In a new review of A Damaged Mirror, therapist Sheri Oz writes about the limitations of memory and the challenge of forgiving. More than just a book review, this article plumbs the depths of the human need for control over our fate–and what happens when that control is absent.
A subconscious thought becomes explicit when it is articulated in speech. Things unspoken—and unspeakable—may have tremendous influence on an individual. A nightmare may shape one’s outward thoughts and feelings far beyond what we can ever be aware of. Until we can articulate the nightmare, and bring it into conscious awareness, we have no control over it. So it is with Teshuvah, and so it is with the Geulah.
In Teshuvah, we go through some of the same stages as in mourning, but it is for ourselves that we mourn—for the loss of our better selves, for our mistakes and their consequences. Eventually, we reach a stage where all the regret, despair, grief, and longing to make right can find expression. We express the inner turmoil and make it concrete and real, and at the same time reach closure with it. We acknowledge our mistakes and their consequences, our wrong-turns and blind allies, and by speaking them aloud, we take possession of them.
“Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find the common factor: What does recovery from trauma have to do with these three things: teshuvah; bringing a disturbing dream to Birkhat Hakohanim; and the Jewish people’s national redemption.”
Needless to say I accepted the mission…