Recently someone from my past apologized to me. Twenty years after this person did something to me that warranted an apology. The something they did was pretty bad. Pretty sad. Pretty hurtful. And had a very big impact on me. It actually changed the way I trusted people, the way I let people into my life, the way I made decisions….it affected quite a few things in my life. It changed me. Made me quite cynical. When someone hurts you I guess it can do that.
So when the apology came I was surprised and shocked and it was very unexpected. And I guess that could have gone either way. Even more surprising was my reaction. Without missing a beat I accepted the apology and replied with “No apology needed, it was forgiven years ago. But thank you and I accept your apology.” Holy shit who the hell AM I? That is certainly not a response I would’ve given fifteen years ago. Maybe that apology came exactly when it was supposed to. And after the words came out of my mouth and onto the message that I sent to this person I realized that everything I said was actually true. I had forgiven years ago. I DID accept and appreciate the apology. You know why? This person meant it. And maybe it took 20 years to really mean it. So Im glad they didn’t say it before now. I REALLY REALLY AM.
When my Dad died there were a few phrases that got repeated that made me want to strangle someone. “God wanted your Dad more than you”, “At least he died doing what he loved”, “he is in a better place” and my ALLLLLL time favorite “everything happens for a reason”. It does not. I am old enough to know that now. There is not a reason for everything. And that is OK. But of all of the things that all of the people said to me then I by far cherish this….my dear friend came up to me at the funeral, hugged me tight and said “I AM SORRY”. And she said it clearly and looked in my eyes as she said it. She meant it. She really, really meant it. She was so sorry for my loss, my pain, the situation. And it is all she needed to say.
I think in ways those three words are both over utilized and under utilized. So strange how that works. How often have I spurted out “oh sorry” at someone and not really meant it? Too often Im sure. I can’t remember. What I do remember are the times I DID mean it. When I hurt someone and I say “I am sorry” I hope it comes across with all that is intended. I hope they know I am sorry I hurt them. And when someone loses someone they love and I say “I am sorry” I hope they know that with all of the conviction and intensity my heart can muster how much I am sorry for their loss. That I know that loss. I know that pain. And I am so sorry they have to feel it.
Fifteen years ago I don’t think I would have been so forgiving. And that is a shame. I think it is necessary to forgive even when no apology is given. For our own peace. My 22 year old self DID NOT feel this way however. It was a very unkind thing they did to me. And it hurt. And perhaps its time to forgive the 22 year old me for the things she did wrong too.
As soon as the words “I am sorry” were uttered recently to me I knew how much meaning was behind it. I saw the 20 years of regret. I knew they were truly sorry for the pain they had caused me. And funny thing is…I had let it go years ago. Maybe because so many sad things have happened to me since then that it seemed like no big deal. Maybe because I grew up. Maybe because I knew they were sorry long before they could say it. Maybe…maybe…I am forgiving after all. Damn maturing thing. Sneaks up on ya sometimes. I forgive. I completely and utterly and lovingly forgive you. I think I already had but those words you mustered up and were brave enough to send 20 years later are greatly appreciated. And my heart is peaceful.
It would be nice if none of us ever hurt each other. But this is real life and that is not possible. Do yourself a favor. Say you are sorry more. Mean it more. And forgive more. Its good for the soul.
And the 42 year old me is smiling for the 22 year old me. Thank you old friend. 😉