I haven’t posted here since early October. I haven’t taken my meds since long before that. What I said a couple of posts down was really true — before you get diagnosed with depression, make sure you’re not surrounded by assholes. My old job was a killer, quite literally. The irony of a religious institution being soul-sucking is not lost on me. It was the exact opposite of what I had expected. A place for my soul to be nourished and my faith to be strengthened.
Instead, after 5 years, I left mentally and spiritually battered, so what I did after my last day was enact a near-total separation between me and my old Jewish community and me and Judaism. I let my husband drive the kids back and forth to religious school, and I separated myself from any and all inner workings of the place. I barely skimmed the newsletter, and I didn’t care too much about what my kids were doing every week in religious school, the very same school I used to run. I became one of those disconnected parents I lamented all those years.
But I was content, if not happy. Just weeks after my last day at the school I started a new job — a job in my chosen field, and one that I really enjoy and have excelled at. I’m coming up on my 6-month anniversary and it’s going better than expected.
Except for this.
At my old job I was constantly surrounded by people, many of them admiring. I was a popular teacher and had a real connection with the teenagers in my community. I miss those kids, but it’s weird for a non-teacher adult to have too close of a relationship with high schoolers. And it’s not just the kids I miss. I had a staff of 15 teachers with whom I was in constant contact, for personal and professional reasons. As frustrating, infuriating, and stressful as it could be at times, it kept me connected to people and community in person.
Now most of my social life is online. I don’t deny that those connections can be “real,” in the same way that sending letters in the olden days could maintain a real connection, but it’s still virtual and isolating. I don’t need to talk to friends on the phone any more, so I don’t. I text and I send Facebook messages, and I have political conversations through my Facebook statuses.
But when my 40th birthday rolled around 10 days ago, I realized just how lonely and alone I had become, and how many of my good friends are so very far away. The top 5 people I would have liked to celebrate my birthday with in person live in 5 different cities, none of them mine. I had a decent turnout for my birthday party at a local club — 12 people. Had I still been working at my old job there would have been at least double that, in addition to celebrations at my work.
There are three of us on my new team at work, and on any given day only 1 or 2 of us are there in the office. My new coworkers are nice and congenial, but they are not my friends, and I don’t know if they ever will be. I might miss some of the benefits, but I won’t again risk the entanglements of personal relationships at work.
I keep telling myself that my New Year’s resolution will be to reach out more and to get out into the world more, but like I said, I just turned 40. I know myself well enough to know that probably won’t happen. I am feeling old and unchangeable, physically as well as mentally and spiritually, so making another promise to break seems childish and a folly of youth. I am resigned.