When saying sorry doesn’t bring forgiveness…

I recently hurt a very good friend.  Someone I had fun with, trusted, respected, admired, and valued as a meaningful part of my day to day existence.  I did not mean to or expect to.  And I did my best to keep the damage to a minimum.  But as I mentioned in my last post, sometimes life is just messy.  Life sometimes presents us with situations where all we can do is choose between the lesser of two evils…

I have made sincere apologies and stressed that if I could have managed matters any other way that would have prevented negative feelings I would have.  But I have not been forgiven and I’m not sure I will be.

For so many reasons this situation is unsettling for me.  I wish I could say that it was the first and only time I’ve done something like this and in a literal sense it definitely is.  But I’ve hurt people, I’ve made mistakes, some I regret quite bitterly.  So what do we do with these feelings?  This guilt and this shame?

As a therapist I could point out that the very presence guilt and shame is a clear sign that we are good people, otherwise we wouldn’t care how we made other people feel.  At least not for that long…  But although true, what might initially appear to be a clever little “reframe” actually just feels quite hollow and ultimately useless.

As a human I can also entertain a seemingly limitless amount of defensive strategies to ease my discomfort, like pointing out my friend’s pettiness in being unable to be happy for me (I don’t really believe this), or rationalizing that I deserve the good that came out of this, or arguing that karma is eventually going to bite me in the ass for this anyway, or even intellectualizing that life is just sometimes messy….  Unfortunately, as a therapist, and a regular meditator, I can usually see what my defenses are up to fairly quickly.  (Not always of course, we all have our blindspots).  And defenses are not long-term solutions anyway, at least not healthy ones, even if they do stay in place permanently…

So what do we do with these uncomfortable feelings that we would like to get rid of?  Fundamentally the only thing we can do with them really:  we feel them, we accept them, we validate them, we listen to what they are trying to tell us, we observe them, we talk about them, we learn from them, we let them be okay…  How and why do we do this?  We do this by tapping into our inner wisdom that states that fundamentally, no matter what, we are okay, despite our flaws, mistakes, regrets, weaknesses, guilt and shame, we are always okay…

Keep well…


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