A Scary, Personal, Yet Public Atonement

In the immortal words of Moira Pfefferman, “I am a Jewish woman and Jewish women do whatever the fuck they want.”

So, here goes.

5575 has been a strange year for me.

It was a year of a lot of pain.

But also of a lot of growth.

Like a muscle being torn apart to grow back thicker and stronger, I have begun a process of evolution into emotional strength, sinewy and tall.

I have been aggressive this past year. I have been defensive and afraid. I have shouted and screamed. I have been self-involved. I have allowed others to disappear into me. I have been unable to see people for who they are. For this I am sorry. I am sorry to every person I sought my own validation in when I was not strong enough to find it myself. I am sorry to every person I rose my voice at when I could not find the quiet resilience to stand up for myself in any other way.

I’m sorry to every person I’ve accidentally spread a rumor about and to every person whose secrets I’ve knowingly let slide from my lips. I’m sorry to every person who I’ve made feel unwelcome in my presence, too dependent on the glimmers of support I felt to ever share them. I’m sorry to every friend, acquaintance, or stranger, that needed an ear, eyes or a smile that I was unwilling to give. I’m sorry for growing resentful when I was unable to communicate what I needed, and for getting angry, harsh, and mean when others could not guess how I was feeling because I did not have the wherewithal or bravery to explain it. I’m sorry to any person who cares about me for assuming you did not.

This year, I have turned my back to the beach and shouted out aimlessly and angrily at the wide lonely ocean before me.

I’m sorry to every person in my life whom I withdrew from.

I am sorry to every person that I have locked out of the house, left on the front lawn of my being while the sprinklers were running. I am sorry for holding it against you for not breaking down the door.

But most importantly, I think this year what I want to atone for is how I’ve treated myself.

On Yom Kippur, we’re meant to ask forgiveness three times to people we’ve wronged. I’m only going to write it once, but maybe you can read it three times if you’re feeling extra traditional.

Dear Jo,

I’m here to ask your forgiveness for what I’ve tried to convince you about yourself.

I’m sorry for forcing you to be in situations where you feel uncomfortable or unsafe as some last grasp at normalcy. I’m sorry for insisting you put what is fair to others above what is fair to yourself. I’m sorry for convincing you that anyone else’s wellbeing hinges primarily on you. I’m sorry for constantly whispering regret in your ears, some allusion to the idea that you were not or are not strong and brave. I’m sorry for convincing you that any actions or words at your expense, not just in the last year but the last ten, have any bearing on your being or your worth. I’m sorry for making you carry the heavy consequences of those actions over your shoulder.

And like we are expected to openly atone, we also are meant to spend Yom Kippur openly forgiving. So,

Dear Jo,

I forgive you for living through it all. I forgive you for seeking solace in the dark, damp, crevices of your life. I forgive you for being slow to forgive. I forgive you for loving openly and stupidly. I forgive you for loving carefully and critically. I forgive you for being afraid. It’s okay. It’s okay to expect more. It’s okay to accept less. It is okay to change your mind. It is okay to change.

If I’ve learned anything since last Yom Kippur it’s that we’re all doing the best we can with the information we have. I guess that understanding is kind of what this holiday is about. Do with it what you may. If you’ve made it this far in this post, thank you for reading so much fleshy rawness in my words without judgement. And thank you for seeing me.

Easy fast,

Jo

p.s. Sorry this is so sappy but eh? It’s the holiest day of the year gimme a break

 

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