As Yom Kippur approaches, my Facebook feed is filled with my peeps offering messages like this:
If I have done anything to offend or hurt you in the year gone by, please forgive me.
While I totally appreciate and welcome the sentiment, it does give me pause. One the one hand: it is great to send out a blanket apology for being a jerk or a pain in the neck, or a cause for frustration, or a nuisance, or a bitch, or overly hysterical or forgetful or even temporarily unkind. On the other hand: perhaps the request for forgiveness should be less general and more specific.
Like, for example, actually calling (oh, who am I kidding – texting is about as far as I can go) the woman who felt that what I considered to be well-meaning help was actually stepping on her toes? I want to tell her that my heart was in the right place, but, upon reflection, I absolutely understand and respect her reaction. I know that, me being me I will likely do it again, but not because my apology isn’t real, but because I am a flawed individual…just as we all are…some more than others.
Or I could reach out to another woman who, during the early morning rush of school drop-off gave me a long and protracted death stare when I began to pull out of the circle (not slowly and carefully enough) and camethisclose to hitting her car. I knew who it was, although we’d never met, and drew conclusions about her based on this extremely brief encounter. I had made a mistake and, in my mind, at the moment, her reaction was wayyyy over the top. I arrived home soon after to find a Facebook message from her apologizing for getting so upset – she felt lousy, the kids were late and she just wanted to be home with a warm cup of tea. We quickly resolved the issue which was never an issue, but not before I had asked another friend about her, sharing her behavior in the parking lot. Yeah, that was unnecessary and unkind. I should apologize for that, too.
I feel remorse at thinking smack about a kid who messed with Jess. She’s just another 14 year old trying to navigate life. I know how hard it can feel at 51, shame on me for not remembering what it was like at 14.
I’ve quietly judged other parents’ behavior, knowing full well that mine could be judged harshly as well.
There’ve been times that I have “punished” my husband for something benign (he’s such a doll…most of the time) that I carry around from the first time I was married. Sorry, babe. I love you so.
Sometimes my back is up when it shouldn’t be, causing unnecessary aggravation and irritation in people I care about. Totally my bad.
Once, years ago, I took the tenets of Yom Kippur to an epic level. The wife of an old friend was never particularly friendly to me in the many many times we were in one another’s company. Me, being me, took it personally and to heart. It drove me crazy, in part because I couldn’t understand it. (At the risk of sounding completely obnoxious, people generally like me. At first, anyway. I am definitely a little bit too out there, irreverent and filterless for some.) And then, one night, we bumped into this couple at a loud, crowded and likely overpriced kids’ restaurant, all of our kids surrounding us. We said our hellos and I received the same chilly reception I had seen before. It was right around the high holidays and I was feeling emboldened, repentant and open to change. With genuine curiosity I looked her right in the eye and asked,
“Have I done something to offend you?”
She was completely taken aback. With a kind smile and fervent warmth, she apologized vigorously. I had not, in fact, offended her and she is not unfriendly…she’s shy. (In my slight defense: there has never, in the history of Levinsons, been a shy person, so my experience is limited at best.) Yeah, I get it…for a shy person, I am a lot to take in. Fast forward twenty years later and that shy woman and I are still friends.
Sometimes we get off on the wrong foot.
Sometimes we have a bad day and act in a way that is neither pleasant nor a true reflection of who we are.
Sometimes we allow what we have heard about someone to cloud and form our own impressions.
On this Yom Kippur, I do hope that if I have wronged or hurt or insulted or infuriated or frustrated or angered you that you can forgive me. And, because I am nothing if not honest, I further hope that you feel that you can let me know. Text is fine.
I’m going to be a perfect mother, stepmother, wife, daughter, daughter in law, sister, aunt, cousin, friend and (hopefully) employee this year. Yeah, that’s not really a thing….but I am going to try.
Wishing you a calm and meaningful holiday, an easy fast and a joyful, gratifying, healthy and prosperous new year. Oh, and if you were stupid like me and didn’t do a proper caffeine ramp-down, I wish you some extra luck.