“Sometimes an apology is an amends, but sometimes an amends is more. Sometimes you gotta make shit right” -Brene Brown
This ideal is easier said than done in a world that thrives on superficial, egocentric narcissism and vapid pride. We are so scared to admit our faults and display to someone that we are, in fact, human and that means sometimes making mistakes and being wasteful and/or reckless with the things we say and do. So to protect ourselves and our fragile egos, we deflect blame, we project our insecurities with being flawed, we divert attention away from our missteps and several other things to keep ourselves from having to eat humble pie. We do things to avoid accountability and responsibility, unaware of the power of a simple yet genuine and heartfelt, “I’m sorry.”
About one and a half years ago, I received such an apology and felt the healing powers thereof. An ex who I hadn’t spoken with for over three years contacted on facebook after ending things rather harshly. Naturally, I was incredibly leery because I wasn’t particularly sure of what to expect after a considerable amount of time had passed. I cautiously accepted his friend request and he immediately messaged me. He asked how my family and I were doing and I obliged with roundabout answers. Then he proceeded to apologize for the things he said and did in our past.
Initially, I was stunned. The person I knew him to be in the past was unyieldingly stubborn, narcissistically headstrong and perpetually proud. I knew him to be the kind of person who would rather the world crumble around him than to admit he was wrong. Because of this, I’ll confess that a part of me was waiting for a catch or an ulterior motive to reveal itself but I am happy to report that wasn’t the case. Instead, he explained that he was going through some emotional things that he didn’t quite know how to articulate at the time. It was so vulnerable and honest, my heart could do nothing but open to him and accept his apology.
Anyone who is willing to apologize humbly for their mistakes is nothing short of a courageous hero amongst commoners. There are two ways I know of to tell if someone is being honest with their apology. The first is compassionate atonement. If someone is doing everything in their power to make things right with an empathetic heart, that is someone who has integrity behind their words. The other way to detect honesty in an apology is when there is an absence of ego and pride. The ego hates humility and it can’t stand to be wrong but asking for forgiveness completely suffocates the ego and you are able to feel their heart being poured to you.
I never expected to hear this person humble himself to anyone, especially me. I didn’t really even expect to hear from him at all. But it’s funny the random blessings that fall into your lap when you’re not looking. One thing I learned from this experience is when someone is willing to eat humble pie in front of you, you might as well share a slice between the two of you. They say it takes two to create a conflict and two to fix it and that statement couldn’t be any truer. I was also able to stop being so damn self-righteous and apologize for the way reacted and responded to him because Lord knows I’m no angel either.
I have even taken the cue from this brave individual and ate humble pie with some people I have wronged in different ways in my past. It’s a delightfully freeing feeling to say it and to hear it. It opens the doors for deeper, honest conversations sans blame, guilt, judgement and shame. We are free to communicate to listen instead of argue. And it is when we are able to lay down our swords of defiance and self-righteousness that we are able to bring peace, compassion, healing and, most importantly, love into the relationships in our lives.
Recently, I was able to visit him and his family, with whom I was very close, and catch up with them before my road trip out west. I feel so incredibly blessed by this entire experience. I created closure within myself concerning our relationship but through his beautiful and gracious humility, that closure has now morphed into resolution. But the best part of it all is that I see him no longer as an ex but now, as a friend.