Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Loneliness

I had one of my worst days today.

I went to my therapist and cried nonstop for an hour. I could have gone on all afternoon. Throughout the day I found myself getting randomly choked up. Just meeting people who offer me kind yom tov wishes got me emotional. Talking to my parents and siblings had me holding back the tears. I am tearing up as I write this.

I am so sad and lonely.

I don't know why it is hitting me so hard suddenly.

I don't know if its because I am seeing frum gay people, groups and movements more prevalent in the news and in social media. It makes me yearn to be a part of it. I feel so trapped that I have no one to share this with. I am not even talking about having a relationship with someone. I am talking about being able to share my highs and lows, my fears and my insecurities and my successes and failures with another person.

There are 2 people in my life who know me, that I have told that I am gay. My therapist and a close friend of mine who we can call David.

My therapist has been there for me for years and is amazing. Ultimately he is still a therapist though, who for the most part, I communicate with for an hour or two once a month. I can't call him to shoot the breeze or randomly pick the phone up and call him when I am going through a challenge just to chat.

David and I have been close and have known each other since high school. He is a kind and loyal friend who I would trust with my life. I came out to him probably 12 or 13 years ago and he accepted me for who I am. (He is straight as can be). While David has always been extremely supportive, he is the furthest thing from the mushy type and doesn't give much of himself emotionally. He has been extremely challenged and (I believe) hardened by his upbringing to where getting past his outermost layer, to a point of vulnerability is a challenge. It is therefore hard for me to feel like I am having an intimate (albeit platonic) relationship with him that is a 2 way street. He isn't the type to share his innermost feelings, doubts and insecurities. We dont have the kind of friendship where I would be comfortable getting a hug from him while I cry on his shoulder.  I in no way blame or have any animosity towards him for that. I love him for who he is and the struggles he's been through.

Outside of that there's no one. I get to low places and wish I had someone to turn to. I wish I had someone who knows me that I can cry to. I wish I had someone who I wouldn't be scared to tell what I am thinking and feeling.

I feel so trapped and alone in this world.

Hashem will apparently be deciding tomorrow how the coming year will be. I ask Him to please just help me out of my pain and loneliness.

I end this blog entry as I started it, with tears in my eyes.

Happy and healthy new year to all.

Guilty

As I stand here saying slichos in Shul erev Rosh Hashana I am being pulled by my attraction to some men davening with me.

I ask myself, should I really be here or rather, does Hashem really want me here saying selichos if at the same time I am having negative thoughts that the Torah frowns upon and even forbids?

Probably not.

So what keeps me here?

Guilt.

I feel too guilty going into rosh hashana without saying selichos. It really doesnt have much meaning to me right now though.

I feel pathetic that this is where my life is.

And no, I will not be going to the mikva tomorrow. Haven't gone in years...

Help!

Monday, September 5, 2011

I'm in an "Elul" State of Mind

Just a quick note of thanks for the requests to update my blog. I have been pretty busy over the last few weeks with the kids at home from camp and not having started school. When I am busy I tend to put emotional issues and challenges aside. On one hand it's a positive because not facing my emotional truths allows me to be happier on the surface. On the other hand, I recognize its more of a band-aid and at some point the pain hits the fan and I have to look myself in the mirror once more.

Elul is here. This is one simple word. It is short and yet so powerful. Elul. I think "Elul" and my blood pressure rises. I say "Elul" and I feel my heart pounding in my chest. Boy did the yeshiva system do a job on me. First I will share what I think Elul should mean to me and then what it unfortunately does mean to me.

Elul is the precursor to the Yomim No'raim. Elul should be a time of introspection, a time of connection. As we have heard many times, Elul represents "Ani L'dodi, V'dodi Li", I am to my beloved and my beloved is mine. Elul should be a time to connect to Hashem and to others. The kitzur shulchan oruch says that there are actually 3 anagrams for Elul representing teshuva, tefilla and tzedaka. For tefilla, he mentions Ani L'dodi, V'dodi Li. He then refers to tefilla as "Rinas Dodim", a song of lovers.

Yes, davening is supposed to represent the beauty of our connection with G-d... Like lovers singing to one another. What a beautiful thought. Davening isn't supposed to be this dry,  empty and laborious exercise. It is meant to afford us a rewarding and deeply emotional experience which enriches our relationship with Hashem. To me this is what Elul should be about, developing this connection while reflecting on the positives and negatives of the year past. What took place this past year that caused distance and what allowed for connection?

While intellectually I understand this idea, I can never seem to internalize it emotionally. I went to yeshiva in which Elul was all about fear. It was this build up of dread starting with Rosh Chodesh Elul, continuing with late night and early morning selichos, rosh hashana and the crescendo of Yom Kippur. Our rabbeim took the easy road and preached fear and punishment. Death and gehinom. It was 40 days of intense feelings of guilt, worthlessness and self-condemnation. It was a time where every sin was magnified in my own eyes to a point where the burden was unbearable. I was 13 years old when this  Elul abuse started. It continued through my teenage years and even today deep into my thirties.

So how does this cycle change?

My therapist is fond of telling me to look at Hashem as a loving Zeide and not as an abusive father. What a beautiful idea. What sage advice. I want to feel this with all my heart. There are times when I get close to this goal but I just cant seem to internalize it. I feel like there is this wall between me and G-d that I can't seem to break down. Even at times in which I feel more connected and I feel His presence in my life I can't seem to tangibly feel His love. Even as I write this, my eyes are tearing up and my soul yearns for connection.

Wouldn't it be exhilarating going into this Rosh Hashana not in a state of dread, but rather with an intimate and unbreakable bond with the ultimate being? Wouldn't it be amazing walking into shul feeling like you are being hugged by a father who loves you completely and unconditionally?

Please share with me any ideas you might have. Please advise on Seforim you might recommend that can help me focus on the positive and develop this love. Please share ways that you might have faced similar challenges and learned to overcome them.

Thank you for reading.