Tipping The Balance

She said, “I don’t want to be your friend anymore.”
It was second grade and I can still see her face, I can still feel the warmth spreading across my abdomen, running up my arms, pulsating in my temples. It started out feeling warm but then quickly became icy cold, like her eyes as she looked away from me, so as not to expose herself to my tears.
She had made up her mind, plus, even at that young age I was aware enough to understand that attempting to plead one’s case in this type of situation would only lead to humiliation. Then she might get “caught” having intentionally hurt another, and in the environment in which we were housed, a small Catholic school, she would surely be reprimanded. Then we would have to confront each other in front of others, do the obligatory handshake and nod our innocent heads that we would be lifelong friends, Sister. It was just a misunderstanding…
Then I would be ostracized for not having been able to take it like a man. You don’t get someone “into trouble” because they no longer want you in their circle; you say okay and you go home and cry. I knew the drill.
Later, in fourth grade I would do the exact same thing to someone else. I just told her outright, as it had been told to me. I know I hurt her, and I still have trouble living with myself at the thought of it, of the pain that I knowingly inflicted. It haunts me. I friended her on Facebook once during my short unsuccessful tenure there, but I never made an overture of any kind. I wish I had.
When you hurt someone, and you know that you have hurt them deeply, there is really only one thing to be done, but very few, and when I say very few, I mean—hardly anyone—does it. It’s called, making things right.
I have a sibling in AA who as part of his journey tried to reach out to me to apologize for having inflicted unimaginable pain on me, but sadly he came up woefully short. He could not bring himself to say “I’m sorry.” He pitifully danced around it. I still wonder if they gave him a pass for that one. Well, it seems you have completed eleven of the twelve steps, I guess that’s good enough…
I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about…stuff…like… this.  It’s called depression, or perhaps genius. Okay, I’m going with genius because it just sounds better, and gives me a way to justify my obsession with the “making things right” scenario upon which I am about to expound.
I believe there is a balance in nature, in the universe, in what we haplessly refer to as our daily lives. And I believe wholeheartedly that that balance is fragile, and must be maintained if we are to survive as a species.
I am quite serious.
When you hurt someone you weaken them, you chip away at their self-confidence, their self-esteem, and their will to live often. Conversely, if you apologize, attempt to make things right, you can help them to heal.
Their healing is your healing.
You cannot undo the hurt, but you can mitigate it, set the groundwork for the transition that must be made from “wounded” to “ rehabilitated” to “healed.”
“I’m sorry” is all it takes, but even uttering those words for some is impossible.
But oh my god! Imagine if we could all be healed, what an amazing place this world would be.
There is a balance and it is tipped so far in favor of pain and hurt. You can see it everywhere you look. We need to get the balance back. We need to get the balance back in favor of love. We need to look within and say, “What can I do to make things right in my world?”
It all starts with “I’m sorry.”
Quintesse Quintesse
51-55, F
18 Responses Feb 1, 2013

Oh man, thank you for sharing that story bluemoon.<br />
I have never turned my back on a heartfelt apology and I never will. I know how hard it can be for some people and I know the healing power of it all when people come together in this way.<br />
I am an apologizer, often apologizing for things I did not do in an effort to move things along in a relationship. I think the goal is to do it often, get used to doing it and then sort of "pay it forward" by showing other people the benefits of how good you feel after. <br />
Thank YOU for reading and for commenting. This is good. I think talking about this stuff is good.

Soulful One.
By forgetting I don't really mean that you can somehow erase it all from your memory--I know that's impossible. But I think you have to step back and not let the remembering trigger feelings of anger and bitterness without end. I think you have to acknowledge that something happened and then try and figure out a way to forget the negative emotions associated with it.
I HATED the people who hurt me. I fantisized about retribution. But then I let go of it, knowing that it would kill me. Some people act on those feelings. I knew I had to forget them. I was very sad for a lot of years, and then, I slowly healed. It is the only way, I think. Of course I cannot forget, but I cannot let the remembering feel like it is all happening all over again, re-living it. That is what I mean by forgetting.
This is REALLY hard stuff, to talk about and to resolve. But I do think talking is constructive. Thank you for talking to me about this.

One problem Happy--we are as humans inherently fallible and we hurt each other either incidentally, inadvertently and even indirectly just because we interact and **** happens--every day, --no matter how kind we think we are being.
I guess I think that once you are made aware of it you should just try your best to right the wrong any way you can, so that one wounded soul will then be able to (hopefully) rebound and go on to heal another wounded soul...
It's the best I could come up with in any case. I am just trying to heal an irreparably broken heart, so I am, admittedly grasping over here.
I thank you for reading this whole thing and for your thoughtful comment. I for one, would MUCH prefer to have not been hurt in the first place. That is an ideal that as humans I am not sure we can achieve--but like you--I am hopeful. I am always hopeful. We share that. Thank you again.

