Our Season of Mistrust

We’re just a few days away from Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It is a time for personal introspection. An opportunity to take a moment to look back at the past year and evaluate it. Time to consider what you have been through, what you have done and whether you have done wrong to others. Time to think about what you want to do and how you might do it.

Throughout my life there have been moments where I have been filled with doubt about whether this big blue marble showed up because of divine providence or if it is nothing more than random circumstance. During happy times it is easy for me to say that yes, there must be some sort of higher power, but not so easy during the harder moments. The harder times make me harder and less likely to believe.

But the thing about Rosh Hashanah that I like best is the introspection. I like it because it doesn’t require belief in G-d to do that. It doesn’t matter whether I think he/she/it exists or not. I don’t need that to take a look inwards. I don’t need that to try and determine whether I like what is going on in my life or whether I don’t. Don’t need that to figure out if I have treated people well or poorly. Nor do I need that to figure out someone has done me wrong.

All I need for that is a few minutes of quiet time and it becomes readily apparent to me. One of the common practices during this time is to take a moment to ask those you interact with for forgiveness for any transgressions you might done to them. Time to say that you are sorry if you have hurt them intentionally or otherwise.

Some years I have joined other bloggers in making a public apology but I am not going to do that this year. At the moment it doesn’t feel right. Much rather do it in a way in which it is clear to whom it is directed.

And that leads to the next piece of this puzzle I am building. I am sorry to say that I know more than a few couples who are in the process of getting divorced. Even worse is that it is starting to get nasty, thus the title of Our Season of Mistrust.

I do what a friend does, I sit and listen to their stories. I am happy to give them a safe place to vent. I don’t bill you by the quarter hour for the privilege of listening to why you no longer trust/like/love your soon to be ex. I listen and I don’t offer judgment- it is not my marriage. If you want my opinion and I think that it is safe I’ll give it to you, but only if I think that it is safe.

Because the thing about love is that it is the sort of emotion that can make you exceptionally happy or sad. I know that it sounds like a contradiction, but it is true. And sometimes when that happiness turns to sadness it evolves again to something called anger. Thanks to Yoda we all know that anger leads to the dark side and that is a bad thing.

That dark side makes it possible for us to say and do terrible things, but only if we let it. Because most of us have the choice to act or react to any given situation. And while I won’t say that I have never reacted to something I can say that most of the time I don’t. It is a learned skill and something that I try to practice. Most of the time I succeed and the secrets that could explode due to anger simply don’t.

So let’s tie that into our divorcing couples. Two of my friends have divulged very personal things to me. As I sat there listening he told me about how very angry he was and how he wanted to share this secret with the world. I counseled against doing it. Told him that it wasn’t smart to get into a tit-for-tat because you couldn’t tell where that would go.

And I told him that he needed to remember that she was trying to provoke him- to what purpose we didn’t know but it didn’t make sense to play a game that he didn’t know the rules for. And I told him that if he wanted to be able to remember the good times he needed to give it all time to cool off so that there would be good memories to remember.

Though it might feel good to cater to the dark side it was and is smarted to not paint yourself into a corner. Don’t say things you’ll regret or make it impossible to go back. And then I laughed and shared a story with him that I recently heard. Told him that if visualized this time as being a walk across a bridge he might be happier.

The bridge is burning so there is no going back, the only thing you can do is move forward. And that my friends is what I want to do with this coming Rosh Hashanah. I don’t want to focus on what has happened. I only want to move forward. Time for new beginnings and new opportunities.

My friend looked at me and said that he thought that I was crazy. But I told him that I am not. This is what I believe. New beginnings are open and available to us. Told him that they even existed between him and the soon-to-be-ex. And then I gave him an idea that his attorney might hate.

I said that he might consider setting up some one-on-one time with her. Stop talking through others and do it face to face. I said that he might feel better if he could hear her words from her, body language and tone of voice are important.

Don’t know if he is going to try it or if he’ll continue to speak through intermediaries. All I know is that we all have to find what works for us. As for me, well I think I am ready for some introspection. Got to run for a bit, see you in a few.

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  1. TheJackB September 7, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    Hi Ann,

    I think that you are absolutely right. I am watching my friends go through some of this- the fighting over the children is awful. I hope that they figure it out sooner than later.
    My recent post The Return of Soccer Dad

  2. TheJackB September 7, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Nope, no group apology this year. The people who need to hear from me will. And I hope that those who need to speak to me will do so as well.
    My recent post The Return of Soccer Dad

  3. Ann's Rants September 7, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    Nice post, Jack. I, too, feel very grateful for this season of introspection. And now, sadly, I must quote Dr. Phil. He says that in divorce you don't end a relationship with your spouse, you just begin a different one.

    I think this would be helpful when spite threatens to consume someone completely. Especially if you have kids–this person is still going to play a huge role in your life. Eventually you will have to find a way to work with them.

  4. Rebbetzin's Husband September 7, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    You really won't join in the apology?
    My recent post Gifts to give your Rabbi

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