I feel lonely again, and I feel “touch hungry” like crazy.  “Touch hunger” was a term I learnt from the sex therapist Talli Rosenbaum on the Intimate Judaism podcast, but I had felt the concept for a long time without knowing that there was a word for it.  It’s the feeling of wanting to be touched and held.  I feel that a lot at the moment.  I want someone to touch me romantically/sexually.  I can hug my parents, but it’s not the same, and I don’t always feel comfortable asking my parents for hugs; I’m not sure why (it’s not because of anything they’re doing).  My first girlfriend was the only person I’ve hugged in anything approaching a sexual way because E. and I had a long-distance relationship.  Even then, with my first girlfriend, it took me a long time to feel able to touch her because I wanted to keep Jewish law about not having physical contact before marriage and there was a lot of guilt in just hugging.  The whole experience was distinctly confusing emotionally, especially in terms of the way that relationship developed and the way it ultimately fell apart.  So there’s a lot of guilt, shame and confusion as well as loneliness, longing and despair around these feelings.

I’m thinking of E. today and wondering how our relationship fell apart so fast.  Was the initial attraction and the way it became very serious very quickly (we were speaking seriously about marriage) just infatuation?  Or would we have been OK if lockdown hadn’t been so difficult for her?  I guess I’ll never know.  Sometimes I wonder if I should have tried to stay with her for longer, until after lockdown, to see if things went back to normal, but I couldn’t cope with the psychological strain of the way she suddenly wanted the relationship to be.  It was as much a trust thing as anything else.  It does make me wonder if anyone could ever really love me, for more than a few months until the infatuation ended.  I don’t blame E. for what happened.  I just want to know if the situation could repeat in future relationships.  I want to know how I can trust anyone else.

***

I feel I haven’t said much that is new here in months.  Every day (except Shabbat/Saturday) I work on my novel, take exercise, do some Torah study or work on my weekly devar Torah (Torah thought), occasionally go to a shiur (religious class) on Zoom, go to therapy via Skype once a week, cook dinner or iron or do other chores a couple of times a week…  To be honest, the repetition doesn’t bother me so much (I guess there are advantages to being autistic after all), but I feel it must be dull to my readers and it’s no wonder I seem to get even fewer ‘likes’ than I did before lockdown.

Today’s repetition: I spent one and three-quarter hours on my novel.  I wrote 1,000 words and also edited a long fragment that I wrote almost exactly a year ago into the main body of the text.  It was the first bit of the novel that I wrote, when I was excited and just needed to get something down on paper even if it wasn’t starting from the beginning.  I reduced it from 4,000 words to 2,500, which makes me worry how much the entire book will shrink in redrafting.  I did cut a lot of unnecessary stuff though.  I slip into pretentious waffle if I’m not careful.

The writing was difficult, as I was challenging difficult thoughts and experiences from my past (particularly my further education job).  I was glad that I got through it without much procrastination, just fairly solid working.

It’s scary writing something so personal and which makes me so vulnerable.  The rest of the chapter is going to make me just as vulnerable and also risky in terms of content, especially from a frum (religious Orthodox Jewish) point of view.  There is certainly a risk with some of my writing in this book that people are going to be surprised that a frum person could write those things, still less apparently have experience of them.  I think some things need to be said, although it’s hard to judge what to say explicitly and what to leave unsaid sometimes.  I think I’m writing about things that lots of people sort-of know go on in the frum community, but prefer not to think about it.  If the book does get published, I could well end up hoping that not many people I know actually read it, or at least that they don’t tell me they’ve read it, otherwise there could be some awkward conversations.

***

By late afternoon, I was feeling depressed again.  I’m not sure if that was from writing or just generally.  I went for a thirty-five minute run, just managing to dodge the showers which helped a little.  I felt depressed and lonely while running, but tried to focus on getting through the day and not worrying about the future, as per my post yesterday.

I didn’t do much Torah study as I got an exercise migraine and had trouble shifting it.  I was OK for an hour or more after running, then I suddenly had a massive headache that stopped me from doing anything.  I ended up watching The Avengers (The Bird Who Knew Too Much) on the grounds that The Avengers is upbeat and requires relatively little concentration (this is the British 1960s espionage/science fiction TV series The Avengers, not the Marvel superhero films of the same name).  I did eventually manage about thirty minutes of Torah study in small bursts.

And now I should go to bed as it’s nearly 1am, but I don’t feel sleepy.  After I have a migraine, I end up feeling too tired to do much, but not actually sleepy and it’s hard to know what to do.

14 thoughts on “More Loneliness, and Writing Progress

  1. The only Avengers I know is the old series with Emma Peel and John Steed. I loved that program! But there are so many films and series with that name now that it’s confusing. This is a tough time to be “touch hungry.” In the early stages of the pandemic quarantine I was very much there, mostly because I live alone. I wanted the cat to provide snuggles and she was/is only willing to do that on her terms. She sometimes has the personality of a rattlesnake. I thought you were having long and good conversations with E. so I was surprised that it didn’t work out. I guess it’s best to discover the issues sooner rather than later. But it’s still sad that it ended, for whatever reasons. The pandemic couldn’t have helped. :(Glad you got so much written on your book! They say that we have to write about what we know, thus it can become very personal and revealing. Perhaps you can use a pseudonym for publishing?

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  2. Yes, that Avengers was what I meant.

    I sometimes wish I had a pet for that reason.

    I don’t really want to use a pseudonym for various reasons; at least if I say I’m writing a book I don’t sound so passive given my unemployed status.

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  3. Nice progress on the novel. I really understand the touch hunger thing. For me, it’s missing having someone I love to lie next to and just hold. Often I pick up one of the cats and give them some love or invite them to bed with me, and that helps a lot. The purring is very soothing. Seeing how much they enjoy your attention and how much they love you really helps me.

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  4. I often wonder if the desire for human intimacy (the need for physical embrace) and finding your soulmate, is in some ways linked to the much greater unsatisfied hunger/desire for God and trying to come to term with his remoteness and his silence. You are right – human beings let us down and can never live up to the weight of our needs – we have to learn to compromise. Even when you find the right person, if you are fortunate enough to do so – there is always the possibility of that ultimate separator, death. So human love is risky, full of compromise and uncertainty. But in the meantime, we all need other people and in seeking the highest fulfilment, whether in the divine or in another person, we must not forget what we do have – the friendships and connections we can still make. I am going to link you to another poem – I love poetry because, like music, it can, through metaphor, express ideas which are too difficult to put into words otherwise. It is called “Not Love Perhaps” and is by Tessimond who also suffered from depression. Here is a link: https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/not-love-perhaps/
    And, as they say, don’t make perfection the enemy of the good.

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    1. I think the need for intimacy is linked to the need for God, although I don’t think that’s the only reason for it.

      Yes, I’ve been very aware of the possibility of death this year, since Mum has been ill.

      My therapist spoke about connecting with friends today.

      Thank you for linking to the poem.

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  5. It seems like Jewish law was not made with unmarried people in mind. The desire for touch and sexual touch is profoundly human, and it’s unfortunate if there’s not at least recognition that suppressing those things could cause significant distress.

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    1. It was not. To be fair, Jewish law follows the majority and most people in the community are married. In the past, that was even more the case, when there were arranged marriages and almost everyone was married (money being the main obstacle). It’s hard for me, though.

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