On Yom Kippur, I would often read the following words in Viduy (Confession) with fear and trepidation:
“You know the secrets of the universe, and the hiddenmost mysteries of the living. You probe all innermost chambers and test thoughts and emotions. Nothing is hidden from You and nothing is concealed from Your eyes.”
I would worry that, if I didn’t feel fully connected to G-d in that moment, say and think all the right words, and articulate every single thing that I prayed most deeply for, that I would not receive a favorable judgement for the coming year. I am not exactly sure when I learned to reframe my perspective on those words, which I now look forward to reciting because they reassure me that, no matter how disconnected I may feel in that moment (or even generally), G-d sees the true me.
He knows what I am praying for even if I cannot articulate it clearly or even if I have forgotten to consciously acknowledge any particular thought. He knows the person I try to be even if I cannot live up to my own ideals. He sees inside of me and appreciates all of my good intentions which I may not always be able to properly communicate or act upon. Most of all, He knows me with all of my flaws, imperfections and the things about myself I like the least, and He looks past all that to my core inner being.
In our family support group, many people struggle to see their loved ones for who they truly are. Their addiction and struggles with substances have altered that person, sometimes to the point where they are unrecognizable. There is pain, betrayal, hurt feelings and anger, and it is incredibly difficult to separate the person from the addiction.
I would like to believe that, deep down, the person who is in the throws of addiction, struggling with all of the demons that go along with that battle, is at his/her core a person with good intentions, healthy desires, and positive wishes that go way beyond the current painful state in which they exist. They may be disconnected from friends, family, and life in general, but they are so much more than their struggles or illness.
Viduy is an opportunity to connect with G-d, to bare your soul and open up your heart to Him completely. How wonderful it would be if our loved ones could do the same, but their challenges make that unlikely, so we can let them know that we see them – we see who they really are, who they ideally would like to be, their kind hearts and good intentions.
In recovery, there is an expression “fake it until you make it” – this is also true for the loved ones – you may not be able to see beyond the addiction, but maybe you can pretend to see inside the person and think about how it might make you feel if you catch even a glimpse of what is truly inside – it is a gift to that person to feel known, but it is also a gift for us in the form of hope. To be truly known is rare and desired and valued by everyone.
May this year be a year of health, healing and recovery for all those who need it, loved ones and families alike.