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.