E. and I broke up. It was a mutual thing, more or less. It isn’t fair of me to go into too many details. I’ll just say that we realised our needs were no longer compatible. To be honest, it’s been on the cards since last week and I was really just holding on for therapy yesterday to check that I wasn’t rushing into something stupid. Because of that, I feel like I’ve done a lot of my grieving over the last week or so. I feel numb and empty now, and somewhat depressed, but not as much as a few days ago.
In the end, it was like breaking up with my first, and only previous, girlfriend: everything seemed fine, until suddenly it wasn’t. My needs suddenly weren’t being met and I was told I wasn’t meeting her needs, and neither of us felt able to change things without hurting ourselves. I find it scary how quickly it fell apart. I worry that I can never be sure that I have a good relationship; the next day my partner might turn around and want me to behave completely differently. I guess it’s for the best that it happened now and not ten years down the line.
It’s hard, because E. wasn’t just my girlfriend, but also my best friend, and the only person outside my family I’ve been really close to lately. I’m not sure whether we will stay friends. We did that the first time we broke up and ended up drifting back into a romantic relationship, which clearly was not a good idea with hindsight, so maybe we both need a clean break. The problem is, neither of us have that many other friends, so I’ll feel lonely as well as worried about her being lonely.
I feel I have a lot of love to give someone, but I doubt there is anyone compatible and don’t know how to meet someone even if there is. My issues would probably preclude any kind of stable, long-term relationship, which is the only kind I want. I’ve been lonely for much of my life, so I’m used to it, but it is still hard.
On an unrelated note, last night and today I’ve been thinking about something that happened in my first job, several years ago. I was working in the library of a Jewish educational institution (I’m trying to keep things vague, but there aren’t many such institutions in London). Sometimes people would donate books or even their personal libraries to us when they died. A female rabbi (Reform) connected with the institution died and bequeathed her library and I spent my final months there cataloguing it.
Cataloguing someone’s library is a curiously intimate experience, because you learn what their real interests are. Previously I’d worked on the library of someone who was involved in the campaign for Soviet Jewry, and he obviously had a lot of books on the USSR, Soviet Jewry and Jewish dissidents. As for this rabbi she was a radical lesbian feminist and had a lot of books on feminism (Jewish and general), which made me wonder if she would instinctively dislike me, given that I’m Orthodox and Orthodoxy is not exactly feminist (although I consider myself as feminist as an Orthodox Jew can be, if not a bit more) or LGBT-friendly. I never had the chance to meet her, but she had a reputation in the institution as someone who held strong opinions and who didn’t suffer fools, which made her sound a bit scary too. But she also had a lot of books on Jewish religious existentialism (Martin Buber, Emmanuel Levinas, etc.) and, surprisingly, on Hasidism. At the time I was exploring both of those, and I felt a sense of kinship.
One day I came across an article she had written in a journal where she said she was interested in Hasidism, but felt that she would be rejected by the rabbis she admired because of her sex (and possibly also her sexuality, I don’t remember). It was surprisingly vulnerable – “surprisingly” because everything everyone said about her made her seem tough and abrasive, the type of person who would just say, “Accept me as I am; if not, it’s your loss, not mine.” Suddenly she seemed a much more complicated person than she did from the way everyone spoke about her, although her library had given me the first clue that this was the case. It made me feel even more of a link to her, because wherever I am, I feel I would be rejected, doubly so at this institution, where I always felt a bit of an outsider because I’m Orthodox and the institution was not.
I don’t know why I’ve been thinking about this. Maybe I’m trying to tell myself that everyone has issues or feels an outsider sometimes or has Impostor Syndrome.
There is a wider issue here about assuming people will reject me because of my views. I’ve spoken a lot about doing that in the frum community, but I do it in other places too. Lately I’ve been avoiding people with different political views, less because I disagree with them (I’m used to having minority opinions and I try to be non-judgmental of people I disagree with or who have different lives), and more because of fear they would reject me and “cancel” me if they knew I thought differently. Maybe I shouldn’t be so worried. It’s hard to tell.
Today was not a great day for achievements. I woke early (or got woken, I’m not sure), but was too depressed to get out of bed and fell asleep again. The second time I woke up was late and I was still depressed, but I had to make myself get up. I cooked dinner and went for a half-hour walk. I did half an hour of Torah study. Otherwise, I was too nervous and depressed about breaking up with E. to really do anything else like working on my novel. I might do some more Torah study after dinner or work on my novel. I don’t know. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.
“The future lies this way.” Doctor Who: Logopolis by Christopher H. Bidmead