Friday, January 11, 2013

The Meaning of Sorry

I wish that someone would have told me that saying "I'm sorry" meant more than "I did not mean to do that" or "I was wrong" or "I feel bad for you."

I wish someone had told me that saying I was sorry could also mean that I never meant to hurt their feelings.

As a child, I was stubborn. On principle, I wouldn't apologize if I felt I didn't mean it. Otherwise, the person would think they were right, or that I was weak, or that I regretted my actions.

At age 22, I've only just realized that the timeless "sorry" can mean so much more to someone. And that regret is not failure, or something of which to be ashamed.

If you still worry, phrase it in a way like: "I never meant to hurt your feelings. I'm sorry."

Sorry makes the difference between leaving a fight with a salvageable relationship and leaving a fight on non-speaking terms. Then again, there are sometimes that "sorry" doesn't cut it. No matter how soon it's said.

Until this revelation, I walked with the mindset that I would never regret something because, at one time, I had meant it. And from these mistakes or actions, I was made into my present person, developmentally or literally.

I've grown older now and my prefrontal cortex is almost finished maturing. There are only a few things I truly regret in my life--things that I wish I handled differently--but I do regret them deeply.

Let me make it clear: I do not believe I would still have grown without them. I just feel that my development, my feelings on the matter, and my impressions were not--and are not--worth the harm it caused for another person.

When I was a teen, my sister teased me. I don't think she meant to be mean, but that didn't stop her words from hurting. My sister was skilled in the way of cutting people with words whereas I was graced with muscle. Most times, I didn't let her get under my skin because, when I did fight with her, I tended to lose my temper.

My sister had been having some problems with her throat and, as far as I knew, she was going to get a simple surgery to remove a growth. One day, she and I were arguing by our respective bedroom doors. I couldn't stand hearing her anymore.

In an effort to get her to leave me alone, I shouted, "I hope you do have cancer. Maybe then you'll stop talking to me."

What I didn't know was that there was a chance it could have been cancer. (It wasn't.) Still, even if I didn't know, it was one of the most mean spirited things I could have said.

That is one of those moments I regret. I wished I had never learned that lesson.

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