Month: December 2019

Overcoming Oppressive Guilt


The last couple of decades have not always been easy. I’ve got more than my fair share of trauma to speak of. And just when I thought I was starting to get a handle on things, physical pain started to become an all-consuming reality in my life.

But one of the biggest plagues that has harmed me over the years is guilt. The ever-pressing feeling that I’ve done things and made irreversible decisions that have and continue to cause myself and others harm.

Oppressive Guilt

And it isn’t easy to live with yourself when each and every day these oppressive feelings swarm into your mind. It isn’t easy when you cannot let yourself have a moment to breath without negativity creeping its way back to find whatever little crevice it could crawl its way into.

And when moments of happiness are marred by guilty feelings, you know it’s time to make some changes. You know it’s time to look deep into yourself and figure out if there’s anything that can be done to either fix the past, or at the very least move on from it.

Collateral Damage

And it would be so much easier if the past only hurt me.

My decisions along the way were mine. Only mine. If they harmed me or continue to cause me pain, so be it. But when the aftermath spills out and burns others in my life, especially those closest to me, sometimes the guilt is just unbearable.

Forgiving Myself

So I’m setting out with one of the more difficult tasks I’ve ever had to perform: Forgiving myself.

I don’t expect this to be a short and easy road, but it all begins with me putting one foot in front of the other.

The Past Lingers

One roadblock will inevitably be that the elements that caused me grief in the past are still around.

There is a Jewish teaching about someone who goes to a ritual bath to get purified while holding something that inherently causes impurity. They can immerse in the waters all day long, but every time they emerge, they are becoming impure once again.

Their Sisyphean task will never be complete.

And that is how I feel right now. I need to not only work hard to forgive myself for the errors I’ve made, but I need to work tirelessly to not allow things to enter my heart that will set me back. All that accomplishes is increasing the hurt exponentially, and the guilt comes pouring forward once again.

The Challenge of Self-Forgiveness

Why is it so hard for me to just look in the mirror and say, “You got this, Yitzchak. The past is the past. Let’s kick ass from here on out!” Why can’t I just let go and realize the blessings in my life far outweigh the challenges that have beaten me down along the way?


Because life is complicated. And the human spirit can only take so much before it is weakened to the point of submission.

No Excuses

I make no excuses. My failings are mine and mine alone. And I have by no means given up hope.

But I need to recognize the reality of the situation. No matter what I accomplish, no matter how good things can get, and no matter how much time has passed, there is one thing that still keeps kicking me down every single day of my life. And that is guilt.

Guilt marred my ability to be truly happy in the year before I moved back to Israel. How can I smile knowing full well that my children are an ocean away from me? How can I let myself even have even small moments of joy when I’ve made decisions that continue to cause grief to me and those closest to me?

Guilt Snaps Me Back

I sometimes see folk do a workout at the gym where they tie a resistance band around their waist and anchor it to a pillar or the like. Then they run forward. No matter how hard they push, ultimately the band will snap them back into place.

It looks like a fantastic exercise, but it’s a sad and unfortunate metaphor for the impact I believe guilt has on my life.

There is so much I wish to accomplish. And for certain I am not walking around without which to be proud. However, I don’t think I’ve accomplished a fraction of what I’m capable of. And I believe it’s guilt that’s holding me back.

Do I Deserve It?

Every time I move forward, every time I’m sure I’m going to get to some next stage in life, that exercise band just snaps me back into place. The feeling swarms me again that I’m not supposed to have great things. That somehow or other since people have had rough times because of the decisions I’ve made, there is an inherent limit on how much success and happiness I deserve.

Is any of this true? Is there a basis in reality for anything I’m feeling or experiencing?

Guilt is Poison

You might look at me with pity and tell me thoughts and feelings are silly or baseless. But they’re still there. They’re like a poison that seeps into my blood and crawls throughout my system whenever I feel like progress has been made.

And despite the philosophical knowledge that I can take all my guilt and let it go, when was the last time life were that simple? When was the last time anyone was able to take pervasive emotions and just cast them aside because on paper they don’t make sense.

And the guilt only makes the problems worse. The people who’ve suffered along the way, suffer more because of my guilt.

Fighting the Uphill Battle

I have an uphill battle ahead of me. I have so many years of being pulled in the wrong direction, that moving forward feels simply impossible.

However, the guilt can’t win. It doesn’t deserve to win.

I have all the tools in place to start fighting back. The next step is just to dive in and start learning how to forgive myself.

Today’s the first day of forever. And it’s going to be a good one.

It just has to be.


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Posted by jaffeworld in divorce, judaism, opinion, personal story, 0 comments

Five Videos You Need to See… When You Just Need to Shut Off and Laugh


It’s been one of those decades.

