maybe it would help me to re-frame my life to see conflict as part of my life and mission rather than something I should try to get through quickly in order to find my “real” mission. It would also be positive to see triumph as something innate in me (‘Netzach‘ means both ‘eternity’ and ‘victory’). Interestingly, this website associates Netzach with bitachon, trust in God, something I feel myself lacking.
Anyway, I’m going to stop now as you can really jump down the rabbit hole with kabbalistic stuff if you aren’t careful.