I'm Sorry. You Don't Have to Forgive Me.

I just listened to a conversation between two of my favorite writers: Brene Brown and Harriet Lerner about the power of apologizing. They told a parable of a king and his son who had a falling out. In the story, the king sends word to his son, "Return as far as you can, and I will come the rest of the way to meet you." Isn't that powerful? It made me think of my dad, who has been gone 6 years yesterday. I miss sitting on his lap and telling him all the shit that bangs around in my head. I miss him telling me how smart and pretty I am. I miss being cherished ... but I'm grateful for having been cherished.

Phew, this isn't about my dad. So back to that conversation, Brene says it's our duty to apologize. I agree. I've gotten quite adept at apologizing--mostly because I'm pretty adept at fucking things up. I have a smart mouth and a quick temper and have been guilty more times than I care to count of hurting people's feelings with my sometimes-cutting words. I always regret being unkind. I would much rather save a relationship than be right. Still, sometimes the words come out before the brain and heart have a chance to temper them. I'm sorry.

Here's the thing though: While it's on us to apologize, it's not the other person's duty to forgive us. When we apologize, we can't do so with expectations. I'm not good at this. Not at all. In fact, I SUUUUCCCCKKK at this. If someone apologizes to me, I will accept it and them with open arms. Consequently I have grown to expect this in return. Because I'm a little--lot--bit idealistic. But that's not fair; is it?

Have you heard of the concept of Ho'oponopono? It's an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness involving 4 simple concepts and phrases:

Repentence: I'm sorry.
Forgiveness: Please forgive me.
Gratitude: Thank you.
Love: I love you.

We can use it to heal a multitude of transgressions and old wounds in ourselves. Additionally it's a very simple way to seek healing in relationships. But we can only reach out; we can't expect others to welcome us with open arms, or reach back or anything else for that matter. No expectations.

Oh look. It's another four things. Just like The Four Agreements, which I still am doing my best to live by. Maybe this year, SINCE I'M 44, I'll do better with my 4's.

In the middle of writing this blog, I got a phone call from one of my best friends. Over the course of our conversation, we talked about writing and she said, "It's so funny, when I talk to you about your writing it's like you're in labor, but when I read it, it's like you're running down the beach with a kite." Perspectives. This one, I bet, is like labor for all of us. Ugh.

What are you giving up for Lent, if you practice that? I'm going to give up saying mean things to people. Including myself. Starting...........Now.


  1. I love you dear friend. These are good thoughts to begin Lent. I'm so glad we met.


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