It’s Yom Kippur, the day of atonement that follows directly after the celebration of the Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
Today is the day to apologize and wash away the sins of the past year.
And yet I realized, as I started to reflect on those actions for which I need to apologize, that the biggest apology I owe is to myself for apologizing so often.
I am the kind of person who says, “I’m sorry” with such a frequency that friends and family actually get upset and have to ask me to stop apologizing (which usually provokes an apology for apologizing–and the cycle repeats). I am the kind of person who apologizes for trivial things and for circumstances beyond my control. I am the kind of person who apologizes for being alive.
And so, in order to atone for that sin, today I am not sorry. Today I am making the decision to stop apologizing for my life.
Now, granted, there are definitely things for which I need to apologize–things for which I own having done and for which I now humbly ask forgiveness. Things like letting some of my most important friendships lapse in the face of my narcissistic self-obsession known as ED. Like putting my family through the torture of supporting an unsupportable person during the depths of my depression. Like allowing myself to treat me so poorly for all of these years.
But there are things for which I no longer want to apologize. Here are a few:
- I am not sorry for not caring about movies. I have been to the movies exactly twice since the fall of 2010 (the first time to see Fame with a group of girlfriends from my childhood and the second to see The Muppet Movie with my grandma). Sitting in a movie theater gives me anxiety, and watching movies alone at home with my laptop does not interest me in the slightest. I have no interest in getting pop culture savvy. I wasn’t raised watching movies, and I had no pop culture knowledge. When I tried to “catch up,” I realized that I was fighting a losing battle. The anxiety of inadequacy was overwhelming, so I gave up. So before you try to engage me in conversation that begins with, “remember that film where…”: no, I haven’t seen that movie, no, I don’t know who that movie star is, and no, I am not planning on seeing it.
- I am not sorry for having been a difficult roommate. I am not sorry for liking cleanliness and order. I am not sorry for wanting to impose that upon my living space, and I’m not sorry for estranging the roommates who couldn’t understand. With the exception of two, I have had nothing but a string of impossible roommates, with whom relations eventually broke down over the state of our shared living spaces. I used to feel bad about wanting things like clean dishes, but I don’t any more. Dirt and mess are signs of laziness and procrastination–two clear indications that you do not respect others, yourself, or the space you live in. If I can take the two seconds to clean my plate or fold my laundry, so can you. I’m not sorry for how I feel about this, and if it’s a problem for you, then we clearly shouldn’t live together–end of story.
- I am not sorry for wanting to feel pretty. I’m not talking about wanting to be thin or indulging in disordered behaviors–for that, I’m sorry that I put myself through that b.s. But I’m not sorry for putting effort into the way I look. I went a year without wearing makeup, buying new clothes, getting a manicure, etc. I chopped off all of my hair because I couldn’t be bothered to spend time styling it. But there is something really important about investing some time in your appearance. Like putting the dishes away shows that you can respect your space, taking the time to leave the house at least put together shows that you respect your person. And I’m not sorry for wanting to respect the person I’m living in.
- I am not sorry that I don’t drink alcohol. I don’t care if you’re a social drinker or need alcohol to have a good time. I don’t. I’m not interested in going to a bar. It’s just not my idea of a good time. Maybe I’ll have a glass of wine on a special occasion; but then again, maybe not. I’m fine with water and waking up in the morning without a headache or a fuzzy mouth. Do what you want, but please don’t comment on my temperance. It’s my choice.
- I am not sorry for caring about health and fitness. Again, I’m not talking about the compulsive, excessive exercise and the obsession with restrictive eating; I’m talking about finally, for the first time in my entire life figuring out how to achieve a balance that will lead to optimal health. (That means potentially pissing off some vegans and marathon runners with the science that I’m going to quote on my blog, but I’m finally okay with that. I’ve realized that I can’t win ‘em all…and it’s silly to try if that means compromising my values and beliefs.) I’m going to do what works for me without letting anyone–ED included–tell me that I’m doing it wrong. It’s my body, my life, and my health.
- I am not sorry that I didn’t follow my life plan. Up until very recently, I was incredibly depressed by how my life turned out so far. I’ve realized that no one’s life follows the original map. But though it’s far easier to dwell on the delays, detours, and bumps in the road, the fact of the matter is that looking out the window and experiencing the scenery, the wind in my hair, the clouds and the stars in the sky above is a lot more enjoyable. So I’m not going to apologize for the fact that I’m not an Ivy League success, for the fact that I’m not living on my own or with a partner, for the fact that my body isn’t perfect, for the fact that I don’t have children or a high-paying career-of-my-dreams. Instead, I’m going to love the fact that I live in the mountains, that I am incredibly close with my family, that I have my ridiculous dog who snuggles my feet at night, that I’m learning to be happy in my body for the first time ever.
So, for those of you who are fasting today (I will not be, for hopefully obvious reasons), I wish you an easy and meaningful fast. And as you ask forgiveness for the past year, don’t forget to forgive yourself. You are the most important “you” that you have, and you deserve your love and forgiveness just as much–if not more than–anyone else.