Just a bit of teshuvah from the Yamim Noraim:
You know better than anyone how angry and resentful I get whenever anyone tries to suggest that we’re two different people. Imagine my surprise when, in this season of reflection and repairing personal relationships I found that the one person I really needed to talk with was you. To be honest, the real reason I get so angry when people talk about you as a different person is that I’m afraid what they’re saying is that they love you and they hate me because I’m the reason you’re going away. I feel bad that the people who love you are going to miss you, but I can’t help but feel resentful too. After all, I’ve been here all this time, watching them lavish this love and affection on you without even being aware I exist. It hasn’t been easy.
I know none of this is your fault. You didn’t ask to be the one born on the outside, any more than I asked to be the one born on the inside. It was hard work, but you put on a brave face and did what you thought you had to do, even if you didn’t always know why. What those people who are angry with me don’t realize is that without me, you’d never have been with them for as long as you were. They didn’t know, and couldn’t understand, what a terrible, frightening place the world was for you. They didn’t realize that all the love and attention in the world wasn’t enough to fill the big, empty space inside you that seemed to be getting bigger every day, no matter what you did. They weren’t there all those times when the only thing holding you back from throwing yourself over the edge was me and my stubborn determination to be born.
I know it hurt sometimes to have to go on living just because you happened to have been born with me inside you, but I hope it wasn’t all bad. I hope that because of me you may have experienced a little of the joy and excitement about life that was so difficult for you to feel. I hope you’ll be happier being a part of me than I was being a part of you.
Most of all I hope we can let bygones be bygones. I know things haven’t always been so great between us. There have been times when you’ve tried to get rid of me. Please believe me when I tell you than I don’t resent you for it. That said, now that things are changing we need to settle our differences and move on. As difficult as it may be for both of us to accept it, neither of us can live without the other, and I’m not sure about you, but *I want to live*.
Please try not to worry too much about the people who loved you. I realize that for much of your life the only thing that kept you going was your concern about how they would feel if you were gone. Those are admirable feelings, and they really do reflect the best of what you had to give. But I promise–I love them too, just as much as you did. After all, wasn’t I there all along, helping you take care of them when you didn’t know what to do? I know they’ll miss you, but in time they’ll come to understand why you had to step aside to let me out into the light. Some of them may even learn to be proud of you for the courage it took to do something like that. In the end, I hope there will be a time when they will recognize the best of what you were in me. I know I’ll try my best to make that so.
In conclusion, my strange conjoined brother, I want you to know that whatever your failings, I forgive you for them. How could I do otherwise? They are mine too. But more than that, I want you to know I love you. There have been times I wouldn’t have been able to say that, but now, this year, on Yom Kippur, I find that I can, and I give my thanks to God for that gift. I wish you all the peace that was never yours.
5 thoughts on “A Letter to Colin”
Hey my friend 😀 Thank you for writing this and for being willing to share. I’m still processing your words and they really hit home for me as I try and figure out how I fit into this world. I hope we can talk soon, and what I will say for now is I love you and so glad that you are here in this world.
This is one of the most amazing things I have ever read! I had no idea about the struggle you were living with, but I am so glad that you have found a way to live with yourself that allows you to feel more whole and at peace with yourself in the world, and for sharing your story with us, your friends, as it unfolds and evolves. You are adding to my understanding and helping me to be more aware of others’ struggles. I think that there may be ways that this is a story we can all relate to on some level, as there are parts of us that we may deny out of fear of what other people might think, or other pressures, causing us to feel diminished or hidden in some way. I celebrate your courage, your insight, and your creative voice! Yasher koach! Wishing you a sweet, sweet year. Much love, Lisa
So powerful. Thank you for sharing this important way to view Teshuva. You are a mensch!
Shabbat Shalom my friend,
Thank you Leiah! Thank You!
This is beautiful, Leiah. Teshuvah is one of the hardest things to do, especially when it’s yourself you have to forgive. There’s very little in the Jewish tradition about forgiveness of the self—we’re up to here with bein adam le-ḥavero and bein adam le-makom, but there’s really not much about what to do when it’s yourself you wronged, and when it’s yourself you need to forgive. I admire you for having taken steps toward doing this. Yishar koḥech and shanah tovah u-metukah!