“Apology is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift.”
– Margaret Lee Runbeck
I caught myself doing something pretty silly this morning.
Now, mind you, doing something silly is a pretty regular occurrence in my world. So if I wrote about it every time it happened I wouldn’t get much else done. But this one kind of struck a nerve for some reason.
So, I’m riding down the road on the way to work listening to my audiobook like I always do. I have the audiobook downloaded to my phone and it’s connected to the car radio through the auxiliary cord. I usually keep my phone’s sounds on silent (if you call me, sorry – I’ll never hear it). So when a notification “ding” came through this morning, I immediately reached over to get my phone out of the seat and turn the sound off so the annoying dings wouldn’t keep interrupting my story. It’s hard enough for me to be in a decent mood as it is on any given day, so a morning ride full of dings would definitely start me off on the wrong foot. As I proceeded to disable said dings, I remembered I had a few apps open that needed to be closed. [Sidebar: I can’t STAND to have apps open on my phone. Or little red notification numbers. Or emails in my inbox. How do you barbarians live like that??] So, as I got a little swipe-happy removing whatever errant app I had left open, I accidentally closed my audiobook as well.
As the app closed and the story came to an abrupt halt, the first words out of my mouth were, “Oh shoot! I’m sorry.”
I apologized to my own self for turning my book off. Geez!
Once I realized what I had done, I had to laugh about it. I mean, how dumb can a person be? Apologizing to yourself? Ha!
As the day wore on, I somehow just couldn’t stop thinking about that apology in the car. Was it really all that dumb, after all?
It got me thinking about something.
I’ve been in a bit of a bad place emotionally lately. Something happened a few months ago that I can’t seem to shake. I acted in a way that was not quite myself, and I ended up hurting a few people in the process. And now that it has all blown after and all is forgiven and life has moved on, another emotion has kicked in.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever felt like this before. I mean, I’m a redhead so obviously I know what anger feels like. Duh. It’s my favorite emotion. But at myself?
Now that’s new.
Now I’m no stranger to being an idiot. This isn’t the first time I’ve done something stupid. Stupid is my middle name.
I sometimes think about that 17-year-old version of me who was diagnosed with cancer. That girl who went through chemo and radiation, who spent half of her senior year in the hospital, who went to her high school prom bald as a baby – now that girl? That girl was stupid. Everyone around her talked about how “strong” she was, and how tough she was being. But she never understood what they meant. She was just doing what she was told. She was, quite frankly, too dumb to be scared. She wasn’t old enough yet – mature enough yet – to know what it all meant. The 40-year-old version of me now who looks back on that kid just shakes her head and smiles. I now know what a serious situation that was – and what could have happened. But I didn’t then. I didn’t know any better.
I was stupid.
And sometimes I feel like not much has changed in the last 23 years.
Sometimes 40-year-old me is still too immature to recognize the situations that she finds herself in – to realize the full weight of what could happen if she makes the wrong choice.
And that’s what I did a few months ago. I made the wrong choice.
I messed up. I hurt some people – especially one in particular. But it seems like those people that I hurt have forgiven me. They were surprised, but that’s what humans do – surprise one another. No, they didn’t really expect that kind of behavior from me and, yet, they still love me. Life goes on.
But why does it not just “go on” for me?
For me, somehow, life has seemed to come to a standstill in some ways. It’s not ‘going on’ at all. And, why the heck not? Everyone else has moved on. Why not me? What am I waiting for?
Is it, perhaps, that I haven’t quite given out all the apologies I need to give? Maybe there’s someone left?
Sigh. Maybe me.
Well. Okay then. Let’s do this. Here goes.
Melissa, I’m sorry. I’m sorry you didn’t know any better. I’m sorry you weren’t mature enough to recognize the seriousness of the situation you were in. I’m sorry that you carelessly took your life for granted – much like that 17-year-old did once upon a time. I’m sorry you weren’t thinking straight. I’m sorry you screwed up.
But, honey, now you know.
Now you know.
Now you have lived with the consequences of your choices. Now you have seen the hurt on the faces of the people you love. You’ve seen the hurt in your own face staring back at you from the mirror. You’ve learned. You’ve suffered. You’ve cried.
And now, sweet girl…you’re done with that.
Let. It. Go.
I’m truly sorry.
I’m sorry I let you down. I’m sorry I allowed you to make such a big mistake. But it’s okay now. It’s okay. Let’s move on from this. What do you say?
Well. Okay then. That’s done.
And, what now?
Okay. Maybe apologizing to yourself isn’t quite so dumb after all.
Let’s move forward.
“Do the best you can until you know better. And when you know better, do better.”
– Maya Angelou