I struggled to get up again this morning. I felt like my sleep was not at all refreshing, which is not unusual for me, but this time seemed particularly bad. I had weird dreams, which I can’t really remember, but I think shul (synagogue) was part of it, so I probably feel guilty for leaving the online AGM early or am just feeling again that I don’t fit in and that everyone else is doing “better” than me in life, whatever that means. To be honest, I probably would have stayed in bed longer, but I knew I had a dentist’s appointment at 2pm and wanted to get up and have lunch first.

I felt rather depressed for much of the day. I’m catastrophising a bit, worried that things won’t work with PIMOJ or in my new job, and that I’ll let my friend down in the latter. The slow pace things are going with PIMOJ is probably good overall, as I don’t think either of us has much relationship experience, but it is frustrating.

I was also worried about the dentist, partly because I’ve been nervous about it since having my first filling a year or so ago, partly because it’s a dentist I haven’t been to before and there’s a lot of autistic “new situation” anxiety there. In the end, I was fine. I have receding gums because I brush too hard, but otherwise fine. I’m not sure how to stop brushing so hard; this is not the first time I’ve been warned about it. There was some slight tremor, but not much.

I went for a walk for about an hour. I have usually been walking for half an hour most days when I don’t run, but I think I should try to increase it a bit as it’s going to become harder to run now the days are shorter, the weather wetter and I’ll be working two days a week. That said, in retrospect, I wonder if walking too long exhausted me and brought my mood down as my mood seemed even worse in the afternoon, the opposite of what usually happens.

I spent an hour or so on my novel. I procrastinated quite a bit. I’m struggling with redrafting. I feel like I’ve lost all ability to judge the quality of my writing, so I have no idea what to change as it seems equally good/bad. Actually, what it seems like most of the time is just indifferent. Also, actually fixing stuff is a lot harder than realising that just spotting that something needs fixing!

While redrafting, I kept getting distracted by tinkering with a draft blog post I’ve got saved about politics that I may never get the courage to post. Eventually I gave up working on either novel or post as I clearly wasn’t getting anywhere and I wanted to be in a reasonable state of mind for Zoom depression group in the evening.

I only managed about fifteen minutes of Torah study, which upsets me a little, but there you go. Realistically, I probably did too much yesterday, especially that overlong AGM, and am suffering burnout today.

At depression group I had the courage to go first (no one ever wants to go first). I spoke about my anxieties about my new job and COVID Tube travel as well as my autism assessment. I didn’t speak about PIMOJ again. I don’t know why. I think I struggle to share with the group the way other people can, particularly on Zoom; I think when we met in person pre-COVID I shared more. I suppose it’s harder to feel a rapport and sense any kind of empathy over Zoom. I certainly find it harder just to speak and listen on Zoom. There’s a function to turn off your camera; I wish there was a function to turn off everyone else’s cameras when I speak as I find the movement (and, on speaker view, the cutting between cameras if someone hasn’t muted themselves) distracting.

I’m trying to focus on the present, otherwise I slip back into depression and self-criticism. I find myself missing PIMOJ and wondering how much of that is genuine and how much is just loneliness. I hope it’s genuine, but it’s probably too early to say. We’ve only been in contact for two months.

I also find myself feeling “touch hunger,” the need to be held. I feel this a lot lately. Hugging my parents helps a bit, but not completely and lately I’ve found it hard to hug my parents, I don’t know why. I guess I just feel withdrawn. As someone on the autistic spectrum, and as an Orthodox Jewish man who tries to keep the laws about not having affectionate physical contact with unrelated women, touch is doubly difficult for me even without COVID. PIMOJ and I hugged on our last date and I don’t really regret it, even though both Jewish law and COVID regulations forbade it. It is hard to know what to do sometimes. I feel like I did what I had to do, even though it’s probably objectively wrong from a variety of viewpoints. Just don’t tell my rabbi or the police (although the idea of being fined for hugging my date is amusing). I know this probably sounds strange from a secular perspective, where sexual contact is assumed to be the norm even in the under age, but for me just hugging is a big, guilt-inducing thing.

I guess today, and other recent days, feels like stalemate, with nothing moving. I’m aware that things are going to change from next week when I start work again. I just hope things change for the better.

