I have regrets, most of us over the age of 3 probably do.
Whether it’s for being unkind to a stranger in junior high, or lying to our parents about sneaking out of the house for a clandestine thrill in high school, or hurting a close friend with an unkind word as an adult, most of us will admit to pangs of guilt over painful slights we’ve thrust on others.
I don’t dwell on my meanness for long periods of time, but as I age I’m more aware there are people, dead and alive, who have suffered because of a careless comment or action on my part.
I’d like to wipe the blackboard of ‘dirty deeds’ clean; apologize, say I’m sorry, hear the harsh rebuttal of shame or hurt I caused. It may not ease the other person, but it may lessen my regret.
As I near my 77th birthday time is running out to rectify past transgressions. Either my life will end or the other person will disappear from sight. Some, no doubt, already have.
Clearly not every ugly incident can or will be resolved: some folks will be armed if they know it is me knocking on their door. Animosity can run deep and last a long time.
Then there are those to whom I think I owe a plea of forgiveness, but while on my virtual knee begging for a pardon, a look of bewilderment creeps to their face and they begin punching in the phone number of a local care facility knowing I have lost it.
“It must be her advanced age,” they conjecture.
They have no clue nor memory of any wrong doing, but they are anxious for me to move my prone position to another locale…quickly.
How to make amends, intended or not?
Several options come to mind:
- Give out your email address to everyone who might know or have known you. They can vent to their heart’s content and you can self-righteously delete them–with or without comment .
- Share your Facebook page to same group and let them air their bitterness for everyone to read, ruining any current relationships, and eliminating future job opportunities.
- Email or call the aggrieved party and offer to buy lunch in order to ease tension over a glass of iced tea (or a bottle of red wine if the insult was particularly egregious).
- Place an ad in the local paper apologizing to the population in general, hoping that will cover all the bases. And with the additional hope that the victim will know your apology is sincere and heart felt.
- Do the same with similar hoped for results in all publications that may touch a former acquaintance, i.e. alumni publications, past church affiliation bulletins, billboards near cemeteries with ‘sincere’ apologies to those who have vacated this earth.
- Or, write a column (like this one) assuring all within reading distance you are truly sorry for the hate and loathing you triggered in their lives.
Meanwhile, blame your parents for creating you, and explain they had no idea what a bad decision they were making…back in the day.