I know a woman, a woman so fragile and yet so strong. She spends nearly her entire day trying to stay afloat. She knows that she needs help. Deep down, there is a burning desire to live, not just to survive. And so, with each ounce of effort she can muster, she does it. She goes to therapy, she’s in treatment, and she comes to me for help as well.
I know with all herShe spends her days trying to stay afloat might that she tries to heal and to grow. It’s nonstop effort. I am so proud of her courage and will to invest in her life.
She came to me the other day, and I could sense that she felt low, really low. She has demons from the past that haunt her. As she describes it, like “a monster inside.” This monster tells her that she’s worthless, no good and tries to control her mind. It doesn’t allow her to eat, sleep or feel good inside.
It’s not that she was doing great (great is relative), but she was doing OK. Then something happened, what we call a “trigger.” The trigger became a festive meal for the monster that told her, “Don’t eat!” And now she can’t sleep. Which is a form not of living, but dying.
In the midst of our conversation, she murmured, “I am a failure. I will never get better.” I stopped her. “YOU are not. You had a setback. It’s normal. Yes, a setback is dangerous in your case, but you are aware of it. You reached out for help. Your actions show how much strength you have; you are so strong! It’s a new day. Today, we get up and move on.”
It could be that a person acts impulsively, impatiently, unhealthily, deceitfully, but they are not their act. It could be that a person has a disorder. But that’s only one part of them; it doesn’t define who they are. It describes what they have or feel. What challenges they might be dealing with and what strengths they were created with to overcome.
That means that even if someone stole, the moment they stop doing the act of stealing, they are not a thief. A person might have an addiction, but they certainly are not their addiction, and the moment they make a commitment to abstain and get help, if needed, they are on the way.
You are not a label, a letter or an addiction, but yes, you might have a tendency or a disorder. You might have a trait that says you need to be constantly working on or an addiction that needs constant vigilance and support. But you are a pure soul that is housed inside of a body with many, many traits, talents, and yes, some weaknesses.
Each morning, we say in our prayers, “G‑d the soul that You gave me is pure.” Each morning, we have to say this prayer anew to remind us that today is a new day, with new opportunities, opportunities to connect to our Creator. As long as a person lives, he or she has the chance to start anew.
Rosh Hashanah, the New Year, is right around the corner. We refer to this holy day as the Day of Judgement. Without a doubt, the month preceding this awesome holiday should be filled with self-reflection, introspection, self-judgment. You have to be aware of your mistakes, your weaknesses, your challenges in order to put the effort into working on them. We have to take responsibility for our thoughts, actions and behavior. But Rosh Hashanah is also the new year, a new beginning; it’s also referred to as the Day of Remembrance. We ask G‑d, “Please, remember our merits, the merits of our forefathers. Remember the sacrifices that they made.” We ask G‑d to remember, but so do we!
We have to rememberWe are inherently pure and good that we are inherently pure and good, and each day is a new day and a new opportunity. We have to remember that we are complex (in a good way!) and multifaceted. G‑d gave us the power to change negative behavior. We have to remember that a single act doesn’t define who we are and neither does a challenge; instead, we can use it to grow, and become stronger and better.