The Power of an Apology

Lisa - Henrietta, New York
Entered on June 15, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: forgiveness

It wasn’t really a big deal if you think about it…just a crush. Just a sixteen year old boy, and me, a foolishly hopeful fifteen year old girl. Nothing happened really. No epic romance, no kisses, no “I love you’s.”

“You can’t keep on going on, the whole two girls, one guy thing. Please don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about” I said, frustration piercing through my voice.

“You mean…her…” he hesitated, his voice softer than mine.

“Yes,” I whispered. My frustration was gone. The gentleness of his voice and the sweet sadness in his eyes calmed me, giving me hope once again.

He said nothing. My heart dropped. The balloon of hope that had been inflating for months suddenly burst inside my throat.

Silence was the only thing standing between us and the past four months. It felt like a movie, just standing there. The only thing I could see was him. Minutes passed as I stared at him, but it felt like hours. The hallway was crowded, everyone rushing to class in the last few minutes. And then just us, leaning against the wall, staring into each others eyes, everything going unsaid. The world could have passed by in that moment, but I wasn’t paying attention. To everyone else, it was no big deal; just another day. But to me, it was different.

The bell rang. He didn’t move, he didn’t even break his gentle gaze away from my eyes.

“…You should go” I said with hesitance, only to be followed with more silence. “You’re going to be late” I added more, in hopes that he would too.

“I don’t care if I’m late; all I care is that you’re okay”

I was left with mixed emotions: frustration, fear, sadness, hurt; but I was never angry. I had so much left to say, so much I wanted to know. Not a day went by where I didn’t think about everything I could have said, everything that could have been. I was left with so many questions. Did he ever really like me? Did he intentionally lead me on? What if I didn’t confront him? Was it just a waste of time? Does he find me annoying? Should I blame myself? But I was too hurt; I figured it didn’t matter anyways; he was with her now.

Nearly two months had passed by since we stopped talking, when I got an email from him.

…hey, look… I’m really sorry ‘bout what I made u think… it was stupid of me n’ to be honest I didn’t mean to make you think anything when in truth I really meant to be with someone else…

…I wasn’t quite sure who I’d ask out yet…so all I meant to say was that it wasn’t over yet…n’ plus I wanted to see you be happy… I don’t know if I told you this but I don’t like it when my friends aren’t happy… with each other and especially not when they’re unhappy about what I did… or said… or didn’t do…

…I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m sorry I deceived you or made you think something other than what I meant…I’d like to be friends but if that’s too weird for you or you’re not cool with that it’s okay…I’m good with whatever you decide to do…I just wanted to let you know that this has been eating at me ever since I asked her out…and in truth it was things like this that kept me away from asking a girl out in the first place…I was afraid that I’d make someone I know unhappy who I chose n’ that it wasn’t them…

He didn’t have to apologize. He didn’t have to take the time to explain. He could have gone on with life, choosing to avoid confronting me about the past. I didn’t need to be in his life anymore, He did what he felt was right, even though it wasn’t the easiest thing. He knew he hurt me, but even so, he did what he had to in the nicest way possible. In no way was he trying to pacify me, I didn’t ask for an apology—in fact, I didn’t even complain. By apologizing he was gaining nothing. The past four months of my life that had held so much tension, were suddenly vindicated with one sincere apology. With just that one sincere apology, we were both able to feel better about the situation, and mend the unspoken tensions that had grown between us. I believe in the power of an apology. Not the meaningless, “I’m saying sorry because I got caught” sorry. The true, sincere, apologies. The ones that require courage and compassion, and expect nothing in return.