Warning: this is a mammoth post. I don’t think I’ve written a blog post at this length for quite a while. Don’t say you weren’t warned…
I spoke too soon last night when I said I didn’t get an exercise migraine. Just when I was about to get ready for bed, about three hours after running, I suddenly got hit by a migraine. Fortunately it was responsive to solpadeine and a “kool ‘n’ soothe” gel strip, but it did result in my going to bed about an hour later than I would have otherwise done, as I stayed up watching Fawlty Towers (The Kippers and the Corpse) while I waited for the medication to help (if I lie down with a migraine, it gets worse).
I slept late as usual. I do wish I didn’t sleep for so long. It would be nice to have some morning again. Nevertheless, on some level that amount of sleep seems to be what I need to do to recover from all the activity I crowd into the afternoons and evenings. Being nocturnal isn’t such a bad thing when I’m unemployed (although Jewish law assumes that men get up very early in the morning for morning prayers, which have to be said early), but it would be better if I slept for seven or eight hours a night instead of nine or ten, sometimes more. I guess there’s not much point complaining when I’ve spent fifteen years trying to shift this pattern with no success, except when I have some external event in the morning like work or a psychiatrist appointment.
I had an anxiety dream last night about having to lead a shul (synagogue) service and not feeling able to do so. Maybe that’s a reaction to shuls reopening, even though I’m not going yet because we’re shielding Mum.
Yesterday was the start of what looks set to be a week of not working on my novel so I can catch up with some real world stuff that needs doing. I feel a bit stifled just at the thought of not writing for a week, which I guess is good (that I want to write so much).
Unfortunately, after lunch, when I tried to get down to things, I felt more tired and depressed than in the morning, which is unusual. Usually I feel better after lunch. I guess I didn’t really want to get down to chores, plus it was hard to work out what I could reasonably get done before therapy at 4pm.
I tried to set up an Amazon seller account so I could buy some adverts for my self-published Doctor Who non-fiction book. However, it turns out it costs $40 a month! I thought payment was per ad click, but there’s a subscription to pay first just to have a seller account. I don’t have that kind of money at the moment. I’d need to sell nearly two thousand copies a year just to break even and I doubt I could manage that. So that plan is going on the back-burner now, unless it turns out I’ve misunderstood how it works, which is possible.
I’m not terribly good at marketing. My marketing plan basically now consists of sending a free copy of the book to Doctor Who Magazine and hoping they review it, or at least put a mention in the merchandise news section. I spent some time today writing a covering letter for that. I hope to post the copy tomorrow.
I had Skype therapy today. The connection was interrupted twice and the therapist let it run over by five minutes to make up for it, which was good of her.
I went for a walk for half an hour after therapy. I ended up feeling like I’m in the wrong time. I guess it’s not uncommon for people from conservative religious groups (e.g. me) to feel out of sync with the wider world. Usually they fit in their own community, though. I feel I don’t fit anywhere. I feel like “the traveller from beyond time” (Doctor Who: The Savages). Yesterday I was thinking what historical society I would want to live in. My Mum always says she wants to live in the 1920s, but only if she was rich, so she could be a Flapper. I thought I’d like to be an eccentric Victorian gentleman scholar of independent means. Then I realised I basically just wanted to be Sherlock Holmes (as well as solving crimes, Holmes wrote a number of monographs on criminology, not to mention other, unrelated, subjects).
It’s not just that I have different ethics, tastes and mores from other people. Sometimes I feel a bit as if I’m trying to think differently to other people. It feels like most people think in three dimensions, and I want to think in four, but I can’t do it because I’m not a mathematician or physicist. Not literally a mathematician, but the type of person who could think differently to most people. That I want to be a great visionary, but haven’t got the ability to think anything new, just an inability to think what everyone else thinks.
A better analogy might be that I feel like I’m on a different frequency to other people a lot of the time, primarily because of autism. Other people can’t quite “get” me, and I can’t get them.
After dinner I think my thoughts went somewhat downhill. I tried to do some Torah study, but only managed fifteen minutes before feeling overwhelmed by depression and exhaustion.
My Dad spoke to me again about working in a local primary school as a teaching assistant. I do not think that this is a good idea at all, but my parents are convinced that I am good with children. I have not seen any real evidence of this, but they are convinced. Nor do I think working in a primary school is a particularly good idea from an autistic point of view. I think Dad was annoyed I was so dismissive. He said it is local (which is undoubtedly true) and that I could do with the money (also true) and that it would give me something to do. The latter is technically true as well, but I would still need to job hunt to get a library job, which would be a better fit, plus I’m already working on a novel and see myself as having more chance of a career as a writer than as a teacher/TA, not that I see myself as having much of a chance of getting any sort of career. Taking a full-time TA job would basically put my novel-writing on indefinite hold and even a part-time job would cause some disruption.
I thought I was over E. I guess I spoke too soon about that too. I keep thinking about what happened. I don’t really think it could have worked out between us, but I have thoughts and nebulous feelings about her at times. It’s mostly feelings that I can’t really pin down and analyse. I guess wishing things could have worked out. Some worry about how she is coping without me and hoping she is OK. Wishing I had someone who cared for me and could see past all my issues. Someone I could care for.