Earlier I wrote about five movies that are a little off-the-beaten-path. Movies that consistently give me pleasure and enjoyment, well past their primes.

But we don’t always have time for movies. And sometimes we just need to get to that point where tears are dripping from our eyes with laughter. Sometimes we just need to shut off all the crud that’s been bothering us about the past ten, twenty, thirty years, and laugh our asses off.

But, of course, we’ve all experienced those moments where nothing is doing the trick. We’re down some awful rabbit hole on YouTube, hoping and praying that something can bring laughter, or even a light smile to our faces.

What we really need, more than anything, is a few go-to videos. Videos that consistently make us cry with the giggles each and every time. So I would like to present five of mine, in no particular order. Here are five videos that have made me crack up more times than I could count.

A brief warning: I don’t like cursing. It’s not my thing. But for humor’s sake… I’m happy to make a few exceptions (for both curses… and perceived curses).

The $*%&*^ Count

Many of you have probably been blessed to see Jimmy Kimmel’s famous bit called This Week in Unnecessary Censorship. For this sketch, brilliant and fantastically patient writers comb the media looking for great places to bleep out words (and sometimes blur images) to create an hilarious effect.

While diving down the rabbit hole of these endless comedy treasure troves, I stumbled upon the following video, and I still cannot watch it without cracking up hysterically.

OK, so my sense of humor might still be trapped in middle school. I get that. Perhaps this enhanced my experience as a middle school teacher

But if you can make it through this video without cracking at least one or two guilty smiles, you may have no sense of humor whatsoever.

Even Stephen Colbert is Laughing

Stephen Colbert is a very funny man. And God knows, I truly miss the Colbert Report, when comedy was original… and not exclusively about Donald Trump.

But the only thing funnier than when Stephen Colbert dazzles us with his whit and composure, is when he can’t hold it together. In extremely rare moments this comedic icon just can’t keep character. And those short instances might just even be better than the show itself.

There are some legends surrounding the reason for Colbert’s reaction, but I don’t know how much of any of it is true. However, I can tell you that I have shed tears watching this clip multiple times. It’s priceless.

By the way, there’s another great example, where Colbert discusses a new beverage called Dewitos, which is a Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew drink. Sadly, I could no longer find the clip on YouTube. But hunt for it! If you find it, you won’t be disappointed.

Louis CK on Divorce

I’ve written once or twice about divorce. It might be a subject I know a little about.

However, whereas I write about divorce extensively, both in this blog and in the form of eBooks, the masterful (albeit controversial) comedian Louis CK has done so much more than I could ever imagine in just a few short minutes.

Now, this clip isn’t just funny to me. During some of my darkest days I would listen to these hysterical words over and over again. There is something so refreshing about taking a painful and damaging subject and injecting such levels of humor into it.

The process of surviving that period was not a simple one for me. But laughter is one of the ways I got through it all. And I am forever grateful for those who have so mastered the art of comedy that they were there for me when I needed them.

But even if you don’t need any pick-me-up in a difficult time in your life, just listen and enjoy. These jokes are golden!

My Favorite Substitute Teacher

OK, I know I am by no means the first to recommend this video. It’s quite the popular.

But I had to include it. It’s extremely funny. Every facial expression from every actor is perfect.

And on top of that, there are so many little bursts of truth embedded in the video. And I couldn’t create a list like this without paying tribute to Key and Peele.

I’m not sure what’s funnier to me: The humor of the video or the fact that I’ve heard real Baltimore inner city stories that are just as bad as what we see here.

Regardless, this video didn’t just make us all laugh. It changed American culture. And has even had an impact on the names people choose for their children. If your name was Jacqueline or Aaron before Key and Peele’s famous Substitute Teacher sketch, it’s guaranteed some things have changed for you since.

Sorry about that. We appreciate that you took one for the team though.

The Only Four Chords You Need

Finally, this is my favorite YouTube video of all time.

I’ve easily listened to it a hundred times.

Now, this video, albeit humorous, is not exactly a laugh-out-loud or an uncontrollable giggling kind of video. It’s a brilliant commentary on the state of music over the past several decades in the most pleasant and exciting way.

These Australian musical comedy geniuses deserve to be listened to by the masses. I just listened to it again. Still entertains me each and every time. If you’ve never seen this video… well, you’re welcome.


And there you have it. Five fantastic videos that could brighten up just about any day. Thank God for YouTube. And thank God for laughter. Today was tough… and now it’s that much better.


Do you have any videos that consistently make you cry from laughter year after year?


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Posted by jaffeworld in Entertainment, 0 comments