“I am sorry” or “I apologize” or “I am sorry for hurting you”… How often do we use these words? And are they received in the manner with which it was said? When do we say these words? Right after we make a mistake? Or after we realize that we have wronged someone? Do we wait for a while before apologizing? Or do we immediately say sorry? What happens if we wait or what if we don’t wait? So many questions regarding a simple apology… The reason I bring this up, is recently I made a long overdue apology. Well, I think it was overdue anyway.
We were classmates for more than 10 years, before we became good friends and coincidently landed in the same city while we started our careers back in 2006.Since we knew each other for such a long time, it was inevitable that we became roommates too and that brought us closer. She and I were from different backgrounds, different castes, different religions…but we did become good friends. And then, as it usually happens when you live in close proximity with someone, misunderstandings inevitably occur. I do not remember exactly, what went wrong or at what point everything fell apart. I am still not sure if the whole thing was my fault to begin with, but I do remember telling her that I am sorry and would like to put everything behind us and start again. I guess we were both too close to the hurt and misunderstandings that the apologies and the effort to make things better did not help. We have lost touch after that, moved to different places and got on with our lives. Although I tried to contact her several times through Facebook, I was never able to. I heard that she lost touch with most of our classmates over the years and no one knew where she was or what she was up to and life moved on. But I always had this small thought, that someday I would try and apologize again and mend fences.
Recently, through another classmate of mine, I got to know by chance that she is alive and well and had gotten married recently. So I wished her well through a message on FB. I knew later that though she had seen the message, there was no response. So it led me to believe, that perhaps she was still angry or holding a grudge or upset and therefore I apologized again. There was still no response, even though she had seen my apology. When I mentioned this to my husband, he said that it was all my fault for reminding her of the past and that there was no need for me to say sorry. I could have just wished her and left it at that…Why did I have to apologize for something that happened so many years ago? What good was that going to do? My motives in apologizing were only to try and mend fences and to rekindle our friendship if that was possible. I also wanted to be free of any guilt I might have had in causing the rift. Was this selfish of me? Was I being self-centered when I expect the other person to accept my apology, thereby absolving me? Am I wrong?
So I ask again… Is there a time limit for an apology? If a year or two has gone by, does that mean it’s too late to apologize? It takes a lot of character to admit when you are wrong and apologize, does it not? So when do we say sorry? And what happens when the other person does not care for your apology? Do we keep trying? How long should we try and apologize or try and mend fences, before giving up. And if there are people, who no matter what we do, or how many times we apologize, simply won’t accept it, and then what do we do? Do we just let it go? So is our conscience clear because we tried our best to fix things, with the best of intentions, but it was not received in the manner with which it was presented? SO does this mean that the other person is now at fault for not forgiving the apologizer? If there indeed is a time limit for apology, what should it be? 1 year? 2 years? 5 years? 10years? What happens after that?
I guess I am baffled at the thought of not forgiving someone or not accepting someone’s apology. Why would you not want to forgive? Why would you not want to try and mend fences? The world is such a harsh place and you need all the friends you can get. Why would you throw away years of friendship because of a fight? I mean, I have had people hurt me so many times and yes it does feel very, very bad at the time. But when someone sincerely apologizes, I feel so glad and accept their apology whole heartedly. Although the relationship never goes back to being the same, in many ways it becomes better. In some cases the relationship heals enough to be ok… but ultimately neither them nor myself, have any ill-feeling towards one another…Isn’t that a marvelous thing?
Apologize; say sorry, mend fences… You will not be here forever. In the end, the only things that matter is not how much money you have, or what your current role is…. The only things that truly matter are how much you have loved; how much you have helped and how much you forgave.