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

18 thoughts on “Breaking Up and Impostor Syndrome

  1. I’m so sorry about the break-up, which I suspected because you were no longer skyping with her. Relationships go through seasons just like the weather, and sometimes after winter, there will be spring. I wouldn’t close the door on it yet, unless the issues are insurmountable. I tend to think that those brash, abrasive people are hiding a whole bunch of insecurity and fear. As you said, we are all complex and have many sides to us. We reveal ourselves to others in a myriad of ways, depending on the situation. I have some friends with whom I can be 100% open, others it’s more like 50%. Or we can share certain problems with those we think might understand them and relate, whereas we know that other people would judge or not be supportive. I’m sure the rabbi was hiding a lot of who she was, and protecting herself with the strength of her personality.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you.

      It’s the second time we’d been together, and some of the same issues arose plus some new ones, so I don’t think it would be a good idea to try for a third time. I haven’t decided if we can still be friends.

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  2. I’m so sorry for your loneliness. I admire your ability to recognize that the relationship wasn’t meeting your needs anymore — it’s something I took years to realize in my previous post. But I know that probably doesn’t take the sting out of the loss. Sending healing vibes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t want this to sound pollyanna because I know you’re hurting, but I can only tell you this from the POV of being a divorced person: It is much more lonely to be married to someone who’s no longer compatible with you than it is to be physically alone and wishing you were with a romantic partner. So even though it hurts now, if you had gone ahead with things, I think you would feel even worse eventually than you do now. That is, if it’s truly a deal-breaker kind of issue now. Otherwise, I do think that many things can be worked through. Respect, once lost, is hard to regain.

    I kind of stumbled upon Shabbat.com as a way to connect for meals over Shabbat, and I’m finding a LOT of people use it as a sort of Jewish Facebook. There are many people there looking to find a mate. Maybe check it out if you haven’t yet?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for this. I think the issues were real deal-breakers. We’d been together once previously and one of the same issues came up, plus I was feeling that a lot of trust had gone.

      Thanks for suggesting Shabbat.com. I hadn’t heard of it. I’m wary of anything like social media though. I have done online dating before, but my experience was that I didn’t get much interest, although that was how I met my first girlfriend. It costs a lot of money to subscribe to dating services though. In any case, I feel I should stay away from dating until I have some kind of clearer career path, which could take years, sadly.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You could just use it for its original purpose of Shabbat invitations and maybe meet someone that way. Of note, they have an option to only look for Orthodox or include Conservadox and others. When you feel like getting back out there, you will. There’s a lot to be said for taking a break and working on yourself. I’m doing that right now–definitely not interested in getting back in a relationship any time soon!

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        1. I don’t think I could meet someone via Shabbat dinners, though, as (a) the pool of local people is limited and (b) the tendency is to segregate sexes even at dinners these days.

          I really can’t see myself ever feeling confident to go back out and date.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I am sorry to hear about the ending of your relationship with E. I do think relationships conducted remotely — whether online or by phone — pose particular challenges. I hope you can remain friends. Maybe that could be eventually be easier with the pressure off, perhaps? I hope your therapist has been helpful talking things through with you. I know you cannot say much on this forum.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks. I’m not sure whether I want to remain friends; this is the second time we’ve dated and staying friends after breaking up the first time meant that we started going out again. I would worry that we would drift into dating a third time and this would become a never-ending on/off relationship.

    My therapist has been helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

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