That's it!!!!!

I am going to become a hermit. Screw interacting..............


Tell me about it. My new nickname is "recluse."

Love to you, milady.

I agree that a sincere apology can make a difference but I'm having trouble with the forgetting part. Maybe because I'm still in my situation and there are behaviors that remind me of others? Maybe I just don't want him to get off that easy? I'm not sure why I can't forget. Maybe because so much of how I am and who I am today is from him and his abuse? I can recognize when I'm in that mode of feeling all that he says I am, and I can tell myself not to listen but the conflict I have, the struggle to overcome the hurtful words and acts in itself is defeating at times. I think its rare to forget. Its funny you referred to the balance. I had not read it and when I was thinking about what you wrote ahead of it I pictured a balance. It takes so much work to level that balance, but what about tipping it to the good? Its even more difficult.

PS--for the record though, this same I'm sorry cannot make Apartheid, or The Holocaust or Slavery magically non existent, atrocities that have scarred generations/ millions of people, but when governments have acknowledged wrongdoing, offered reparations, it has historically always been met with a positive response. The past cannot be changed with an apology, but an apology can have the power to change the future, stop the cycle of bitterness and hate, one person at a time. This I believe.

Well Miss Q, I am part
Khoi without having seen any docs.

As first nation South African, my people still have nothing and are excluded

love and peace

Oh. Will it help if I say I'm sorry? I don't know what else to say.

Love to you, sweet lady

Papri, I really think that making things right oftentimes starts with a genuine apology. I've seen one apology have an exponential effect on pain, relieving it from one person to another, like dominoes in reverse, as one person after the next gets up. Healing is nowhere near instantaneous but well, I've seen the power of I'm sorry and I am a believer.

Thanks Dreamgirl.
Jampolski says "love is letting go of fear." I have a hard time with fear, I am wracked with anxiety. But I am good at forgiving. I know the healing power of forgiveness--true forgiveness (not the kind where you don't forget...) because I know that letting go of the anger and the bitterness is where it all starts, the moving on.

None of this is easy, but talking about it, for me anyway, reinforces it in my life, makes me take stock of where I am, and what state my "to do " list is in. I have a little more work to do.

I am one who will not forget.

To forget is to be blindsided by the same build-up to the last deadly accident........ AGAIN. That, for me, borders on stupid.

We had a society that was based on racism which was institutionalised and on the statute. I shall never give the country back to them or there offspring......... there is danger that they have learned things from exposure.

love and peace

I will not judge, but from what I am hearing here it sounds like for some people there are degrees of forgiveness. There are "crimes" and "sins" that fall into the "unforgivable" category. For those an "I'm sorry" will not facilitate healing.
Everybody grieves and heals (or not) in their own way. Once you set the threshold at "Unforgivable" though, I believe that healing is impossible.
I should stress therefore that "I'm sorry" helps me. But not everyone is me.

I believe forgiveness is a something one can do without the apology of another Hard work that will release you from the bitter damage that has been done in your soul ... but there have been a couple of instances in which I had have to say "May God forgive you because it is not within my power to do so..." It may sound like a cop out but believe me you would understand if I told you the rest of the story. It is one thing to forgive what has been done unto you and another to forgive what has been done unto your child.

I had an infant in my care. I got her at 2 months old. She was addicted to heroin and had a cleft palate. Her head was misshapen, and she was deaf. I cared for her, took her through two surgeries, and weekly doctor’s visits and therapy. I did this for 13 months. We bonded. I believed she was the baby I was unable to conceive. We were told that she was ours. We named her. We were two weeks away from finalizing her adoption.

July 29, 2002 representatives from the state came unannounced to our door and took her from us. They had to take her from my arms as I collapsed onto the floor in disbelief and shock. We never saw her again.
I know what it is like to lose a child. There were people responsible for the misunderstanding that led to the destruction of my family, my other daughter. No amount of “I’m sorry” from them will give me my family back, “I’m sorry” will not give me back the life I think I should have had.

Still, I’d forgive them if they’d give me the chance, if they’d offer an apology. Because I know that that is the only way to heal yourself, to heal your life.
And God knows I want to heal myself. So, I’ve forgiven them in absentia. It’s not the same, but it’s the best I can do under the circumstances.

To forgive is easy. To forget would be insane.

I would not trust him with a 10cent coin, let alone a precious life, including my own.

Trust is another issue entirely.

