These are the hardest words to say. They are often linked to shame and guilt and other indescribable behavior that bring uncomfortable emotions. And I don’t mean the “I’m sorry!” that comes from leaving two pieces of Fruit Loops in the cereal box or the gallon of milk in the refrigerator with a drop of liquid because you are too lazy to throw both items out. I mean the “I am sorry” because you truly hurt someone and need to own up to it. Whether or not it was intentionally, well, that’s another issue. It really doesn’t matter. “I am sorry” is still painful when it requires taking responsibility for our fault.
Almost twenty years ago, right before my father passed, I went to visit him in Puerto Rico for a long weekend. He was just entering his long suffering of cancer. I did not know this. My father had been pretty non-existent from most of my life. That weekend he drove me around the island. We had a wonderful time. I was a young adult with two boys and a divorce under my belt. I was determined to enjoy a precious time with him.
He showed me Puerto Rico through his eyes. He loved to take pictures. He was an amazing photographer. There was always a camera somewhere near his proximity. It didn’t matter if it was at home or in the car. This elderly man allowed me to see the beauty of the tropical island through his vision.
In one of those relaxing moments, rocking away on the balcony of his apartment, overlooking the city, he said, “I am sorry.” His voice cracked, his eyes watered, and he placed his hands on his forehead. I looked over at him and asked, “What for?” He said, “For everything. For not being part of your childhood, or your adolescence. For being selfish….”
I stopped his apology. I interrupted his flow. I couldn’t handle the emotions that would bring both of us to ruin a wonderful and memorable weekend. I had so few of them that I didn’t want to go to that place of hurt. I did not want to enter the depth of the ocean of truth and release. I told him there was nothing to forgive. He looked at me as he had allowed the tears to flow down his cheeks and continued to explain the reasons for so much. And with each word, the magic of forgiveness appeared like a genie releasing out a bottle. All my memories and pain began to create a void in the agreement of conditioning I had created for years.
Those words are often excruciating and agonizing to hear. We shush them at times because what they are requiring from us is to go to a place of acceptance, and deliberating the “letting go” of our stories. When did, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” become an acceptance in our society? What that sentence did for the movie Love Story does absolutely nothing for our humanness. Because we love, we must conjure up those words and truly express their meaning.
A year after I left my ex, I wrote him a long letter taking responsibility for my share of absence in our eighteen year relationship. He wasn’t in the union alone in destroying the sacredness of love. I was not present in the last few years. It didn’t matter who abandoned ship first, I had to own up to my faults. And that’s hard. It’s horrible to admit when you are responsible for your story. I never heard from him until a few months ago when, right before Christmas, he called to tell me the words, “I am sorry.” They were followed by such deep emotions that they broke me and set me free simultaneously.
“I am sorry” release so much stigma, shame, weakness, delinquency, guilt, blame, acceptance, dishonor and much more. But if we don’t truly own up to them we can’t be free. We cannot move on to the next lessons that the Divine has available for us. The more humility one has the easier things become. Ego places a huge price on those words, but our spirits know that they are the “abracadabra” of our existence with love and each other.