Saturday, October 4, 2014

To Redeem One Person Is To Redeem The World

I received a rather unsettling call last week from the county jail. . The call came from one of my “honorary daughters;” young women I had counseled over the close to twenty-five year span I spent as a psychotherapist (1974 – 1997). She was one of a handful who kept tracking me down, begging for more of what she had once had from me in those years.

Each one of them had, indeed, been a hand full! I had not wanted to give them more.

Several days later I received a follow-up letter. The letter looked dark and ugly and crazy and felt correspondingly so. I didn’t welcome it at all. I literally screeched inside my mind when I saw it.

Thank goodness there have been only a handful who have challenged me thus!

I was taken aback by the insanity of that letter. It had the appearance of graffiti; words written all over the envelope, so dense I wondered the postwoman could read my address, with messages represented as ordained by Jesus himself. Inside, along with gibberish I could not fathom, were several cartoons, clipped from who knew where, matching the envelope in offensiveness,.

I do appreciate the love, respect and devotion with which these women have honored me. 
Yet the boundaries of professionalism have decreed, along with common sense, that enough is supposed to be enough!

Clients are not privileged to simply adopt therapists as if a therapist could be assumed to be an adoptive parent, pledged to orphan children.

I can appreciate the yearning of these “honorary, self-appointed daughters” of mine. With both my parents long gone, on occasion I have wanted a stand-in parent or two. But certainly I have not been in need of more children.

I already have two, a girl and a boy, a sufficient nuclear family and an enormous dysfunctional, extended family system which for all its complexities still holds the central importance of my life. 

But try as I might, I have not been able to permanently fend off this small band of groupies.

Cyclically they lose their periodic swarming on me like a plague of locusts, returning again and again.

Short of filing a protective order to keep them away, I believe I have tried every humane, possible option to dissuade their proclaimed affectionate attachments to me. Nonetheless, each of them is about as welcome in my life as the stink bugs that are, again, invading our local territory.

It is with this challenge imposing itself upon me that I embarked upon the final stages of Yom Kippur, the most sacred of Jewish holidays.

Sin upon sin, consciously known or unknown, I am called, in keeping with the holiday, to examine the limitations of my personhood on this last day of the Jewish Ten Days of Awe; awe being the promised outcome of a character and soul sufficiently white-washed to officially begin another good year.

So what am I supposed to do with this visitation from an unsolicited fan of mine?  

The quandary challenged me as I began the final assessment day of atonement.

Should I turn my back on her when she is in dire need, again, having relapsed into her drug addiction and prostitution?

Even if it is for the umpteenth time over the past twenty years I have known her?

Should I ignore her pleadings when she has somehow gotten me, again, confused with her salvation? 

Although I am quite certain I am not the Messiah!

Answers for our salvation do not come easy, I reflect.

Then prayerfully I beseech that Power Greater Than Me, speaking the words of my heart, I plead --

“Please G-d, redeem me from “women who love too much.”

Then, behold, a light illumines me, as if from on high, beaming forth to liberate my consciousness.

Maybe the one person I am most responsible for redeeming is -- ME, first!

Jewish New Year of not – there comes a time when enough is simply enough, even when being charitable!

May all good people be inscribed in whatever good book they love for a good year ahead.

Jewish New Year, 5774.

L’ Shanah Tova.


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