It's been a while since we've chatted. Years, even. You were my maid of honor. You were the first person I texted when I learned I was pregnant. You were there for the birth of AB, the first public tantrum (AB's, not mine), and my first outing post baby. You held my baby shower for me, planned down to every last detail. You called me every day to catch up. Our friendship spawned over more than 15 years. It wasn't always smooth, but you grew into someone I considered family, even if we had a lot of different views. And boy, we sure did, and I imagine still do, don't we?
You went on with your wedding, without me. And I heard you've given birth to your first child. I'm sure there's so much I've missed out on, but those ones seem like pretty big deals.
You're probably wondering why I'm writing today. Well, today, I had one of those "epiphany" moments. A mixture of self-realization of my own hypocrisy and fault-able pride. (I just made up that word but it felt right).
You see, I still recall almost every heated word we exchanged resulting in the end of our friendship. If I'm good at anything it's the over analysis of every word I've ever said and written. I did something that hurt your feelings. And while my actions and words weren't intentional in doing so, the responsibility was still my own to accept for how it made you feel. But instead, I turned the tables at the opportunity to apologize. When you reacted in defensiveness and anger, and left me little room to explain or give me the benefit of the doubt, I demanded you apologize to me for presuming the worst of me before giving me an opportunity to clarify.
Yes, I made myself the victim. While my actions initiated the situation we found ourselves in, I chose to focus not on how I hurt you and what I did to put this whole train in motion, but how your response hurt me. And, I wouldn't let up. All you wanted was an apology. And while I gave you an apology, it wasn't the one you deserved.
We all know a true apology. One without "buts." Ones that don't fault the person for their feelings while being disguised as an apology. A real apology goes like this: "I'm sorry. I can see now that what I said hurt you tremendously and that was not my intent. But regardless of my intent, I take responsibility for what I said, and I want you to know that I value your friendship and understand why you're upset with me. I hope I can explain to you why I said what I said, and we can mend this. I am very sorry."
I couldn't, or wouldn't give you that. I gave you the "fake" apology. The one that sounds sorta like an apology but moonlights as a jerk. Pride? Stubbornness? An inability or unwillingness to accept my role in the situation? A double dose of Dayquil, new-mom-mode-overworked-zero-fucks-to-give-about-anyone-else? Probably all of the above... and none of those are excuses. I could have offered you the apology I knew you were looking for and the one you deserved and I didn't. And I was wrong.
Today I found myself in an argument whose structure mirrored our own. Except this time, I was you. And I reacted the same way you did. I became defensive and angry. And I charged with that, as opposed to giving a friend the benefit of the doubt to explain her actions. And do you know what she did? The same thing I did to you so long ago. She doubled down. She said and did exactly what I did.
The whole situation didn't end ideally, but it ended... and I'm grateful it happened. Not grateful for less than storybook endings, but grateful that it's served as one of those "teachable moments" we all try and identify when raising our children. That may sound silly but in processing the words exchanged and the situation as a whole, a little "BING" lightbulb went off this evening. I finally get it. I get your anger. I get your hurt. I get WHY. And, I'm able to see with clearness what I wish I had done then, that I'm doing now. I know it's a little late, but I want to give you that apology you deserve, with no strings attached and no hidden meanings or qualifying statements.