Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Healing An Old Wound

Maybe I'll just share a few daily experiences as I write my book.

Eldest son Derek helps me look for the key to something I need to unlock

I once heard a guy talk in church about how he had no ill feelings toward any other person. What an outstanding achievement! This guy was involved in many enterprises and relationships and yet he harbored no ill will.

Today, I must admit I have struggled with thoughts of a few people who, from my perspective, have done me wrong. I could go on and on about the wrongs done but I will save that for another day.

I'll just mention one instance that is fresh on my mind.

Somewhere around 15 years ago I got hung up on. A good friend that I had known since childhood cut off communication with me. I made many efforts to hook back up but it didn't happen. The more time went by, the more bugged I got. I had done nothing to sour the relationship but for reasons still not clear to me, my buddy was gone. I contacted his relatives but they told me to stay away.

The detective that I am, I started trying to pin reasons for this suddenly dysfunctional relationship. After a few years rolled by, I began assigning sinister motives to his silence. I needed to find answers to this mystery and with my active imagination, I soon had his life and actions toward me diagrammed out and etched in the black marble chalkboards of my mind.

It has not been healthy for me. I've spent an inordinate amount of time stewing and rolling this situation back and forth.

Finally, after some 15 years, I decided to move past the timid attempts at communicating that I had heretofore attempted. I wrote him a blistering email and told him just what my assumptions, feelings and conclusions were. I really let him have it!

The next day, as expected, I didn't hear back from him. I decided I had been a little harsh on the guy so I backed off a little bit and sent him an apology complete with further justification of my position. In hindsight, it really wasn't an apology because I was just expanding in a nicer way concerning my previous thoughts.

Last Saturday, I decided I had been a little too harsh so I wrote a real apology to him, at least in my way of thinking. I called up one of my brothers just to get some reinforcement on my take of the situation. I read him my letter figuring he would be understanding and maybe even congratulate me on the fine job I had done on saying I'm sorry.

I was surprised at his response. He said "I don't think I should tell you what I think."

I told him I wanted to hear. He offered several more refusals but after repeated promises to listen to his thoughts without bringing a grudge against him too, he let me have it.

"You should not send that letter. It is not a letter of apology. It is condescending and hurtful and will do absolutely no good. You should simply tell him it is your fault and that you are sorry for the previous messages you've sent him and ask for his forgiveness. Don't make it long but take 100% of the responsibility for the entire problem. Tell him you are truly sorry."

What kind of a brother is that? I started to argue but remembered my promise. We talked a while longer and by the time we hung up, I half-heatedly said I would carry out the task of his instructions.

I sat at my desk for a long time, thinking about the turn of events. Thinking back on previous experiences and realizing that I'm usually rong and this particular brother is usually wright, I softened and finally decided to go his way. However, I was absolutely positive that just as the last 15 years had been, I had already cooked my goose and there would never be a response back from the former friend.

Here is what I sent him...

Dear ---------

I know I told you my last letter would be my last. However, things have dramatically changed in my viewpoint and I must write this.

I am wrong. Completely wrong. This entire affair is none of my business. I was condescending, judgmental and completely out of turn. I humbly beg your forgiveness and promise to not bother you in the future. I apologize and am asking for your forgiveness.

I am impulsive, outspoken and suffer from the inability to make good judgments and decisions. I screwed up and am feeling deep pangs of regret. This matter will never be brought up or discussed by me again. Again, I ask for your forgiveness but do not expect you to respond.

I would appreciate a response from you simply letting me know that you have received it. I will not be offended if you don’t accept my apology. If I don’t receive a response, I will send you this letter via snail mail.


I got home from Church the next day and was absolutely shocked to see a long and kind letter from him. I didn't even read it. I walked away and blinked through the tears. What an absolutely shocking turn of events.

Perhaps more on our correspondence in a later post.

But what I'm wondering is, did I do the right thing?


    Phil and Holly said...

    Sounds like your good friend is a woman.. You didn't even know what your err was, and all it took was an apology accepting 100% guilt to somewhat smooth it over.. Whatever you do, don't let "herm" know that you still don't know what the transgression even was to begin with.. The desired goal was achieved therefore it was the right thing to do..

    Chelsea said...

    Yes you did the right thing. I want to know which brother is always wright?

    Todd and Christianne said...

    I'm glad you followed that advice. You absolutely did the right thing.

    Carylee said...

    Why would you doubt? You did the right thing and now you have your friend back, that was the goal right?

    Lisa said...

    I know I am often guilty of doing the same thing and being too prideful to say "I'm Sorry" and truly mean it. I read recently that when you say "I'm sorry, BUT"--that is a sign of pride. You definitely did the right thing. Now is the hard part--you have to completely let it go and not talk about it anymore.

    Lisa said...

    I'm wondering which brother it was, too.