On the 10 May 2003, my one son defied my instruction, stole the car and, in his sick mind, believing that the younger would be his excuse, loaded his fourteen year old brother. They were involved in a motor accident and Matt died instantly. <br />
<br />
No amount of sorry will return him. <br />
<br />
love and peace<br />
<br />

b~ Sorry about the story mix-up.
I know what you are saying. There are certain types of hurt that no apology can ever even attempt to make right. I guess what I am suggesting is that if a sincere one of proffered, that it maybe...someday? can help with the healing in a small way? I just hate the idea of suffering and never being able to come up with a way in this lifetime to alleviate it even a little bit. I always have to believe that there is a way, that if the offender is sorry...well, it is something, when you are grasping at straws, trying to get through your day, that it would be ...something.
That may not be true for all people in all instances, but it would help me. And imagining that I will never get "I'm sorry" from the people who have hurt me makes me very, very sad--sadder than I need to be. Sadder than I should be.
I like to have hope.
I have to believe in humanity, in people on some level wanting to do the right thing--that we all have the capability. But who knows. I like to talk myself into things. I like to rationalize things. I like to try to come up with solutions for fixing the world's ills.
It's how I cope.
Thanks for your comment. I know pain when I see it. For what it's worth, I am sorry for your suffering.

I thank you for what you wrote.
I've done the amputating. I causes me to feel a little unsteady at times, in my life, like the missing parts leave me feeling somewhat unwhole. But I know that it's necessary in order to survive emotionally. I've done it.
And the scars have healed for the most part, but the point is, even with having done all of that, and after more than a decade of rehab, I'd still entertain a sincere apology. I don't feel that it's ever too late for that, as I have a very forgiving nature.
And the apology and the possibly ensuing forgiveness doesn't mean that everything is better, it just means that maybe a piece of your soul that has been missing, gets returned to you. You can never be the same, but I feel like an apology is a type of giving back, sort of like, "here, here is what I took from you. It is not in the same condition that it was in when I stole it, but it's the best I can do." I do believe that that is better than nothing because at least it is an acknowledgement of your pain, of your suffering. Sometimes that is as good as it gets.
I think it's better than nothing (if it is sincere) but I know that not everyone agrees with me, and I also think that because you never know what kind of reaction you will get that most people hesitate to even offer the apology in the first place. But if you injure someone, I believe that taking that chance is part of what it means to grow and mature emotionally. It means you have finally learned to take responsibility for your actions. That is what I mean by both people healing.
Of course if the offender in question does not have any empathy or a conscience, then the whole thing is an exercise in futility. It only works if it's all real.
Don't feel guilty about the surgery though. We all do what we need to do to survive. Thanks for talking with me about this.

bcj~this is your comment moved from the story in "I Believe in the Power of I'm Sorry." I deleted that story (this exact one) from over there because I had it in both places and decided that two threads was stupid... (didn't quite think that through). But I wanted to save your comment (I hope you don't mind) because you bring up a great point, one I need to think about and respond to

"Miss Q

This is a brilliant idea and I have taught it to my boys. Unfortunately, it does not always work.

When that first lioness grabs the zebra by the throat and brings it down, strangling it and when the pack of her sisters come in to assist and eat the flesh off the bones.

When the hyena's arrive to take bites out of the remains or the vultures come in to clean of the absolute last flesh off those bones,


This is Humpty Dumpty - he was pushed, in the first instance and he cannot be fixed, in the second.

Really - some hurt is simply too deep.......


That is fine, Miss Q

I shall wait with bated breath

Thanks Sciguy. "I'm sorry" has the ability to heal the world if you ask me.
But I would settle for being able to get through that car ride home without having to pull over because I can no longer see through my tears. Attempting to heal without it is really hard.
And unlike some people I try not to rate others on the forgiveness scale according to the level of remorse shown. That can get tricky. I just take what I can get. But I have not been blessed to know many who can manage even a feeble attempt.
It absolutely affects the future. I agree. Thank you.

Some maintain that an apology from an offender is insufficient. They believe that anyone can say the words, but how are they going to prove it? For others, however, a simple "I'm sorry" is all that is needed.

As you've stated though, some can't even bring themselves to do that. They will include excuses and explanations, but never actually express any remorse. Whether it is a simple matter of pride or something else, I'm not sure. Billy Joel did sum it up nicely though when he said, "Sorry seems to be the hardest word."

What good will an apology do for the victim?

"Sorry" can not change the past, but can change the future.” ~ Sladjana Savić

I am wounded, sprawled out on the ground, arm extended, here...take this message to the front line. Someone...save me.
Thank you Funky one.

Beautiful and moving