I was at a house party looking over at a friend-turned-frenemy.
We had exchanged an awkward ‘hello’ earlier that afternoon, having not seen or spoken to each other in years. As the party progressed, we were on opposite sides of the room, enjoying ourselves but giving each other the occasional side-eye, trying to pretend the other person wasn’t there.
As the evening drew on, I began to feel the weight of the tension between us. This is someone I’ve known a long time, and even though we’ve never been joined at the hip, we shared the same circles and enjoyed many happy moments together. One day, because of a ‘he-said-she-said’ scenario, we began to build this wall between us that now seemed ten feet high. The tension escalated, we said hurtful things behind the other’s back that eventually came back to bite us and now here we were, barely able to look one another in the eye. I suddenly felt annoyed and frustrated. Aren’t we a little too old not to hash things out?
I felt myself move towards her. ‘Can we talk?’ I asked, not knowing how this was going to end but prepared to try all the same. She seemed genuinely surprised, worried even, but willingly said, ‘sure’. One thing was for certain; I didn’t feel compelled to apologise for my actions over the last few years; I didn’t think I’d said or done anything wrong so I was waiting to get an apology from HER. We began that difficult conversation. She claimed I suddenly shut her out of my life, I told her I felt the same way, that she’d slowly started avoiding me. The conversation didn’t last long. We both got very emotional and then realised we should have had this conversation ages ago, because it was clearly miscommunication and the ripple effect had lead us to this point.
She began to cry and for a moment I stood there…and then my heart just sank. ‘You really hurt me,’ she blurted out. I hugged her and it came tumbling out my mouth. ‘I’m sorry’. I’m not even sure what I was apologising for but she was hurt and it seemed, still seems like the right thing to have done. And that, for the most part, was that. We hugged it out, and decided to move past the drama and start afresh. Things haven’t been perfect since then, I don’t expect anything spectacular to happen overnight, but we’re definitely in a better place now and have even spoken on phone a few times and purposed to meet.
It seems like the hardest word to say nowadays is ‘sorry’. A genuine, heartfelt sorry, one that can mend bridges, heal a broken heart, restore a friendship.
Granted, in some situations the other party has wronged you, hurt you, tried you. If someone is poisoning your happiness for no particular reason other than to feed their own sadistic nature (you’ve even tried talking it out with them and they just seem defiant), that relationship is probably not worth you investing time in. Move past it.
From time to time I still struggle with saying ‘I’m sorry’. It could be pride, or the fear of looking weak. Whatever the reason, wisdom continues to teach me that, no matter how difficult it may be to say it, ‘sorry’ pacifies and gives you peace of mind. Whether or not the recipient of your apology forgives you, you may not know it but you’ve just started your own healing by being the bigger person.
My advice? If you’re weighing a situation trying to figure out whether or not to extend that olive branch, meditate on it, even seek counsel from someone who knows you well and then make a decision that you’ll be at peace with. In the end, your clear conscience is what matters. But better learn how to get your ‘sorries’ right, because it’s increasingly hard to live in the global village without them.
‘People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway’ – Do it Anyway, Mother Teresa
Photography: Olive Ndungutse (Facebook)
Sweater: Kungara (kungarakenya.net)
Make up: @kaytemachariamakeup (Instagram)
Hair: Lenny Ngugi (Facebook)