I walk in filled with shame and despair. I see my life squeezed of hope. There are so few options. I’m doomed to repeat my sins.
Then I speak and stammer and close my eyes and shift in my seat and regain my posture and stare out the window and confess.
"I’ve never told anyone that," I say. "I’m embarrassed."
And it’s OK. My therapists never say, "You’re a bad man, Luke Ford."
I talk about the relationships I’ve torched.
Oy, there was that holiday dinner. I brought over this book on Mussar. The sayings of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter, particularly one about bricking up the women’s section of shuls so they wouldn’t speak lashon hara (gossip).
It was a Chabad home. They lived a Judaism of joy. They’d hosted me half a dozen times. They were appalled by the misanthropy that tripped off my tongue as I read aloud excerpts from the sacred text.
The woman of the house walked over and tried to rip the book out of my hand. "Give me that!" she commanded.
On the way out, a couple made arrangements for their Central American nanny to drive most of their stuff home. I was discombobulated by the sight of Orthodox Jews stuffing things in a car on a yom tov.
"Is she Jewish?" I asked about the wife.
"Shh!" I was told.
I looked around and the wife was right there. She heard me.
Of course she was Jewish.
Oy, I was so ashamed.
I never got invited back.
When I ran into the host at Ralphs, I could only exchange awkward greetings. He wanted nothing to do with me. And it had been four years.
"Could it be repaired?" I’m asked today.
I never thought of that. I didn’t realize you could muck up a friendship and then make amends. I thought it was just gone.
Possibilities. Yes. I’ll do teshuva. I’ll make amends.
Therapy helps me see so many possibilities.
I walk home with a spring in my step. I take a mile detour to pick up my mail and then another detour to pick up nectaries and bananas.
I cover over four miles even though I just had the flu.
I feel strong because I sense possibilities.