The Unexpected Comes In Threes

The last twelve hours or so have kind of sucked. I found out that a couple of people I supervise will be starting new jobs soon, two of the guys in my D&D group are moving away, and I received a reply to an apology that was… let’s say, “less than gracious.”

For the last couple of years, I’ve been working to atone for the mistakes I made several years ago before I grew up and learned how to treat people right. In every instance, this has been a healing and rewarding experience, and I have come to recommend it to others. The act of apologizing is cathartic, and since I have things I need to apologize for, I feel it is needed. Everyone has responded positively and relationships have been mended, some to an amazing degree.

There was one person I never heard back from, though, and it made me worry that she had never received my apology. Abbey, the girl who kicked this whole thing off, was the one I knew least how to reach. I had seen her [new] name in the newspaper a few years ago when she got married, so I was able to look her up and write her a letter, and I agonized for a year whether I should do so or not. In the end, I felt like I had to apologize; this goes beyond mending relationships and seems like a Christian issue to me. So I wrote her, and while the letter stated that no reply was needed, I had still expected something to at least say that she received it. No reply was forthcoming.

A year later, the guilt began to gnaw at me. What good is an apology if the person to whom you are apologizing never receives it? What was worse, when I sent the letter, I had a feeling that she might not receive it, which felt like a cowardly cop-out. I waited a few months, prayed with a fellow at church, and decided that day to send her a message on Facebook. This method seemed much more direct, and it made me feel like I had given an honest effort.

This morning (about two months later, I think), I received a threatening reply from her husband. Unexpected item number three.

I’ve got a lot of thoughts going through my head. “What if I was in AA, and this was that step where you need to contact people? Who responds with threats when you try to apologize?!” “I wonder if she/they are still Christian.” “Oh well.” I’ve not had someone respond this way, but I guess the response is understandable. I mean, I wouldn’t call it reasonable, but I can understand it.

And really, it does give me some closure. She probably (unless she never checks her messages and her husband intercepted it, which seems unlikely) knows that I apologized. She may not have received it in the spirit it was intended, but she read the words. And by having her husband reply, I get the closure I need. I don’t have to wonder anymore whether it was all just me, or if my cowardice and inability to reach out is what ended our friendship. I took the step, I apologized, and it was rebuffed. I’ve done everything I could.

So I feel decent. A bit drained, after these three events of the last twelve hours, and I’m really not looking forward to going to work this morning (yep, I have to be at work today too), but at least I know that Abbey got the words of the message, if not the spirit of it. I’m sorry for being a cad when I was younger, and I want people to know that.

This also has the added benefit of making me even more thankful for the relationships that have been repaired over the last couple of years. It’s not like I’m best friends with any of them, but I think it’s healthy for both parties to confront any residual bitterness and anger and let that go. Apologizing gives us both that opportunity, and I’m glad everyone else (there were at least four people I had to write) engaged me in that manner.

So… sucky day. I’m not all sunshine and smiles that my apology was met with a threat of a lawsuit from the person who was once my only Christian friend. But at least I’ve got some closure.

3 thoughts on “The Unexpected Comes In Threes

  1. Just a note to reach out. I, too, have had this experience of reaching out to someone who was once very close to me, and many years later being harshly rebuffed, as you worded it. I felt resolution and the lightness of personal forgiveness (that is, ability to forgive one’s self) that I had made an honest effort to resolve and make peace with an old situation otherwise gone. I was upset for a while, but thought later: I had done what I could do, and was not responsible for the actions of the other person – they hold the negative that they will, but I have chosen to seek forgiveness and let go. And for me, forgiveness of self was a major part of the process.
    So, while certainly the situations must be different, empathy and a little bit of understanding. All of my best to you and yours,

  2. Matthew,
    I am sorry you had such a sucky 24 hours! But you are pretty awesome & GOD knows that! What a brave thing to do to contact these people. I hope your day at work is smooth & you get to enjoy some coffee 🙂
    Jenn

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