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A Prayer to Forgive Yourself on Yom Kippur

(See last year’s prayer here.)

Yom Kippur is here, and I churn.
Like my foremothers, who stood at the helm of domestic technologies
Spinning
Weaving
Churning
Kneading
I feel my insides move and dilate.
It’s hard to think straight.

Am I here to offer apology?
To demand pardoning?
To ask forgiveness?

Am I forgiving myself?
Am I sorry for what I have done…
Or sorry that I have allowed myself to be so driven by guilt,
So stricken by these ancient feminine mechanisms of pain
That I’ve obstructed my own Divine purpose, in so many ways. Striking hand over heart, pounding it awake, like the bright paddle of a defibrillator
Delivering shock after shock
Pulsing, awakening, enlivening.

Al Cheit SheChatanu Lefanecha….
The words we intone, in every synagogue, temple and sacred space.
For these sins we’ve transgressed before you…

In the home
On the street
In the workplace
In the bedroom
On the internet
On this earth
Slach Lanu. Pardon Us. Mechal Lanu. Forgive Us. Kaper Lanu.
Grant us that magic balm of compassionate, all-encompassing atonement.

And so, I begin by forgiving myself.
I forgive myself
For procrastination, for perfectionism, and for never believing in myself as much as God believes in me 

I forgive myself
For labelling, judging, assuming, or naming another human— another woman— without knowing their situation fully

I forgive myself
For judging my own actions, thoughts and deeds more harshly than God or other humans could ever judge me, and carrying those stories with me, day after day
I forgive myself
For demanding gender roles of others, intentionally or unintentionally, passing judgement on someone’s appearance to assume their capabilities and hurting feelings in the process
I forgive myself
For following, and sometimes perpetuating, and not yet fully being free of false standards of beauty, for all genders

I forgive myself
For self loathing, for self doubt, for hating and maligning the being that the Divine has placed on this earth; and the body I have been granted to walk in alongside Spirit
I forgive myself
For walking too hesitantly, for walking too aggressively, for thinking there is anything wrong with the way I walk in the world
I forgive myself
For staying quiet, sometimes; and for being too loud, other times; and for not knowing what to say when it was at the tip of my tongue and I was just too scared
I forgive myself
For dumbing myself down; for acting way too smart; for getting competitive and for backing off completely
I forgive myself
For apologizing all the time; for pretending I don’t have a right to take up space; for carrying stories of guilt and revenge and poison with me that have only held me back

I forgive myself
For carrying stereotypes for men as well as women that have hurt our own sense of the Divine Feminine
I forgive myself
For not being perfect all the time, for thinking I’m too perfect some of the time, for forgetting that I am a work in process, and even if there is room to improve, I can still forgive and move forward
I forgive myself
For not always listening, for assuming my stories are the same as everyone else’s, and for shouting at the others that don’t listen
I forgive myself
For believing that the only way through this is to smash it all down, when perhaps with compassion we can heal and rebuild I forgive myself
Please, forgive me
Slach lanu Mechal lanu Kaper lanu