I hate the fact that I always have crushes when I’m not in a relationship (which is the vast majority of the time). They’re always painful and make me act stupidly and they never lead to anything. I wish I could just turn my libido off. I’m blatantly never going to get married, so it’s kind of pointless. I should just focus on my writing, and Jewish stuff (except getting married is a Jewish thing, so there’s an obvious problem right there).
I have been thinking about a story from the Talmud (Menachot 44a) today. I have blogged about it before, but I’m going to blog about it again, because I think it’s a good story. I don’t know if it really happened; it doesn’t really matter. The story is about a young Jewish yeshiva (seminary) student who went illicitly to visit a prostitute in a distant land. As he undressed, he saw his tzitzit, the fringes on a four-cornered garment that Jewish men wear, and couldn’t go through with the act. He sat there naked and the woman joined him, asking what flaw he saw in her. He said that she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, but that his tzitzit seemed like four witnesses testifying that God punishes sin and rewards virtue and he could not go through with the sin of sleeping with her. The woman asked the man to write down his name, the name of his city, the name of his Torah teacher and the yeshiva where he studied. This the man did. Then he left. Meanwhile the woman sold her property, gave a third to the government and a third to the poor and uses the remainder to travel to the man’s city, where she asked his rabbi to convert her. He was sceptical, thinking she wants to convert simply to get married to a Jewish man, but when he sees the list of names he seems to intuit the story and that she had a meaningful connection and oversees her conversion and she married the man who came to her.
Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits has a whole long analysis of the story in his essay A Jewish Sexual Ethics (reprinted in Essential Essays on Judaism ed. David Hazony). He sees the moment of contact, when the yeshiva student and the prostitute sit together, and he gives her all the names in his life, symbolising his sense of self and personal history, as being an I-Thou moment (according to Martin Buber’s philosophy, which we covered a bit in the recent Jewish philosophy shiur (religious class) I went to). “It is redemption from impersonality” says Rabbi Berkovits.
This is what I want from life, really, certainly from a relationship. To be redeemed from impersonality. To really connect with someone. I thought I had that, but obviously I didn’t. The online world is particularly bad for tricking you into thinking that you are closer to someone than you really are, and it’s probably no surprise that my first relationship was formed via a dating website and involved a lot of emailing and texting back and forth even after we moved off JDate and my second one was formed via my blog and involved a lot more emailing and texting, not least from being long-distance. This may be part of the reason they failed. Maybe we both had a false image of each other. I don’t know. If I dated again, I don’t know what method I would use to meet someone (dating site, dating app, professional shadchan (matchmaker), hope for a date arranged by friends or family, etc.). They all seem pretty problematic in different ways. I certainly wouldn’t try speed dating, which just terrifies me (little known fact: speed dating was invented by an Orthodox rabbi. It is very much how frum people date: short, to the point, a lot of information passed very quickly to see if you’re compatible, then move on to the next one).
We actually spoke about this in therapy today. Not about speed dating, about wanting connection, and missing that. I get on OK with my parents, but we don’t have the close rapport that my Dad had with his Dad and my Mum had with her Mum. We don’t always receive each other’s frequencies. I don’t really have close friends I can talk to any more. I fell out with them, or they drifted away. I’m avoiding E. at the moment and don’t know if we can continue as platonic friends. The friends I do have don’t live locally either, which is problematic at the moment.
My parents have lots of local friends, and during lockdown they’ve been going round to each others’ houses on Shabbat and having socially distanced conversations on the driveways. I can’t really do that easily; even my local friends live quite a way away, but I would be too scared to just turn up on someone’s doorstep unannounced. What if they didn’t want to see me? What if I ran out of conversation? I guess this is social anxiety.
We spoke about this today in therapy too, the way I drifted away from friends in my teens when socialising became less about playing a game together with clear rules as per childhood and more about “chilling.” I never got the hang of that, or ever felt confident inviting myself to other people’s parties the way my peers did. It didn’t help that I was terrified of drink, drugs, tobacco and sex and most of my peers were into at least one of those. To be honest, forget cannabis or booze, I was terrified of people talking to me, or my crush talking to me, although I wanted that to happen… I had a crush on one girl during the whole two years of the sixth form (equivalent to high school). Sometimes I tried awkwardly try to talk to her, but mostly I just stood around near her and hoped she would say something to me. Nowadays I think she didn’t like me much and found me irritating, but was too polite to say so, especially as her best friend was dating one of my close friends.
I feel the touch hunger today too. I guess I could ask my parents for a hug, but somehow I feel I can’t, and it’s not quite the same anyway. It would be good to be in a relationship where my physical and emotional needs are both met, but that seems unlikely to happen any time soon. I’ll be thirty-seven this time next week. Somehow I feel that I could easily turn forty and still be a virgin. I can’t see my life changing quickly, except possibly for the worse. I think it could easily be at least five years before I’ve established myself as a writer and only once I have a career do I feel that I can even think of dating again.
Ugh, I’m catastrophising again.
I wrote a huge post, but I still feel that I haven’t really expressed what I feel. It’s hard to describe loneliness, even though I’ve experienced it for so much of my life. I probably do live inside my head too much.
I’m about to eat ice cream, because I feel I need it, and maybe impulse buy/retail therapy buy some Doctor Who DVDs, although I probably shouldn’t, because I just feel rotten today. I hope this is just the “mental hangover” from “peopling” yesterday and not anything more serious.