Wednesday, July 7, 2010

When "I'm Sorry" Is Not Enough

There are some wrongs that can never be made right. Some things from the past can never be made good again. No amount of “I’m sorry’s” or “Please forgive me’s” will make a bit of difference. They almost seem to make everything worse.

When the hateful words have been said, when the trust has been broken, there might not ever be a way of making it better. Some people just don’t care about you anymore. Some people write you out of their lives and gladly never look back. Some simply choose not to forgive, not wanting to let the person “off the hook”. And some just don’t have to capacity to let go of the pain.

Whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter. People have the right to hold on to the hurt as long as they choose. Most of us have done some terrible things and forgiveness is just not an option for those we’ve hurt.

When we, as the “wrongdoers” are not granted restitution for our mistakes, we have to accept this. If we’ve been honest with our part in the errors we’ve made, asked humbly for forgiveness and offered to do whatever we can to make it better, we’ve done all we can do. If our loved one cannot or will not accept our request, we can go no further. We’re drunks, not Superheroes.

The pain of not being forgiven cuts deep, sometimes much deeper than the original reason such forgiveness is sought. Maybe that’s the motive for our loved ones not to forgive us. Maybe they want us to hurt for as long as possible. They want to dig in the spurs for the rest of our lives to get back at us for the mess we’ve put them through. Maybe the love and trust is gone forever and the relationship is damaged beyond repair. This continued pain for past wrongs hurts just as it is intended to. It's our turn to see how it feels.

In recovery, we grow hearts; we feel everything. We no longer run from the pain or numb our spirits from consequences. But we also grow backbones. We no longer crawl before anyone, even those we love dearly that we so desperately want to mend fences with but will not allow it.

When the wreckage from our past stares us in the face and no restitution is granted, it’s over. There’s absolutely nothing more we can do. Going back and re-writing the past is impossible.

Our responsibility now is to ourselves and our fellows. We put one foot in front of the other, hold our head high with the knowledge we would never do those things again, and be the best person to ourselves and to others that we can, for one day at a time.

Lack of forgiveness does not mean defeat. It is not an excuse to wallow in more self pity. It is a chance to humble ourselves to the fact that we have been hurtful beings and to own our part of that. Then all we can do is move forward, learn from it and let go.

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