— Elbert Hubbard.
In high school, one of my friends had a boyfriend that could only be described as a punk. I could never see what she saw in him. It had nothing to do with his looks, he wasn’t as cute as he thought he was, but he wasn’t a troll, either. He drove a great car, wore clean clothes, got all A’s and seemed to have a pretty good sense of humor. The problem was in the way he treated my friend. He’d tease her in front of people, insulting the way she talked, walked, wore her hair, etc. I saw her cry so many times because she felt like she wasn’t good enough for him, or because he had embarassed her. He’d always apologize later, but he’d turn around and do it again. And again. The boy seemed to charge the batteries of his ego on her embarrassment.
After what seemed to me like forever, she told him to take a hike. In a moment that made time stand still, he asked me why she dumped him. I finally got to give him the pieces of my mind that I had been reserving just for him. I laid out all his “done-her-wrongs” and all the boy could ever reply was, “I said I was sorry for that.” or “I apologized.”
Hurting someone is okay as long as you say you’re sorry afterwards? No way.
I was writing an article for The Mental Fitness Center this morning, and this scene from history played out in my mind like a re-run. I was, and am, amazed that this guy didn’t understand that “sorry” doesn’t erase a wrong. Sorry is a band-aid that goes on a wound – hopefully one that will help it heal. It isn’t a miracle cure that takes the wound away, ESPECIALLY if you keep reinjuring the same area!
Now that I’m no longer a ticked-off teenager, I look back with more concern for the boy than for my friend. I wonder if he grew up in a home where the parents did and said things that hurt him over and over again, followed always by an “I’m sorry.” Maybe that was the only reality he knew.
My friend found love and happiness, I just hope and pray that he did as well. I like to think that he came across a spit-fire of a girl in college who stood up to him, toe to toe, and introduced him to a new type of reality.
Asking for forgiveness is, and always has been, second best. The one apologizing is trying to cover the wound they inflicted. How much better would it be not to cause the pain in the first place? That’d make a respectable goal for all of us: If doing or saying something in particular would lead to us apologizing, best think of something else to do and say.
Make each moment count double,