I slept badly, waking up exhausted and covered in sweat. I really need summer pyjamas, although I’m not sure it’s worth it for the few weeks I would actually need them each year. It’s hard to believe it was so much cooler at night just a couple of weeks ago. The hoped-for thunderstorm never materialised yesterday. Today we could hear distant thunder all afternoon and also saw lightning after a while, but the rain has not reached us, and the sky remains blue. The thunder has stopped, but there is more of a breeze, which helps a bit. In late afternoon it was cool enough to go for a walk, which was good, although I came back with a headache.
All I could think of today was how hot and uncomfortable I am, which I guess means I am not feeling anxious about anything else, but also means I am not doing anything productive. I wish we had air conditioning.
Mum had her last chemotherapy session today, so there’s progress there at least. Now she has a break for recuperation before surgery in a month’s time.
Achievements: the walk, half an hour of Torah study, an hour or so working on my devar Torah (which still isn’t finished, even though I’m taking most of it from just one book, Rabbi Joshua Berman’s The Temple: It’s Symbolism and Meaning Then and Now). I did a bit of reading of a book on writing. That’s about it.
At some point I stopped praying every day to get married. I’m not sure when. I suppose it was some months ago, when my hitbodedut (spontaneous prayer) became shorter and sporadic, sometimes abandoned completely. It was around the time I broke up with E. Hitbodedut was when I used to ask to get married. I think I stopped asking for much at all, other than the set prayers, and prayers for people I know who are sick in my Amidah (I have also been saying special prayers for the whole world since COVID hit). To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what I say when I do my hitbodedut at the moment. I probably do ask for things, but not consistently, and mainly small things like meeting my goals for the next day. I probably do still pray to get married, just intermittently and not every day.
I suppose it was hard to believe that the big things I asked for would ever be granted. It felt like God had no interest in giving me what I was asking, so why bother ask? Like, I suspect, many things I think or feel, this is theologically problematic. For one thing, we’re supposed to ask for what we want. For another, there are plenty of Jewish approaches to prayer that see it as a lot more than “Ask, Get.” I once gave a fifteen minute shiur (religious class) on three approaches to prayer; one did not even deal directly with asking for things at all and the other two saw the asking as subsidiary to other processes.
But still, I struggle to ask. Some of it is feeling hopeless about ever meeting the right person (or coping with meeting a lot of wrong people first), but a lot of it is what I wrote the other day about not feeling ready to get married, but wanting to be in a serious, committed relationship, even if it’s non-physical. That doesn’t really exist in Orthodox Jewish culture and it’s hard to ask God for something that is ostensibly wrong. Sinful, even. (Admittedly the Talmud says that the burglar prays to God that he won’t get caught before he burgles a house, but this is hardly intended as an example to follow.) But praying to get married seems silly when I may never get to that stage.
I think I do still sometimes pray to get a job, get married and have children, but not every night, consistently. Just sometimes. Praying to get a job AND get married AND have children sounds a lot and something that couldn’t happen for ages, if at all. I suppose I should be praying to feel a bit less depressed and exhausted, and to sell some writing or something. Small steps.
One of the things I struggle with because of autism is reading people (in the sense of understanding them) and knowing if they’re interested in me, interested either in being my friend or, in some cases, having a relationship with me. I have probably lost potential friends who I misread or who panicked me and I didn’t know how to talk to them, even though I thought they were nice and would have liked to be friends with them (this is social anxiety). Similarly, I probably bored and upset a lot of women who I wanted to date, but was too shy to ask, so I just hung around them, hoping something would happen and we would magically be dating.
A third category, which I was thinking about a bit today, is people who drifted into my life and then drifted out again, leaving me puzzled and confused. This happened mostly online; I think the nature of the internet and blogs is that people drift in and out very quickly.
I came across an email today from 2014. This was from someone I “met” online, where we were both commenting on a Jewish website. She was really complimentary and asked for my email address and we emailed back and forth for a bit, but most of her emails were short emails saying she was slowly writing a long email that would tell me more about her. I never got the long email; after a while the short emails stopped too. I don’t know if she was interested in me romantically and then lost her nerve or something else. She was about to start an Orthodox Jewish conversion (her father was Jewish, but not her mother), and the bet din (rabbinical conversion court) would not have been happy to know she was in a deep personal conversation with a Jewish man before conversion (it might make them see the conversion as not motivated by sincere belief, but in order to have a Jewish marriage), so it would be understandable if she wanted to stop emailing. She was also starting a programme of study abroad, although I forget what, so that might have explained her lack of time to write too, but ghosting me just left me wondering what happened. That’s an extreme example, but similar things have happened to me and they always leave me feeling puzzled and confused, wondering if I did something wrong or if I misread the whole situation from the start (although in that situation I was fairly confused about what she wanted even from the start).
I’m sitting in the garden, because it’s cooler than the house and my room is so hot that my headache gets worse if I sit there. I just finished reading Muck, Dror Burstein’s quasi-modern reimagining of the biblical Yirmiyah/Jeremiah. I feel too tired to do anything, but not tired enough to sleep, plus my room, as I say, is uncomfortably hot. I might watch Star Trek Voyager on my laptop in the garden, with headphones in, as Mum and Dad are out here talking and they will probably go inside and put the TV on loudly soon (the TV is right by the French windows into the garden, which are open).