I’m trying not to wallow in loneliness and despair today. I had some blog comments last night that I saw when I put on my computer this morning that cheered me up. I’m grateful to everyone who comments – I appreciate comments a lot, even “I-don’t-know-what-to-say-so-hugs”-type comments. It’s good to know that I’m not alone and that people are reading. I usually forget to “like” comments, because I focus on replying to them, but it doesn’t mean I don’t value them. I am trying to remember to “like” them more.
Today’s achievements: I finished and sent the job application I started yesterday (that took about fifty minutes). I don’t think I’ll get the job, and I’m not sure if I want it, because it’s full-time and I don’t think I can cope with that. It is also potentially at high risk of infection from COVID or other illnesses and I’m not sure that’s a good idea while Mum’s immune system is suppressed.
I spent a while working on my novel, writing 600 words in one hour or so. I worry that it is possibly turning into the most boring novel ever written. The part that is based on my own life feels constrained by what happened to me. I have fictionalised a lot of details, but it still feels lifeless. The main character is irritating (although this may be my self-loathing speaking, as he’s based on me). I have a female protagonist who is too passive and boring. The supporting characters are featureless and barely appear. The writing lacks zest. The whole thing is humourless. I have a lot to fix in future drafts.
I don’t think I’m really cut out for writing “serious” literary fiction, which is what this is trying to be. I want to pursue my ideas about time-travel and monsters, and historical figures like Shabbatai Tzvi and Jack the Ripper, but I also want to finish one project before I start a new one, so I’m tied to this novel for now, until I finish it or find it totally unworkable. I also worry whether I could write prolonged fiction without the “scaffolding” of writing about my own experiences to provide some structure for the story.
As well as writing and applying for a job, I also cooked dinner (vegetable curry), which took longer than I would have liked and, for complicated reasons, made me think about E. I think I made the right decision to break up with her, but I miss her as my friend as well as thinking that I won’t manage to find anyone else willing to see past my issues and baggage. I might stay friends, after a break, but I’m worried we’ll drift back into dating in a crazy on-off relationship, which would be a very bad idea.
Since I was eighteen or so, I’ve usually had one close female friend, usually platonic and generally an email- or text-based friendship. Sometimes I’ve wanted that friend to be my girlfriend (and for a few short periods that was the case), but that was usually disastrous. Things have been better when the friend is safely off-limits, due to not being Jewish or being significantly older than me. Then she is someone I can turn to for emotional support and practical advice, particularly about interpersonal stuff that I struggle with because of autism.
I guess I have a vacancy at the moment, but I can’t really see myself pursuing even platonic female friendship at the moment (even if I knew someone to befriend), partly because of the risk of it turning into something more, partly because I feel disinclined to open up to anyone at the moment. Plus, most of those friendships ended badly, often because of me. So I should resign myself to being alone. I wish I did have someone to text during the day, though.
After dinner I went for a half-hour walk. I ended up feeling morose. I was on edge from watching Ashes to Ashes while eating dinner. It was a good episode, but violent and bleak and left me feeling on edge and wary of something awful happening to me, even though it was broad daylight and there were still people around. I thought about Ashley’s post for today, and whether I will ever be happy. I feel that I probably won’t be happy, and I’m onto worrying about whether I will be comfortable. I worry about being alone when my parents die. I wouldn’t want to impose on my sister and brother-in-law by moving in with them. I worry about dying alone, in pain, without dignity (possibly in my own excrement, like Stalin). Will I be OK financially? Will anyone still care about me? It’s scary.
Even if I did somehow find meaning and happiness, would I just feel guilty? A kind of survivor syndrome that I turned my life around when so many others can’t? I already feel vaguely guilty that my childhood was not awful and abusive (even though I was bullied at school, and adolescence was rather lonely and miserable), given how many abuse survivors I’ve come across in the mental health community.
After the walk, I tried to “snap out” of my moroseness (which never works) and do some Torah study, as I had been too busy to do any earlier. I was tired and depressed and my room is very hot and uncomfortable, so I didn’t get very far. I spent nearly fifteen minutes on a mishnah which I felt that the Artscroll commentary made more difficult than it needed to be (I feel they do this a lot). I had a look at ideas for my devar Torah for twenty minutes or more, which was a bit more fruitful, until my brain gave up with heat and fatigue, but I need to do a lot more work on it. My divrei Torah have not come easily lately, which is frustrating.
The Wild Pomegranite quoted Rebbe Nachman of Breslov:
“Sometimes a person’s goals and desire for holiness are beyond his capabilities. Therefore, he must control himself. He must limit his yearnings and fulfill – simply – whatever service to God he is capable of in that moment. Then he must pray to be led on the proper path for his level by serving God with joy and simplicity.” (Likutei Halakhot, Bet Knesset 5:24)
I feel this describes me. I want to move to higher levels of holiness in terms of kavannah (mindfulness) in prayer and mitzvot (commandments), more and deeper Torah study, doing some kind of meaningful work (ideally writing), and marrying and having children, but these are beyond my capabilities at the moment, which is frustrating for me. It is difficult and frustrating to accept being at a much more “basic” level of service, especially as I’m only vaguely aware of what exactly that would entails. Nevertheless, it is where I am.
It reminded me of this quote also from Rebbe Nachman that I’ve blogged before:
The main thing is this: It is forbidden to despair! Even a simple man who cannot study at all, or one who finds himself in a place where he is unable to study, or the like, should in his very simplicity be strong in worship and in the fear of God… Even he who stands on the very bottom rung, God forbid, or in the very depths of hell, may God protect us, should nevertheless not despair. He should fulfil the Scripture: ‘Out of the belly of the deep I cried’ (Jonah 2:3), and be as strong as he can. Even he will be able to return and receive the Torah’s sustenance, by means of the zaddiq [saintly person]. The main thing is to strengthen yourself whatever way you can, no matter how far you have fallen. If you hold on even just the slightest bit, there is yet hope that you will return to God. (quoted in Arthur Green Tormented Master: The Life and Spiritual Quest of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav p. 264)
I wrote these paragraphs earlier in the post, above the paragraphs about today. I cut and pasted them here to end the post on a positive note. It feels vaguely wrong. I feel I should try to be positive, but it seems dishonest to end on a positive note that I don’t feel. The “happiness is a choice” people would say to cut and paste and it will make me happier. I think happiness is not always a choice, and rearranging things does not always help. Some people are just in pain, and are going to stay in pain, and there isn’t much they can do about it. But I also want to acknowledge that even in pain, there can be hope. Whichever one I finish on – pain or hope – will be stressed more. Concluding on something is taking a stand in favour of it. But I see the two, pain and hope, at the same time (like duck/rabbit illusion). Pain/hope. Hope/pain. Pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope/pain/hope…