Restless Night

Not much sleep. I can’t get warm. June gloom. I feel ill at ease. Am I just starting to sense the enormity of my anxiety? Is that why it feels so keen right now? Am I letting down my defenses? Is that why the anxiety is flooding in? Am I surrendering my delusions that everything is OK?

On my 45th birthday, I was asked, “Are you all set up for meals [for Shuvuot]?”

It was such a painful question to answer because the truth was I had no invites. I must’ve flushed and blushed and stumbled through my reply. I felt awash in shame. I’ve lived in this community since 1994. How come I’m such a pariah?

I came here and people welcomed me. Every Shabbat, I had an invite. Then, starting in 1997, I blogged my way out of the Jewish community’s good graces.

I don’t want to look back at my 13-years of isolation. It’s too painful. I don’t want to face it. I don’t want to consider what might have been. Yet, when I am warmly ensconced in the home of a loving Orthodox family, I can’t help but drift to what might’ve been. How did this experience of community elude me for so long?

“I don’t want to face it,” I told my therapist. “It’s too painful to look at. I want to push it away.”

Perhaps I should face it anyway. I need to write this all out so I can come to peace with my decisions.

When people say things that bother me, well, that’s just a signal that I need to come to clarity. When I have clarity, nothing upsets me. When people give me a hard time about my beard or my vegetarianism or my Jewish observance, that doesn’t hurt me. It only stings when they touch on things I’m sensitive about, haven’t come to terms with, haven’t resolved in my own mind, such as, why are you not married?

Gavin Brown emails: You’re no pariah, mate. You’re just an inconsequential bloke around whom people choose not to associate. Mainly because you’re a boring prig, endlessly going over the same topics while thinking you’re clever and superior to everyone else. That’s why you didn’t get invited to my birthday party when you were a child. Did it feel good when Wayne Cherry’s mum intervened and forced us to allow you to attend? Well, mate, no worries. Rest assured you’ll never be invited to another one of my parties — where we crush tinnies with our girlfriends and wives and have a fair-dinkum jolly good time.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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