The Unexpected Gift in an Apology that’s Gone Unrecognized
I once said, “Life is too short and too unpredictable, and childhood friendships are far too special to let go of without a fight to salvage one that’s been damaged.”
But what happens when you have done all you can but still come up short?
On September 19th, I realized that after more than four years of estrangement and silence between my childhood best friend and me, it was time to apologize.
As such, I buried my pride and picked up my phone to call her. Through many tears and an emotionally charged writing catharsis, and as I penned the first part of this story, making that call became a no-brainer.
An apology for my behavior that ultimately caused the current rift was long overdue.
To be perfectly honest, though, I was not even sure if my call would go through. I worried that in her upset and anger, she may have blocked my number.
But guess what? She didn’t, and the call did go through and straight to her voicemail.
When I heard her calm voice in the message—a voice that, more times in my life than I could count, had talked me off the ledge—I took a deep breath and began to speak.
“Hi,” I said, “it’s me. I’ve been thinking of you a lot lately and wanted to call you to sincerely apologize for my behavior the last time we spoke.”
I continued, my voice shaking with emotion, “I hope that you will accept my apology and consider hearing me out. I’ve been working really hard on myself the last few years, and I’d like to explain why I acted as I did, but if you choose not to hear me out, I understand, as well. I guess, I just basically wanted to tell you I love you and will always consider you one of my best of friends. I hope you will consider accepting my apology. Take care.”
As I hung up the phone, I boarded an emotional roller coaster, unprepared for the ride of my life. I climbed the hill of anxiety, and with each click of the chain as the coaster pulled us up the track, other questions entered my mind.
What if she doesn’t respond? Will she think I am stupid? Am I being ridiculous? Will she laugh at me? Did I sound sincere enough? And when I reached the pinnacle of the hill, I was hit with the biggest question—will she even believe me?
In my search for answers, I plummeted down the same hill into the depth of sadness and regret.
What have I done? Why does my mouth always get me into trouble? Words hurt, and I can’t take mine back. Now what?
Then I rationalized with myself by saying that she’s always loved me regardless, and with that thought, I began to ascend another hill back up to elation, anticipation, and false hope.
I couldn’t wait until she called back so I could explain myself and she would tell me she was glad that I had worked so hard. She would tell me that she accepted my apology and that she just wanted me to get better.
And with that daydream, I envisioned our conversations diverting to old memories and laughter, then making plans to get together.
However, I was getting ahead of myself and had reached the top, only to cascade down again and into the part of the coaster full of challenging twists and turns. You know, the ones where you are jerked from side to side of your cart, almost enduring rib fractures and whiplash? But for me, these were the twists and turns of my personal relationship with a little thing called patience, and I was seriously ready to disembark this damn ride.
You see, my best friend’s personality is the complete opposite of mine, which is probably why we gelled so well back then! She is not impulsive. She weighs every decision thoroughly. And based on my past behaviors, she probably wanted to wait me out to see if I recanted.
Why would she do that, you ask?
Well, I have a confession to make. A couple of years ago, I sent her a Happy Birthday text and told her that life was too short to be angry. Apparently so was my patience, and when she did not respond quickly, I childishly blocked her number again. (I told you I have been working on myself.)
I was faced with a serious challenge. I needed patience—something I still continue to work on improving daily. And having known my friend as well as I did, I knew I was going to have to be on my best game if I was going to see this through.
I also knew with one hundred percent certainty that I could not expect an immediate response, or I would be let down. (Psst. Did you see that? Growth!)
I knew that she would question my motives, weigh the pros and cons of resuming our friendship and God only knows what else, but in my newfound optimism and trust in the universe, I also believed she would give me a chance. So I waited.
I waited for a day. And then one more. And again, another.
I checked my phone to make sure I did not have her number blocked. I double-checked my social media accounts to make sure she could contact me that way as well.
I contemplated sending her my article but realized that in doing that, I would defeat my purpose in allowing her the choice in whether she wanted to hear me out or not.
I watched for texts and voicemails. I read my readers’ uplifting comments and well wishes. I prayed over and over each day, but sadly, it has been over a week, and the silence remains.
Now, that silence is wreaking havoc on my sanity, and I have been faced with a decision and an opportunity for further growth.
Should I continue to wait or let it go?
Over the past weekend, my emotions have gone from impatience to anger, from frustration to self-doubt, and back again. I even told my husband that maybe I should not have made the call, but in the end, I am grateful that I did.
I am glad that I poured my heart out on my best friend’s voicemail that Sunday morning. Do you know why?
First, I am glad I made that call because my behavior during our last phone call demanded one, and my best friend deserved to hear me saying the words I did. Whether she accepts it or not, she deserved to hear me say I was wrong and that I loved her. She deserved to know that in the end, she will always be considered one of my best friends because it is the truth.
We may not have spoken in over four years, but I still refer to her as my best friend in conversation and always will.
Our fallout does not have to diminish all the beautiful memories we have made together, and I will not allow it to.
Secondly, I have found that there is growth in accepting responsibility for our wrongdoings. It’s in those moments that we are forced to look at the situation with insight and acknowledge what we could have avoided or done better. It’s through the acknowledgment that we are able to see there is always room for improvement, hence growth!
There are a number of things I would have done differently, but the biggest one that I’d change is the amount of time I allowed to pass without any words spoken. I cannot undo this, but I can make certain that I will never repeat the mistake.
Third, by asking for one’s forgiveness, you not only make yourself vulnerable but also relieve yourself of anger and blame. As I left my voicemail message, with each word spoken, the weight lifted from me, and I felt as if I could breathe with a sense of pride and satisfaction, move through my day with ease, and begin to live in a state of newfound peace.
I was wrong, but without acknowledging that and by avoiding self-reflection, I was only able to project the anger and blame onto her. Seeking forgiveness forces you to see your own truth and humanity, and again, I am grateful for the lesson learned.
Finally, by way of her silence, I have been given the greatest gift of all—the power to love myself.
By acknowledging where I was wrong, looking at the situation insightfully, and taking ownership of my wrongdoings, not only did I ask for her forgiveness, I deepened my self-love.
Asking for her forgiveness resulted in my ability to finally feel safe enough in my being and empowered me to risk this newfound vulnerability.
To ask forgiveness is to also open yourself up to the possibility of rejection—something that’s never been easy for someone such as me. What a metamorphosis I’ve undergone in this past week!
And with that liberating realization and gift, I was finally able to unclip my seatbelt and get off this roller-coaster ride I have endured, knowing I did the best I could with sincerity and genuine love.
My best friend knows where I stand, and I am okay with whatever she chooses to do in the future. I am finally free to move on with my life. I will no longer remain stuck in anger.
How could I?
For it was through this one-sided interaction that my dear friend unknowingly taught me the most valuable lesson of all: an apology that’s gone unrecognized still has the power to yield prosperous results.