Average Jane

Atonement: Making Peace with Me

“Now, that… that’s what you might want to see a therapist about.”

I felt duped. The chicken was coated in corn flakes and baked, not fried, to golden perfection. But furtive eyes made me believe they were hiding something. Indeed, they were.

“Have you heard of Ina Garten?” he asked with hesitation.

“Butter. There’s butter in this, isn’t there.” I knew it. It was too good to be true. “This isn’t as healthy as it looks, is it?”

“No. Not at all. But divided by nine…” he admitted.

“There’s enough butter in this that it has to be divided by NINE to make it seem reasonable?!” I snapped. He had been so kind — opening up his home to me for our “last supper” before Yom Kippur fast. The company was lovely, the wine was delicious, the table was set to perfection. But the whole thing was ruined for me when I realized I had just eaten an unhealthy… very unhealthy… meal. I apologized a million times to this host for freaking out. How do you explain to someone that you have “issues” with food? How do you convincingly thank him for his hospitality while perseverating on calorie counts and impending stomach aches?

After services, conversation was sparse. I was embarrassed and he was confused. “Are you ok?” he asked? “Yup,” I replied as I walked 3 paces ahead of him, arms crossed, head down. I wasn’t mad at him. I was mad at me. And the words just didn’t come.

During Yom Kippur services this morning, we talk about starting anew: forgiving those who have sinned against us, and asking for forgiveness from those whom we have sinned against. I thought about my friends, my family, my coworkers, all people who we transgress against all the time. I promised that I would do better and be better in the year ahead. But then I realized that the person I transgress against most is me.

I am unreasonable with myself. I am harsh. I am disrespectful. I don’t cut myself any slack. And I deserve better. As I began to recognize these transgressions I started to cry. As I apologized to myself, I cried harder. He leaned over to ask if I was ok. I nodded. It’s also a strange question, though. I’m not ok or else I wouldn’t be crying. But what can anyone do?

I babysat last week for a lovely family in Arlington. Two successful parents with two adorable kids. The four year old was a handful, but a big help with the little guy. The little guy, though, is who I connected with the most. He was built like Thomas the Tank Engine (possibly an osmotic result of watching him so often), small but powerful. With Kung-Fu Panda-like skills, he could climb his way to any cookie in the house. He knew what he wanted out of life: Park, “Appahjoose”, and “Sooby Doo”. Sometimes he wanted “EyeSeeeem” and other times “Ehmo”.  He barely cried and was easily consoled. And he loved me.  He barely knew me, but he loved me. He trusted me. He needed me. He had more faith in me than I had in myself.

I would leave every day feeling exhausted but accomplished. I felt confident in the decisions I made during the day. I felt like I had impacted a life. I didn’t think about me all day. I didn’t worry. I didn’t perseverate. I just played and fed and changed diapers and picked up toys and put in videos and went on walks and fed and changed diapers again. Two year olds are so confident. They know everything — just ask them. They don’t worry about things, and that may be the lesson I learned from watching him smile so brightly for so long, appeased by a crayon or a pretzel or “Sooby Doo.”

I made some promises to myself today: Be nice. Be strong. Get better. “Better” is up to my discretion, of course. I think I’ll start with getting better at having faith in myself. I’ll get better at trusting people. I’ll get better at having respect for myself and my body. I’ll get better at not worrying about things I cannot change, and yes, I’ll invest in a therapist to get that done.

Oh – and I’ll get better at writing funny posts again. This time of year always gets me down, but trust me – there are stories to be told and you’re gonna love em.

Happy New Year.


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  1. * Emily says:

    Happy New Year, Jane. Funny stories are always entertaining, but you also have a knack for writing the tougher ones very eloquently.

    I can relate — I think I’m harder on myself than anyone else is. I always strive for perfection, and am constantly disappointed that I’m not. 🙂

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 6 months ago

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