Hello Old Friend, long time no see, or talk, or maybe we just saw each other last night but I didn’t say what I needed to say. So here it is. I am sorry for being a bad friend.
- I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to be there when you needed me.
- I’m sorry that I didn’t reach out when your husband died.
- I’m sorry that I couldn’t bring myself to say what I felt that night.
- I’m sorry that I didn’t do more when your father passed.
- I’m sorry that I wasn’t emotionally aware enough to realize that you were struggling.
- I’m sorry that I didn’t reach out when your mom got sick.
- I’m sorry that I didn’t do more than text you when I heard about the cancer.
- I’m sorry that I haven’t done more to help answer your questions and ease your anxiety.
- I’m sorry that you lost the baby.
- I’m sorry that I forgot to call you when I heard that he passed away, I meant to but I just kept forgetting.
- I’m sorry that I didn’t do more when you got hurt, or when he hurt you.
- I’m sorry that I didn’t congratulate you on your new job, I brag to people about you, but I never said it.
- I’m sorry that I blamed you for not reaching out to me.
- I’m sorry that I complained about not sleeping much when you have a new baby, I should know better.
- I’m sorry that I couldn’t make it to that event, or if I did go that I was kind of a buzzkill.
- I’m sorry that I didn’t send you that thing I wanted to buy you.
- I’m sorry that I wasn’t there for you when she left you.
- I’m sorry for the words that I used when we were young, I didn’t realize how hurtful they would be.
- I’m sorry that I didn’t call you when I was in town.
- I’m sorry that I didn’t watch, or read, or pay attention to that thing you worked hard on.
- I’m sorry that I haven’t followed through on my promises.
- I’m sorry that I keep saying that we will get together and then bailing on you.
- I’m sorry that I haven’t been myself, or that I have been myself all along and have just been misrepresenting.
- I’m sorry I couldn’t do more.
- I’m sorry.
And now I am sorry for apologizing, but not directly to you, because there are a lot of you out there who I need to apologize to. This is kind of a public service announcement, or a proclamation from stage, or a billboard that I have been thinking about for a long time.
You know how I work, I think of something and it bounces around my head for forever. I eventually either lose the train of thought and move on to the next thing, or else it burns a hole in my soul and eat’s away at my sleep until I can’t help but do something about it. I have been meaning to say sorry for days/weeks/months/years, but I never got around to it, and trust me I have lost a lot of sleep over it. But maybe this will be the start.
I know that I shouldn’t feel guilty, but I can’t help it. White guilt. Irish guilt. Catholic guilt. Middle class guilt. Survivor’s guilt. It’s like a perfect storm of guilt and I can only work on addressing the root cause. Sometimes facing the things that cause guilt all at once is the best idea. I heard a concept a few years ago of an “Email Debt Forgiveness Day” where you can send a reply to all the emails that you have been meaning to send without worrying about how old they are. You know the ones that they mean, the easy replies or hard conversations that you have been putting off for a while and every day they get harder and harder to send. Consider this my “Apology Debt Forgiveness Day.”
I don’t need your forgiveness, in some cases I don’t deserve it, in other cases it is too late to mend that bridge. Hell you probably don’t even register the fact that I wasn’t there for you, but I still feel guilty. Your forgiveness won’t absolve me of guilt for not doing more sooner, but now we can push past and try to get to on to the healing. Maybe by putting this out to the world next time I think of you I can reach out without having to weigh the emotional debt of our relationship.
Years ago I was apologizing to someone (maybe it was you) for not being there in his time of need. He drunkenly put his hand on my shoulder and looked into my eyes in the way only an old friend can and said “No matter what happens, I know that when you are with me, you are WITH me.” It was one of the greatest compliment that I have ever gotten. No matter the years that pass between meetings I will try to show up when we are together. I may not be good at communicating, and I may not get better at it, but hopefully this is a step in the right direction. I hope that I can be a better friend.
I’m sorry, I love you.