I've been struggling a lot leading up to Yom Kippur this year. I've been remembering my study sessions in the Youth Lounge at my synagogue and missing my Beth Emet family, and I've been anxiously worried about my lack of control over the future. So through all of this mess of thoughts, I think I have pinpointed just the thing about Yom Kippur that is making me feel this way:
I find that every day for me is Yom Kippur. Every single day I go over my mistakes and thing about what I've done wrong. And every day I am hard on myself, so I've been asking myself this week, as I get more and more anxious leading up to the holiday(which begins tonight), is how can I make Yom Kippur more meaningful for me and also not let it destroy me. Let's take these things one at a time: I think that the liturgy of YK is still meaningful regardless of whether I am fasting or doing anything else, and this is the one day when all Jews are commanded to think seriously, so I have something in common with them which can also make the experience more meaningful.
How do I keep from spiraling down into a bad mental place on YK? This is a question I don't actually have an answer to. Teshuvah can be translated as return, but what am I returning to? Returning to my past self? But I'm not proud of who I used to be. So where am I returning to? I am returning to a more spiritual state, and in a way a state that is exactly the opposite of YK: a state of self acceptance and self care. And I realize that this isn't the original point of the holiday, however, this is what it is for me, and I think that's okay. And it's okay that I'm eating. And it's okay to not be okay, especially on this holiday.