You know, people who know me always lecture me about family, and how important they are to a person. My fault in my friend’s eyes is that I don’t take my family seriously enough, and that one day I’ll regret it. I’ve always agreed in theory with what they’ve said, but practically I’ve never felt like I was part of any such family unit that required this kind of unity that people talk about. It always seemed that my family’s motto was "look out for number one".
I’ll give you one example of what I am talking about. I’ve been in China for three weeks as of tomorrow. Yet where is my family? Have I received even one call from anyone? Is my father so busy painting the basement that he is too busy to call and to say hello? Is my mother so wrapped up in her life with her new husband that it is too much of a burden to reach out and say hello? I’m sure when he goes to China she’s on the phone with him multiple times a day. I could say with comfort and relief that the only person who has kept in touch with me is my brother who luckily is online often enough to catch him to have a quick conversation. I’ve corresponded with my brother on the instant messenger, but other than that and a quick short e-mail telling me that "mommy would like to say hello but..." where is the rest of my family?
Then come my friends. My wonderful friends whom I care about so deeply. One of them is so busy with procrastinating for his dental exams that he hasn’t written me to even say hello. The other one kindly responds with good conversation, but is like a closed cistern when it comes to saying anything about his life. Other friends are married, or have lost interest, and the others are too many states away to keep in touch on any level that would resemble a normal level.
I suppose all of this is my fault. I don’t reach out enough and I don’t make myself part of other people’s lives enough to be included in anything that is going on. You know, my Rabbi’s wife gets annoyed at me when I don’t keep my cell phone on me. What she doesn’t realize is that keeping my cell phone on me saddens me because it doesn’t ring. Friends don’t call. The only calls I get are those demanding my time or my money. Why bother having a cell phone where the only time anyone calls is when they need something from me, like to offer a free entry into a sweepstakes plan for a million bucks, or to check if I am satisfied with my banking account?
I suppose it is a double-edged sword. I don’t connect with others, so they don’t connect with me. But the reason I don’t connect with others is because I am tired of having one-way relationships with people who don’t share their lives in return with me. I feel like I am the one that is always calling, always visiting, and always reaching out. Yet I don’t feel connected. I don’t feel connected to anyone at all.
Could this be my depression talking? While what I am saying is objectively true, do I keep a barrier around myself protecting myself from harm? Do I build a wall so high to keep the bad stuff out that I don’t let other people in? I wouldn’t even know where to start. My solution is to find friends who are like me, but I haven’t done that. There is a lot I haven’t done. I have had hopes for years that I should forge myself into the person I want to be by developing interests and skills to put into my psychological tool belt. China is another one of these tools. So is speaking Mandarin. Stupid me, what good is anything I know how to do if I have nobody I care to do it with?
The tough question becomes then finding the right partner. I know or hope to G-d that the rabbi and his wife have at minimum one shidduch (woman) lined up to date me when I get back. After all, I have committed not to date on my own, and I was told to trust them that the right girl would be discovered. I however, sincerely hope that I have not changed too much on my trip here in China. This whole opera business and the whole line of thought into singing and acting and congruence within religious observance have messed with my mind and have brought me to a place I think I should have come to long ago. However, I wonder whether I will be "not religious enough" to fit into the group I was part of when I left.
The interesting part is that I have not deviated from my normal religious observance. I have just made some external adjustments in my dress and in my belief systems that are now more congruent with my inner thoughts and feelings. I wonder what difficulties lie dormant waiting for me when I return to my established life in the US? I read in a blog that people who become less religious do so because they have good reasons for doing so. I am finding being religious one of the loneliest experiences of my life. Whether I am living the truth or not, I don't like the social or the emotional circumstances that have surrounded me since I have become religious.