“I am sorry. I apologize. I regret to inform you. I wish I could take it back. Sorry.”
We’ve all heard or said some form of apology in our lifetime, some sincere, some not. As a born and raised Canadian girl, I am especially good at apologizing. In fact, it is fairly well-known that we northerly folks get recognized world-wide for our constant state of sorriness, as well as the saying, “eh.” Overall, there are certainly much worse things that we could be known for, so it’s one of those things that I think most of us Maple Leafers are willing to accept. I dare say they are also things that we seem not to be able to change. It’s in our DNA, if you will.
As children growing up, we are usually taught by our parents when, how and why we say sorry to someone else. More often than not, name-calling situations, yelling “I hate you”, and pushing our siblings’ buttons come to mind specifically. Oh, the good ole days, eh? When we reach the edge of adulthood, we find ourselves in new, uncharted territory and sometimes make poor choices in friendships, budding relationships, and even our work environments; all of which we slowly begin to realize that we are actually responsible for. Imagine that! At midlife the things that we are sorry for often reflect a mindset shift from sorriness to thoughts of actual regret and/or wonderment at previous life decisions– the ‘what ifs’ that we all seem to know so well. This is where I am at personally. Maybe you find yourself here too. Beyond a certain age, I think we simply aspire to reach a stage of acceptance at what was and what is to what will be, if we are lucky enough to get there, and we realize that in some situations, it’s almost too late for apologies, be it giving or receiving them. After all, we do the best we can with the knowledge that we have at any given time in this life of ours which we are all trying to navigate. Of course, you can never say never and often illnesses or death bring about moments of clarity and forgiveness that we might never have otherwise considered.
I believe that not all people or situations can be forgiven, nor should they. I also don’t buy into the notion that one cannot move forward in one’s life without forgiving another or being forgiven. Sometimes, I think we have to accept that our journey may not intersect quite so nicely with another person’s lot in life, ‘let bygones be bygones’ as they say, and move onward and upward on our own path, taking valuable lessons learned with us at minimum. The difficult part is that these stalemate instances are often tied up in loved ones, be it immediate family or the families that we choose or raise, leaving us with some gut-wrenching decisions. Do we continue to invest our time and energy, both positive and/or negative, or do we cut our losses and continue on? Let’s be honest…there are times when the answer to that question eludes us our entire lives, explaining some of our personal struggles.
Three years ago, I was presented with an opportunity to receive an apology from my ex-boyfriend’s now ex-common-law spouse who wanted closure for her part in knowing that together they cheated on me years prior. Ironically, but not surprisingly, their relationship suffered the same fate that mine had, as he went on to hook up with yet another woman during their relationship. An interesting and convoluted scenario to say the least, and at first, I will admit that I wasn’t super receptive to the idea of accepting her letter. The surprisingly still-hurt part of me silently thought, ‘Let her figure it out on her own, just as I had to.” However, after further consideration, I got over my own stubbornness and could not deny that her willingness to reach out at all and right a past wrongdoing was quite admirable really: a testament to good character and that perhaps she deserved the chance for closure, as much as I deserved the words that I had longed to hear from my ex more than a decade and a half prior. And, if the “I’m sorry” had to come from her versus him, well, it was better than nothing and maybe it would help me to finally close that chapter as well. In the end, I was grateful for her handwritten apology more than I realized and I definitely felt validated in the fact that I really had been wronged since my ex vehemently denied it, and clearly still does. How do I know that he is still in denial of his own behaviour? Well….
Recently, I saw my ex and it stirred up some of those old, unresolved feelings. So, I did what I had wanted to do for a long time and said my piece to him. I wrote him a letter, nowadays called a text message. It felt good to express what I had been thinking/feeling on and off for close two decades. Deep down, I knew not to expect anything different than what I would have when I was in my 20’s sobbing my way through what seemed like the longest summer ever, but there was a fleeting moment wherein I had hoped that maybe he had grown up a bit over the years and would be willing to admit what he had done. Indeed, nothing has changed and if anything, his canned response, albeit he did respond, only confirmed what I knew at aged 29, and that was that he was NOT the one for me. Thank goodness hindsight is 20/20! While his words, or rather lack thereof, were empty, mine carried a powerful ‘thank you’. Yes….you read that right. I thanked him for letting me go, so that I could realize my happiest self and live life with my now husband who loves me the way everyone deserves to be loved with a love that is pure, unconditional, and lasting! When I put it that way, it’s easy to see that in this case no apology from my ex was even needed in the first place because he unknowingly gifted me the rest of my life. For that, this Canadian chick is not sorry! Not even one little bit…eh? 🙂