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Free to Fly

Sarah Chana Radcliffe, M. Ed., C. Psych.

This time of year brings a chance to clean the slate, to start anew. We want to forgive and forget, and have our own wrongdoings forgiven and forgotten. We dream of starting fresh, stepping happily into a future that’s unencumbered by the baggage from the past. But how can we get rid of the ballast that’s weighing us down?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

On Yom Kippur, Hashem offers us a glorious opportunity as He cleans us of our sins, rendering us “as white as snow.” Unfortunately, we have trouble accepting it. How many minutes pass after the final shofar blowing before we find ourselves sliding? Almost immediately there’s bickering and stress, relationships colored by previous battles and unhealed wounds. Time to break the fast. I’m tired, weak, and irritable. But the babies don’t care — they carry on with their usual demands. The older kids want food RIGHT NOW and my husband is nowhere to be found. Even though I spent the day reflecting on my faults and shortcomings, determined to finally overcome them, I immediately start snapping at everyone. When my husband finally shows up, so do the decades-old disappointment and frustration. I’m still abandoned, still neglected — and still mad about it. You wouldn’t want to break the fast with us! Removing the baggage of the past is an essential part of healing the present. Superficial, “it’s a new day” self-improvement programs that don’t address the past tend to fail when it comes to our most significant relationships. Pain incurred through interactions with loved ones — parents, children, spouses, and siblings — has a way of resurfacing no matter how intent we are on starting fresh. Even wounds incurred by friends, colleagues, bosses, community members, or others continue to ooze into our consciousness despite our desire to move on. When we ask Hashem to help us heal so that we can actually forgive these people wholeheartedly, we need to be working on that healing ourselves.

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