***

I’m watching Twin Peaks: The Return, the sequel series to Twin Peaks. I’m in the middle of episode four of eighteen. I don’t think it’s as good as the initial series, or at least the initial series was until they solved the murder of Laura Palmer (halfway through the second season). The original series had a strong hook (the murder), interesting characters and an intense sense of place (Twin Peaks and the surrounding forest). With this background, the style was allowed to flow naturally into a strange and wonderful mash-up of police procedural, soap opera, paranormal horror story and surreal comedy. The Return feels all over the place: no focus of plot or place, no interesting characters. It feels like the only character we’ve really seen at length is Agent Cooper, and he’s done nothing except wander around in a daze, repeating words other people say.

In the original series the weirdness felt like it had an underlying logic that we could not understand. In The Return, it feels like weird things happen because this is Twin Peaks. Rather than juggling different genres expertly, it’s hard to find any genre for it. I can see why they wanted to avoid simply rehashing the original series and do something new, but I think they over-compensated. I’m sufficiently invested in the series to watch more, primarily in the hope that Agent Cooper’s consciousness returns and rejoins his body, but I doubt I would be interested if I hadn’t seen the original series.

24 thoughts on “Stalemate

  1. It’s easy to fall into pessimism and difficult to manage the worries and restrictions of the pandemic; I’ve been struggling too and I don’t have autism or depression. I know it doesn’t fix anything to know that you’re not alone. I’m glad you hugged PIMOJ; I think physical contact is important in relationships. It’s a closeness that can’t be replicated in words or especially on-line.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. The hugging prohibition seems like the kind of thing that’s almost guaranteed to lead to inner turmoil in anyone who’s not married by the expected age. I was just looking up negiah, and that’s a fascinating conclusion to reach from those lines in Leviticus.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yes- you are 100% correct. That’s why the Orthodox community pressures young people to get married as soon as possible. And it’s one of the primary reasons why older singles in that community are so miserable.

      Liked by 4 people

    2. Looking, I see some people think it might be an “asmachta” – the term when a conclusion isn’t really derived from the biblical verse, but from other considerations (here probably rabbinic desire to prevent pre-marital or extra-marital sex). We try to link it back to the biblical text, but that’s not what’s really driving it.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. In a way, one can’t expect the Rabbis would try to define and distinguish between sexual and non-sexual touch and craft halachic arguments accordingly (I can only imagine what that would look like!) but at the same time, the blanket shomer negiah prohibition has some unfortunate side effects, IMHO. Namely, sexualizing every type of touch between any two people, regardless of circumstance and relationship.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad you hugged PIMOJ too. I think the law is there (COVID and religious) to cause us to think about the well-being of the other person. If neither of you were showing symptoms of COVID then you were showing an excellent ability to generalize – make good decisions based on having more information.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Well you do want to listen to your feelings sometimes but only if they are based in truth and are responding to God and not just external opinions “The mind of the many is not the mind of God.” GMD I think feeling attracted to someone is a good thing and I don’t think religious ideas whatever they might be that make us feel guilty about that are wrong. I also don’t think that it’s good to take things really far physically with someone if we have no intention of committing to them and are just selfishly wanting to feel good right now.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. About Zoom, you can switch from Speaker view (causing the camera to switch) to Gallery view. I find it easier to talk with Gallery view.

    About hugging, I wish safe platonic touch wasn’t so sexualised like in some cultures. Hugging a friend or date can be very comforting.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I find gallery view much harder, I get information overload with all those screens!

      I find hugging friends difficult. I’m quite selective about I feel comfortable having close contact with. But I understand the wider point.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Is there no way for you to call in? Most zoom meetings give the option of calling in.

    I get the touch. I hope you can feel safe enough discussing it with your rabbi. Just so that if you ever ask him halachic questions he should know what standards you hold.

    Thinking of you 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I might be able to call in, I’m not sure.

    I don’t know what I would gain from discussing it with my rabbi. I think he knows roughly where I am anyway, although where I am can fluctuate over time.

    Thanks for thinking of me!

    Like

  7. I get that it feels like stalemate, but I think there is a lot of good progress here – your upcoming job, work on your novel, active participation in depression group, a blossoming relationship…that is quite a bit of activity/growth! Even if the pace feels slow (and slow is relative – who is really defining what the pace should be?), it’s still movement.

    Liked by 1 person

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