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 Post subject: An apology, 20 years late.
PostPosted: Sat Dec 05, 2009 4:24 pm 
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I went to an all-girls, private, Catholic high school and one of my best friends during those four years was K. She and I were friends back then and I saw that she was Friends with one of our mutual classmastes on Facebook so I sent a Friend Request. Two or three different times. Each time, she must have removed the request because the option to send a Friend Request kept becoming available to me. I couldn't figure out why she kept doing that - I mean, we had some great times in high school.

I was kind of chuckling to myself, thinking: "K, what's the problem here? Surely you can't still be holding a grudge that I didn't really care for your boyfriend at the time (who she has apparently been married to for quite some time), can you?! That seems a little over-the-top. C'mon, let it go - let's be friends again already!"

Then I remembered, I wrote her a terribly harsh letter telling her all sorts of mean, nasty things, culminating with "I am through with you forever" about a year or two after we graduated high school.l (Can you say "black-and-white thinking"?!)

So rather than chuckling at her stubborn refusal to accept my Friend Requests, I felt horrible. She obviously remembered my awful words over the years and was rightfully holding them against me. I couldn't blame her for that, once I remembered what I did to her. I was awful, horrid, terrible, atrocious, horrible - every bad description you can think of. I want to say the letter was (hand-written) about 10 pages long, telling her every little thing that I thought was wrong with her. I was truly despicable.

I sent her a message saying:

Quote:
It took me a while to remember that letter I wrote to you years ago. I get it now and I want to apologize for all the things I said in that letter. I don't remember now what I said in the letter but I do remember that it was quite long and pretty harsh.

If it makes any difference, I was crazy back then. Really and truly. I had borderline personality disorder (BPD) and I was definitely in full-blown "black-and-white-thinking" mode when I said those things to you in that letter. I couldn't accept or make sense of one tiny piece of who you were and in my crazy brain at the time, if one part was "wrong" then the whole thing was wrong. I wrote you off because of that. I "threw the baby out with the bathwater" in a sense.

I can't take the words back and I can't undo the last twenty years since I put those words to paper. I can only tell you that I'm not that person anymore and I'm very ashamed of my behavior back then. I have learned a tremendous amount since those days and I've actually grown up. I can see the grey in the world now and accept people for exactly who they are.

So I don't know if my sincere apology makes any difference to you after twenty years - I just thought I needed to apologize to you regardless. I was completely out of line and everything I said was totally out of line.

I do remember the good times we had during our high school years and I hope that at some level you're able to remember those times too.

Anyway, it's nice to see that you're still with G (assuming that the last name is an indication) after all these years. You obviously knew more about love at that age than I did. It took me ten years to catch up to your level of wisdom and insight.

I hope you're happy and doing well.

I don't feel any better about how awful I was back then because that can't be undone. I don't feel proud of myself for apologizing - I'm not preening that I was "a big person for offering the apology." It needed to be done. I was wrong, I needed to apologize. It has taken me twenty years to give her the apology she deserved two decades ago. I know my apology doesn't wipe the last twenty years clean and she may never forgive me. I can't control that aspect of this.

I am glad, though, that I was able to remember my misdeeds and take responsibility for my actions. I am glad that I have matured enough to offer the apology. Regardless of the outcome, I am glad that I have come as far as I have over the last twenty years (really only over the last ten years, which was when my recovery journey started.)

I thought I would share because I vaguely recall someone recently posted about shame and/or embarassment over past actions. I feel those things too over this 20 yr old issue with K but I've accepted them. I will always feel shame about how I treated her. That shame, though, is now being offset by my positive feelings about accepting responsibility for my actions, having matured and offering the heart-felt apology. The past is the past, it cannot be undone or even changed. I can only add to history with offsetting actions and hope for the best.

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 Post subject: Re: An apology, 20 years late.
PostPosted: Sat Dec 05, 2009 6:18 pm 
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Wow, Ash. That was incredibly brave of you. You put yourself out there in order to do the right thing. I know how hard that can be for me. Thank you for sharing this.

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 Post subject: Re: An apology, 20 years late.
PostPosted: Sun Dec 06, 2009 9:47 am 
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Well done!

I'm sure the remembering of that letter was painful. I got together with a couple of my old grade-school classmates when I was up north last year, and one of them brought yearbooks she'd saved from back in 8th grade or whenever, and practically the first thing she did is show me where I'd written a stupid limerick in her book that was kind of nasty. I have no recollection of doing that, or why I might have felt like being nasty to her (we weren't BFFs but I didn't dislike her at all for any reason that I know), but I felt really badly about it, and I kept apologizing all through lunch. I'm still not sure she's forgiven me after all this time.

Who knows whether K will change her opinion of you after reading the message you sent her, but it's good that you did. I know I'd like to do the same to anyone else I find out that I was abusive to in my past.

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 Post subject: Re: An apology, 20 years late.
PostPosted: Sun Dec 06, 2009 3:08 pm 
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Ash,

I understand the desire to apologize; in fact I think I was obsessed with it awhile back. Thinking that I should apologize for all the lousy things I’ve done and thereby maybe finding a way to forgive myself. But I also remember a response to a post from you, in which you quoted something to the effect of never apologizing for being the person you were at a precise moment in your life. I guess I took this idea literally, maybe too black and white now that I think about it, and stopped apologizing.

Maybe the important part of apologizing in not expecting or even receiving someone forgiveness, as that is their stuff, but more about self acceptance of the reality of what you did and your need to be ok with it.

I didn’t mean to hijack you post, I think what you did required courage and I hope that you found the closure you needed. I just wanted to see how I could understand the positive nature of your experience and build a tool that could be useful to me.


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 Post subject: Re: An apology, 20 years late.
PostPosted: Sun Dec 06, 2009 5:13 pm 
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I shouldn't have said those things but I don't apologize for who I was back then. If I hadn't been that person twenty years ago, I wouldn't be THIS person today. The actions I took were wrong (spilling every thought I had about her - I should have kept them to myself, recognizing that my feelings were MY problem, not hers) but I don't apologize for having the thoughts.

Does that make sense, Anchorage?

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 Post subject: Re: An apology, 20 years late.
PostPosted: Sun Dec 06, 2009 5:37 pm 
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Ash,

It makes sense to me to say you're sorry for what you did but not for who you were, because that was beyond your control. Thanks for the clarification.


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 Post subject: Re: An apology, 20 years late.
PostPosted: Sun Dec 06, 2009 6:37 pm 
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Ash,

I think it was a kind, wonderfully worded note. I've written a couple myself and for the most part, haven't received any kind of a response...While I felt bad about what I had done, I also felt at peace with myself for learning to recognize that it was, in fact, abusive - And not perfectly acceptable as I had thought. It was very brave :thumbsup

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 Post subject: Re: An apology, 20 years late.
PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 6:10 am 
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I think that while it's great when an apology can lead to restoring a broken relationship, there's plenty of value just for you when you apologize, as Ash's experience shows so well. jim

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 Post subject: Re: An apology, 20 years late.
PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:06 am 
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Just as I had accepted that I would probably never hear back from her, K, I got a reply this morning basically telling me she didn't remember the letter and that she was happy I found someone to spend my life with. She closed the note with "Love always" so go figure.

Again, the apology was for me (to own up to my poor behaviour in the past), not for her (to forgive me my past actions) but it's kind of funny -- I was feeling like a complete turd and here she apparently doesn't even remember it! LOL

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