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This picture sort of makes me giggle.  We (alcoholics) have been ‘fessing up to the good stuff since the minute we walked through the door.  Our interest in confession may well be that we learn in A.A. how good it feels!

I shouldn’t say this blog is like church, but better for your mood, because some people find church very uplifting.  I admit that I have been moved and inspired by some sermons I’ve heard.  But overall, I think there is this sense of admonishment in the church setting…that we’ve done something wrong (or something is intrinsically wrong with us) and that we need to focus on repentance and finding forgiveness for our wayward path.

I’m Jewish by birth, and for a Jew, the only way we can be forgiven for our sin is through a process called Teshuva. The process looks something like this:

  • Regret and acknowledge the sin.
  • Forsake the sin.
  • Worry about the future consequences of the sin.
  • Act and speak with humility.
  • Act in a way opposite of the sin.
  • Understand the magnitude of the sin.
  • Refrain from lesser sins (so as not to commit greater sins.)
  • Confess.
  • Pray for atonement.
  • Correct it however possible.
  • Pursue works of truth and goodness.
  • Do not commit the same sin again!
  • Teach others not to sin.

Oy vey! I kibbitz you not with this.  remember the sin for the rest of your life?  It’s like shlepping a heavy sack of potatoes around and then kvetshing about the pain!

So I’m incredibly grateful that this is not the story of A.A.  Because there is certainly plenty wrong with Nina, the alcoholic.  I’m trying to figure out where blackouts fit into the picture of a Jewish confession.  Feh!  But in A.A., instead of telling me I needed to repent, they said, hey, clean up your side of the street and then you’ll see how all these ‘wrongs’ are going to make a beautiful, inspired sober life that carries a message of freedom and recovery to other suffering alcoholics. That’s your amends. It’s a living one. Get it together and start acting right, no matter what you think.

So it leaves me in a better mood. I guess you could call that turning the phrase…in other words, it’s like church. Confess (in the 4th step) and then clean up your mess (in the 9th step). But confessing to a drunk is a whole different kind of experience than confessing to your Rabbi!  Over the years I’ve discovered that this special someone is rarely shocked by anything I say. Most of the time they laugh in my face and throw out a story of their own to match mine play for play.  I’m encouraged to clean up my messes, not because I’m an intrinsically flawed human (a shikse, a goy…bahahaha!) but instead, because it will make me a better person.  Who puts mayonnaise on pastrami on white bread? OY!

When I own my part, I don’t have to own yours. When I’ve made a thorough and honest amends, there is nothing left for me to do but step back and see where the road (between me and you) takes us. And that is the beginning of a certain kind of freedom.