Living Amends

So many times in my life I have been presented with something I needed to hear at just the right moment. It’s as if an angel took over and was speaking directly to me. Every time this has happened I have received the message loud and clear. This exact thing just happened to me tonight. I am a fan of the show Private Practice not just because of the amazing storylines, but because it is the one show on tv that deals with issues surrounding infertility. Tonight’s episode however was the messenger I had been looking for as I try to move forward. During the show, Violet, who is a therapist, is having a session with a client who is dealing with some anger issues. She explains that the only way to overcome the anger issues is to figure out what it was that triggered it in the first place. The client then reveals that many years ago when he was trying to find food for him and his sibling, he resorted to robbing someone. A struggle ensued and the gun he was holding went off accidentally. The other person was shot, but before he was caught he ran away. He never found out what happened to that person and has been living that nightmare since then. That is where his anger manifested. What is eventually suggested to him to help with his struggle is something called living amends. I had never heard of it before. At this point in the show I felt like I was being spoken to directly as it is something I have been struggling with for a while now.

Living amends is about changing your behavior moving forward. I look back at the last two years and what I’ve done in response to my situation and find myself in a catch-22 struggle. I want nothing more than to ask for forgiveness from my ex-husband for my infidelity, of which he has no idea, but doing so will hurt him beyond imagination. Herein lays my struggle. How do I get forgiveness from him if I never tell him what I’ve done? I can’t.

My readers now know a lot about me, but one thing I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned is the fact that I am Jewish. I am not very religious, but I am slowly learning that my faith is something I’ve missed over the years. As some of you may be aware, Yom Kippur occurred the last full week of September this year. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the holiday, it is the Day of Atonement when you ask G-d to forgive you for your sins. During the 24+ hours, you fast and repent as you ask for forgiveness for the sins you have committed. This is forgiveness from G-d and not from those whom you have wronged. It is your responsibility to ask for their forgiveness. Towards the end of the last service before the break fast, it is customary for you to stand for the majority of the time. It is at this time you are at your weakest both physically and mentally. There are many people who choose not to stand, partly because my family attends a more reform synagogue, but also because their health may not allow for it. Because we attend services all day long for the most part, the leader gives the congregation the option to fulfill their obligation to stand during one of two earlier parts of the service. Some find it easier as they haven’t gone quite as long without food or water. By the time the holiday ended, I had stood for all three portions of the services. I did this for two reasons. First, I was grateful that my health allowed for me to do so. This is not something I take for granted. Secondly, I did so as a means to punish myself. I am not able to ask for my ex-husband’s forgiveness without causing him great pain, so I stood before the congregation and before G-d as I repented for all my sins. It was during this time that I knew I needed to make a change to better myself, but I didn’t know how to do that.

I may never be able to get the full forgiveness I so desire, but that is something I am going to have to live with. What I can do is make living amends. I can live my life in a manner that would be deserving of forgiveness. I can stop being someone’s secret (which I have done). I can vow to be completely honest with the next person I start a relationship with. I can stop hurting others who don’t know they’ve been wronged. I can live my life in such a way that shows I have learned from the mistakes of my past. I am ready. I understand why I did what I did. I do not use that as an excuse, but rather a means to recognize what the trigger was for me. I know of so many people who are in the same situation I was in and see so many parallels in their behaviors. I feel right now like I have been rebooted and my operating system is finally functioning without its blinders. If not hurting my ex-husband anymore than I already have means I keep this part of our past to myself then that’s my burden to live with. Now is my chance to make my living amends, and that’s exactly what I intend to do.

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