The Hardest Word

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

You said or did something to hurt your friend. Maybe you were snarky at the bus stop, or standoffish at a school event or dismissive of her idea when she was just trying to help.
Whatever it was, you know you were wrong and the fact that you had had a crappy day is no excuse.
Now you’re stuck with yourself and your guilt. And you don’t know what to do.
You want to call her and say, I’m so sorry. I was an idiot and shouldn’t have done that. I value your friendship. Please forgive me.
But you’re scared. You’re scared that once you admit that you were being childish and thoughtless she will see that you’re flawed and will think less of you.
You also don’t want to apologize because you know it will be uncomfortable. And not just for you but for her too. You’ll have to tell her that you know that your stupid comment or behavior had the power to hurt her. And that makes you both vulnerable. And that’s something you don’t want to deal with.
So you start convincing yourself that it was no big deal.
That she probably didn’t even notice your comment, or your cold shoulder, or your reaction to her advice.
And even if she did notice, you think, she probably didn’t even care. She knows you love her. She’ll likely just chalk it up to you having had a bad day or being distracted.
Yes, of course. She’s totally fine. It would be silly to apologize for something so small. You can’t believe you even considered it.
Just to be on the safe side though, you’ll be extra attentive and kind next time you see her. And that will definitely make up for your minor transgression.
Phew! Glad that’s over. Now you can go back to feeling good.
But lurking deep in your heart you know that you’re being a coward.
And even though you’ve shoved the guilty feeling into a place where you don’t see it, every once in a while it will pop up and wash over you.
And the next time you do something unintentionally hurtful, and there will be a next time because there always is, you’ll make the same excuses not to say anything and assume your friendship is fine.
But each small action or lack of action chips away at your friendship and one day that friendship will not be as close or as strong because you didn’t do the work to take care of it.
So instead of doing the easy cowardly thing, do the hard thing. Go over to her house and say, I’m not sure if you noticed that I was being a bit cold or that I reacted badly to your advice but I wanted to tell you that I’m sorry. I know I was inconsiderate and if I hurt you, even unintentionally, I apologize. You’re a great friend and I am so happy to have you in my life.
Your friend might be surprised by your apology and your sentiments and say that she didn’t even notice your infraction. Or she might instantly comfort you by saying that you didn’t need to apologize.
But no matter what she says to comfort you or make the situation easy for both of you, inside her heart she will appreciate your apology. And she will love you more for caring enough about her and your friendship to take that step.
And you will have done the right thing for a friendship you treasure.

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