On Saying You’re Sorry…

I started reading Amy Poehler’s book “Yes Please” and this morning I read the chapter on apologizing. She chronicles the story of being part of a seemingly offensive SNL sketch and writing a letter of apology 5 YEARS after the fact. If someone has hurt me or I’ve hurt them, I want it dealt with right quick. I hate starting new ventures with old baggage. Be it planet earth beginning a new year, a birthday, a new semester at school or a new job – I want a clean slate. I don’t like loose ends, lingering feelings, what-ifs, etc. All week, I’ve been seeing fights on social media and hearing about friend fights and family fights and romantic fights and so and on and so forth. As I was watching all this unfold, all I kept asking myself was “why don’t these people just say they’re sorry? You hurt me. I hurt you. Wait – I hurt you? Sorry! How hard is that?”

** Before I go any further: If you are reading this and I have hurt/offended you or someone you know in some way, at some point, in the last 23 years and have yet to apologize, and you feel like I need to – please tell me or have them tell me so I can. If possible, please do so before 2015. I want you to start 2015 with 99 problems and me not being one of them. Ok, back at it…**

Forgiving someone, though it can be difficult, is ten times easier than apologizing. When you forgive, you’re operating from a position of strength. Someone ELSE made a mistake. They hurt you. They were wrong. They were disrespectful. They ran over your elderly mother with a car and they messed up. All you have to do is sit on your bigger person throne and await that one special word: sorry. You forgive them, and you’re done! Easy! That doesn’t mean you’re best friends. It doesn’t mean the relationship is exactly the same but it does mean that whatever happened, happened and it’s done. Move on. It’s trickier when no apology is issued but that’s not what I want to talk about. With just a few days left until we kick 2014 to the curb – I want to give you some unsolicited advice about saying sorry…

Just. Fucking. Say it.

I have been told on several occasions that I “hold grudges” or I’m “bitter “and “unforgiving” and I’ll tell you right now – that’s bullshit. I remember the people that have hurt me the most because at some point, those people meant something to me and I would like to think that I meant something to them. I’m not angry. I don’t wish them ill, in fact, I wish them well. I may remember the stings because they left scars, but life’s too short to plot my revenge. I remember because I try to learn from it. Part of why it hurts more when a friend burns you is because, well, they’re your friend. You love them. The worst part of the fight is the aftermath. There’s a moment when you’ve stopped thinking about what transpired; instead, you’re thinking “Did I ever mean anything to them? Do they even care about me? Was I fooling myself to call them my friend? Was I blinded this whole time?” That shit lingers and it’s awful and it’s a trap. Just because the movie had a sad ending, it doesn’t mean the scenes you laughed at weren’t really funny. We’re quick to identify with the victims; but let’s be real – we’re all assholes and it’s far more likely that we’re the ones setting all our bridges on fire…

I’ve been trying really hard to be more considerate and remind myself that not all my opinions need to make it out of my mouth. Someone once told me that too often “the point supersedes the person” and this screws things up. When you decide that what you have to say is more important than the impact it might have on whomever you’re talking to, you’re walking a dangerous line. Take a painful look back at some of your worst hits… was it really worth it? Was the fight over exactly which word was used instead of the intended message worth the tears? Was the “harmless” debate worth losing the friendship? Was the list of facts about why you’re right and they’re wrong worth the crushed spirit? Was holding onto your pride instead of just saying you’re sorry worth the goodbyes you never actually wanted?

If you’re out of high school reading this (and even if you aren’t), you have to play grownup and take responsibility. It’s hard and it sucks and it’s embarrassing and it’s altogether just an awful feeling to have to admit you were the cause of someone’s pain. But you were. Intentionally or un-intentionally, you were. Truth be told, depending how long it’s been, they’re probably not losing sleep over it. But maybe you should be. If you want to re-visit the relationship, say you’re sorry and go from there. If you want things to go back to the way they were, say you’re sorry and go from there. If you never want to see them again but know you owe them an apology, say you’re sorry and go from there. If you participated in an offensive sketch on live TV and it’s been 5years but you know you hurt someone, say you’re sorry and go from there.

2015 is just around the corner and I really think you should start it with a blank slate. I want to. If someone hurt you bad, that sucks. I’m sorry.  If you hurt them back; to their face or behind their back; even if they never say it to you – no matter how long ago it was – you owe them an “I’m sorry”. So in the next 5 days, pick up a phone, write an e-mail, go for a coffee and just. Fucking. Say it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: