Yesterday by sheer coincidence, I saw the final person I needed to apologize to. It takes overwhelming courage. I walked in, saw him, and immediately planned my escape—get my phone wire and bolt. I was about to head out when I thought to myself, “I need to do this. I won’t see him again and this is as much for me as it is for him.” It’s a terrifying feeling, vulnerability. And very uncomfortable. His face was different from what I like to remember. Cold. Mean. Unforgiving.
But although his reaction wasn’t what I had hoped, it also wasn’t out of my expectations. I apologized for causing him harm. I wanted him to know I had no intention to hurt him. I also wanted him to know that I’m not going to make excuses or run away.
Brene Brown wrote, “Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them. Being vulnerable and open is mutual and an integral part of the trust-building process.” I’ve been struggling with the fact that I let him get so close to me. I’ve been blaming myself for allowing myself to be so vulnerable. I shouldn’t have done that. I shouldn’t have let him in. I shouldn’t have believed in him. I shouldn’t have gotten attached.
But that’s silly. I can’t regret him. To be vulnerable is to live. It’s not weakness, it’s fundamental humanity. To be able to be vulnerable to a person like him, to establish such a connection, even if short-lived, has changed me in ways I had never thought possible.
Apologizing to him, acknowledging my mistake, and taking responsibility was, as Theodore Roosevelt would put it, “daring greatly.” It’s courage beyond measure. “And often the result of daring greatly isn’t a victory march as much as it is a quiet sense of freedom mixed with a little battle fatigue.”
He didn’t accept or reject my apology. He didn’t really say anything. But I realized that there was no “answer.” I wasn’t asking a question. I made amends however I could, I did right by myself and hopefully by him. Whether or not he chooses to hold onto his anger, his contempt, or hatred for me, that’s on him. I’ve done what I’ve could, now I can move on. I can’t go back in time and heal you. I can’t even promise if we had gone back in time that I would have done things differently. All I can tell you is that I’ve realized I’ve done wrong, I’m changing and improving, and I won’t make the same mistake twice. I’ve stopped running away. I’ve started running towards.
I took a leap of faith with my vulnerability. I made all kinds of mistakes to protect myself or to feel worthy or simply just to express anger. I’ve never felt so… human. The human mind is so malleable. The human heart, so resilient. The human existence is so… exquisite.
- dare I say it? - a sense of freedom. No more hoping for him to come back. No more waiting on his texts. No more punishing myself for not being good enough for him. No more perfecting him in my mind and abusing myself for having lost perfection. He’s not. He’s human, just like me. He’s made mistakes too.
Perhaps most liberating is accepting the fact that for a person who said he cared about me and knew so much about me, for him to lose trust in me so easily, for him to give up on our friendship, for him to find it too stressful to stand by my side in times of trouble—is this really a friend worth having in the first place? Rather than to live at the mercy of a person who can up and leave without warning, why not choose for myself the people who can stay in my life, the people I can take care of and love and support and vice versa? I think this is fair. I think I’ve learned.
So I think I’m done with this goal. I’m sure I’ll make more and different mistakes as I grow and fall and learn and relearn. But I hope that every time I do, I still have the courage to face myself and my shortcomings, and to do right by those that I’ve probably harmed in the process of me growing up. I hope that I’ll be brave and allow myself to be vulnerable, give myself permission to fail and make mistakes, but also to have the strength to start all over again.