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Dear former friend,
I need you to know that the word sorry doesn’t mean anything to me. I need you to know that it is a pointless word that I feel like people throw around when they don’t want to be accountable for the things they’ve said and done. I feel like when most people say “Sorry.” what they are really saying is “Please just pretend I didn’t do that, so that I don’t have to face it or deal with the implications of it.” I feel like when most people say “Sorry.” they are doing it in a kind of self righteous I’ve-done-nothing-wrong-but-since-you’re-all-upset-I’ll-say-this-magic-word-to-make-you-stop-talking sort of way.
So I guess, when you said your “sorry” was not good enough for me, you were spot on. It fell way short of the mark. You didn’t know why I was upset. You didn’t have any idea how you had affected me. You were just hoping that, before I even really had a chance to react to some really hurtful things you said, you could just stop me from reacting at all. That is not the way it works.
In a real friendship, one that means something, people seek to understand each other. When one finds out that they’ve hurt another (and it is almost never on purpose; I don’t think it was in this case), they seek to understand. They hear the other person out. They recognize the hurt they’ve caused. They make repairs. They don’t justify. They don’t continue to defend the things they said, and then go on to say more hurtful things. They don’t try to come up with ways that the person they’ve offended is actually the villain.
An example of that would be quite sometime ago, when I said something in a facebook status that you thought was about you, and you were hurt. You wrote me a message, explaining your hurt and why I shouldn’t have said what I did. I told you I understood your reaction. I told you that my status wasn’t about you, but understood how you perceived it might be. I explained what the status was about. I validated how you felt about it. That, my former friend, is what a real apology looks like. I did not get defensive that you’d personalized something that had nothing to do with you. I could have told you that I have every right to post what ever I want in my facebook statuses. I could have pointed out that, even though you were accusing me of censoring you, that is exactly what you were doing to me. But I didn’t. It didn’t matter to me, I was more concerned that I’d inadvertently hurt your feelings.
I feel like you never really cared to understand why I was hurt. I think you were just more content to pretend that you hadn’t actually said anything wrong, and I that I just reacted poorly to it. You kept driving home your own perception of the situation, and totally ignored mine. Over and over again. I kept trying to explain why I saw things the way I did. Instead of trying to understand me, it was just easier for you to find reasons why you could be upset with me. Because really, if you could find reasons why I was in the wrong, then you wouldn’t have to admit that you were. When you told me you needed time to cool off, I went away trying to understand you. I went away trying to figure out why you’d said some of the things you did, and what you could’ve really meant by it. I came back to the conversation with the hope that we could discuss those things, and that I could explain why I had the perceptions that I did. And I thought you’d be ready to hear me, and that I would be ready to hear you. But, that is when I realized that you’d used the time to “cool off” only to find more reasons to be upset with me. To figure out why you should be the one hurting and not me. And you came back ready to justify that more than anything else. That is not what a real apology looks like. It is not what a real friendship looks like.
I wish you all the best. I hope that you get everything you want in life. (For a lot of reasons, but selfishly I also hope that when you do get the things you want, you will better understand what it really did to my heart when you attacked my Things.) I also hope that you can take away some kind of lesson from this. And that you can handle your relationships better in the future. For as humans, hurting each other is just something that sometimes happens. It it all about how you handle it after it happens that matters. I fear for you, that if you keep being this self absorbed in the face of hurting someone else, I won’t be the only friend you lose.
I’m so sad to see years of friendship—a friendship I cherished—lost over this. I’m so frustrated that it has turned out this way. And I’m so angry that I couldn’t do anything to make you see me. I just really wish this had all worked out differently.
You’ve accused me of saying negative things on my blog about you. I never have before and don’t know where that accusation came from, but this post is probably gonna upset you. But the thing is, I really needed you to hear me. And I tried and tried to get you to hear me, but you won’t. You refused. And so, even though I know you’ll be upset that I’ve blogged this (if you ever even read it)… I just need someone else, anyone else, to hear me instead.
It all comes down to this. A real, sincere apology is not just a word. It is so, so much more than that.