Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Gift for Rosh Hashana (Part II)

(Part I)

As I have mentioned in previous posts, this past summer I underwent a very difficult breakup with someone whom I loved completely and whom I thought I would marry and spend the rest of my life with. She was everything that I could have dreamed of; she was smart, well read and had a spunky personality. She was someone whom I could talk to for hours on end. She brought something out in me. She helped me become a more outgoing person and to open myself to the world. If nothing else I will always be grateful to her for that.

Because of my Asperger syndrome it is difficult for me to tell if people are upset with me or if a relationship is going south. I suspect, though, that even a neuro-typical would have been caught off guard in my situation. Last I checked if your girlfriend suddenly gets over her aversion to having you spend money on her, asks you to buy a plane ticket to visit her, has you take her to see a Broadway musical and gleefully tells you that if you were not religious you would so be getting laid then one assumes that things are in good shape. Be that as it may she dumped me. She asked if we could still be friends and I agreed. I was angry and hurt but I sucked in my pride. I knew that she was going through some difficult times. She needed to simplify her life and I am what she simplified. She was having me pay the price for her mental stability but I agreed. If she needed me I would be there for her.

This “friendship” lasted for two weeks until suddenly she did the one thing that I had many times begged her never to do to me because it would put me in a dangerous depressive spiral; without any warning she cut off all contact with me. Because of my Asperger syndrome I am not good at dealing with issues up in the air; I need things said straight out. Because of my depression I am very vulnerable to anything that hints of abandonment. (See here) For the next two weeks I lived on the edge. Had she done this one thing that she knew could hurt me? Was she just busy? Was she just upset at me over something or did she decide she needed a bit of a breather from me? I did not want to bother her. By the end of this time period my depression had caught up with me and I crashed for several days. I tried to talking to other people, but the person I really needed to speak to was her. The fact that I needed to speak to her but seemed unable to do so made everything all the worse. I ended up putting myself into the emergency room. Throughout my worst bouts of depression in high school I had never once had to be put in a hospital. I tried getting in touch with her directly. That failed. I tried through intermediaries but to no avail. My rabbi even called her but she flipped him off as well.

Now Rosh Hashana is coming. I admit that I am tempted to pray that my girlfriend should take me back or that she should be run over by a truck. (I know that these represent opposite extremes, but that is the nature of love.) What I want for Rosh Hashana is just a chance to speak to her one more time so that I can forgive and be forgiven.

I do not understand what I have done to cause her to do this to me, but I assume there must be something. I do not believe that I am a saint; the fact that I have Asperger syndrome makes it quite likely that I did something hurtful without intending to. Strangely enough I find the thought that I have wronged her to be comforting. If I have done something wrong then I can try to make it up to her; at the very least I could hope to ask her to forgive me and that she will consent. It is better than the alternative that I am the innocent victim of her malice. If she is simply a horrible evil person, who maliciously tried to hurt me, than I am stuck at a dead end. Being the completely righteous one may be empowering but it is rather lonely. What comfort is there in being justified in shaking your fist at the world?

Living in doubt, wondering if I had potentially done something wrong, though, is particularly debilitating for me. Am I such a monster that someone would find themselves unable to speak to me? I must be because otherwise she would have spoken to me; at the very least she would have sent me a message telling me that she was breaking off contact. But, if I am a monster, what is my crime? Is she afraid of me? When have I ever given her reason to think that I would hurt her? I am left with the specter of potential sins, which I cannot identify and therefore cannot banish, leaving them to haunt me.

In addition to being forgiven, I also want to forgive. Soon after I was cut off, I wrote a “J Accuse” letter, which set forth in very specific detail my case against her and how she “wronged” me. I was sorely tempted to post it, but I refrained from doing so. It would have been difficult to defend in terms of loshon hara, gossip, but what really stopped me was the realization that I would be defining myself in terms of hate and I would be stuck with that. I do not want the burden of carrying all this hate no matter how dearly I earned the right to carry them. It does not matter how right I am; this is a poison and I want nothing of it. I have no particular desire to remain part of her life. For all I care she can go her way. I do wish, though, that we can go our separate ways as friends.

On Rosh Hashana there is a custom called tashlich where we go to a body of water and cast bread crumbs into the water. This is to symbolize that our sins have been thrown away. I do not want to carry my sins and the sins of others against me. To the person whom I speak of, if you are reading this (I like to flatter myself that you might still actually read this blog) please understand. I do not want to fight you. I do not want to yell at you. I am not trying to convince you to come back to me or even to continue talking to me. All I want is to know is that you do not hate me that you forgive me for anything that I have done to you. I want to be free of my own anger against you, to say to you that I forgive you and mean it with all of my heart. Can we do a tashlich together? You can cast away all your claims against me and I can cast away all claims against you. And we can just let all of this float away so that all that would remain are the many happy memories that we shared. You could then go your way and I could go mine. We need never see or speak to each other again, but we would still be friends.

This Rosh Hashana all I want is to be forgiven and to forgive.


Anonymous said...

For what it's worth...I'm a wonder at your ex's explanation that she dumped you to simplify her life.

Don't get me wrong, relationships take time, effort and energy. But in a good one, the benefits should (I hope) outweigh the investment in time. I'm chronically ill, taking 30 credits this semester and working 25 hours a week. My life is busy and complicated.

I stay in my relationship because my boyfriend helps me cope, as I help him cope. If he were complicating my life, I wouldn't be able to deal. My life without him would be no simpler, and more stressful.

I hope you find somebody to share your life with. With my own social and medical problems, it was difficult finding anybody who wanted to consider a relationship and, given my own asocial nature, it was even harder for me to meet people. I can't imagine having the additional difficultly of also dating within a relatively small religious community. I admire you.

Also, on a practical level...I've never been diagnosed with Asperger's, but I do NOT read social cue or body language well. I don't relate to people well and I don't socialize. My boyfriend and I have found that to prevent total breakdowns in communication, both parties have to spell things out clearly. So far, it's working, and he's gotten used to me rather...blunt way of stating things.

l'shanah tovah, a little bit early.

Anonymous said...

It's very unlikely that you did anything to provoke being cut off so abruptly and completely. Anyone who would do such a thing to someone they are in a relationship or friendship with could act the same way in a marriege. Who needs that? Sensitive, caring individuals do not act this way. I suspect she's done this before. Do not beg her for forgiveness. Resist the urge to contact her. You've got to move past this, as hard as it will be. Chasiva V'Chasima Tova.

You have been spared.

Miss S. said...

People are hopelessly foolish; and it only gets worse and worse as the years go by. Living in the "information age" we get exposed to all sorts of things and so much time is spent running for greener pastures. "I" deserve better than this; "I" should be more like ___ ; "I" wish I had ___ ; "I" am ashamed of my ____ . It's hard, but you can't really blame people too much for lack of appreciation and even borderline cruelty. So much of society is operating with blinders on that they are incapable of seeing the treasures they already have in their lives.

We have to allow those people to run on; it is very unfortunate that they knock many others down in the process, but it's inevitable. That sounds pretty callous, I know -- but I've just seen too much to be 'delicate' about it. :-(

People are strange when you're a stranger
Faces look ugly when you're alone
Women seem wicked when you're unwanted
Streets are uneven when you're down

When you're strange
Faces come out of the rain
When you're strange
No one remembers your name
When you're strange
When you're strange
When you're strange...

(from The Doors...of course)

Izgad said...

I would like to thank all of you for your very kind support. I feel stronger knowing that you are out there.