Sunday, December 30, 2012

Admitting your failings

I did something Saturday night that was hard for me. It was emotional and embarrassing, and I cried a little. But at the same time, I loved it.

You know that liberating feeling you get from being heart-wrenchingly honest? That's how I still feel. Sometimes we just need to sit down and be brutally honest with one another. We admit our faults, we apologize, and we know that things are going to be okay.

I've been struggling unknowingly with a grossly inappropriate communication faux-paus for most of my adult life. I was raised to feel like that was normal, and I actually came to the conclusion that it wasn't one night about a month ago. I was driving down the road, bawling, and called my sister. I remember the first words out of my mouth - "Do you feel like you were emotionally stunted because...?" She has a much better grasp on her emotions than I do, apparently, and was thankfully able to calm me down.

I have been unintentionally hurting someone for years because of said faux paus, and I finally sat down and apologized for it on Saturday. I explained where I was coming from, took responsibility, said I'm embarrassed, and I'm sad, and I'm sorry.

And things were fine. The world didn't end. I wasn't wrapped up in a hug (because I really didn't deserve one). I wasn't struck by lightning. But I had peace.

For years and years and years, getting an apology from me was like pulling teeth. I thought apologizing meant admitting you're wrong, and I am never wrong. I'd put up a good fight before I would apologize. But I've done it a lot more lately, and I kinda like it.

When I was in Prague, staying at a hostel, the little kitchen area had only a small fridge. I had gotten a few cartons of yogurt for breakfast, and was keeping them in there. But the hotplate in the kitchen happened to be situated on or very near the top of this itty bitty fridge. There were two boys in there making something on the stove, and I said "Excuse me; sorry" when I needed to get into the fridge. And then again later, to get into the fridge again. One of them said something silly about how I apologized too much, and that it was unnecessary.

But I disagree. I'm sorry for inconveniencing people. I'm sorry I've hurt others' feelings. I'm sorry I haven't been who I think I should be, and sometimes I'm sorry I haven't lived up to the expectations of others.

Most of all, I'm sorry I haven't apologized more. I'm sorry I have let my pride get in my own way. I'm sorry I've used apologies as weapons or incentives, or done anything other than offer them when they were needed.

So, as one of the ways I am inviting love into my life in the coming year, I will apologize more often. It's liberating. And getting over my pride doesn't make things worse. It makes them okay. Sometimes even better. It brings me peace.

And if there's one thing I need a shitload more of, it's peace.


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