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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Apologies


Once when I was in second grade, I told my sister I hated her. We shared a bedroom and I’m pretty sure she crossed the physical line I had laid down to divide our room. She cried of course and I was grounded. The words “I hate you” had been building into some monster inside me for some time. I thought it would feel great to spit them out at her, but the moment they flew from my mouth I felt terrible. I only felt worse as I watched her cheeks swell pink and wet with tears and her big brown eyes turn the saddest red I could have possibly imagined. I apologized, she accepted and shortly there after we probably played with dolls or went running around our backyard trying to catch butterflies like all was cheery and normal. I said sorry and she forgave me instantly. It was as if that five letter word had the strength to delete moments in history. It was powerful and in that second I believed I was equipped with something magical.

Years passed and “sorry” was said more frequently and slowly devalued until it became only five letters, not a word, not a passion, not a truly deep attempt to start anew. We’ve all said sorry a million time, I’m sure if you sat back you’d realize you’ve probably even said it once or twice today. Now “sorry” doesn’t delete the past, doesn’t mend a deep wound, only sprinkles a bit of fairy dust on the disaster at hand – which unless you’re Peter Pan or Tinker Bell, is sadly worthless.

Everything doesn’t get harder as you get older, at least not in my experience. It is a lot easier to reach the top shelf of the cupboard, I don’t need my Mommy to drive me to school and I can stay up as late as I want without my Dad popping it to tell me it’s time for bed. But, it seems apologies have gotten a whole lot harder and forgiveness doesn’t instantly turn into a play date catching butterflies, if forgiveness is ever reached at all.

For a while I believed it was easy to hold a grudge, not only because a sorry has to be quite a show to make things seem okay but also because at least for me, it gave me power over the offender. Maybe for a moment I could inflict a bit of pain on them when they saw that I was brick wall when it came to that flimsy apology they were trying to toss at me.

In study performed at Hope College in Holland, Mich., researches came to conclude that the oh so powerful grudge so many of us love to cling onto may be bad for our health. Gasp! They found that when one forgives they tend to end up feeling more positive and less stressed then their cynical counterparts.

And so, I’ve begun a widespread forgiveness campaign and hate to admit that it almost feels great. Unfortunately many people I encounter in my hunt for a grudge free life are appalled by my new forgiveness regimen. I’ve frequently received a “you’re forgiving who! For what! Why? I would hate them forever!” I’m a weakling in their eyes, a push over and a doormat.

Why is that forgiveness comes off to many as a sign of the weak? Is it because sorry is merely a sound we here a dozen times a day as we accidentally bump into someone in the hallway or take too long checking out a book in the library? Although I do hate that silly simple worthless little word “sorry”, forgiveness is a new freedom. If only I had learned from sister years ago. So sis thanks for accepting my apology and for catching butterflies with me in the backyard. I didn’t hate you, I just didn’t want you on my side of the bedroom.

Cheers,
Hannah

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hannah,
Your posting this week is really thought provoking. I agree the word sorry has lost it's meaning over the years as people (including myself) throw it around on a regular basis. But I think it's important to keep saying it and keep forgiving. Like you said holding a grudge and remaining upset with them takes it's toll on your health, stree level and overall happiness. Maybe forgiveness can't erase what happened or change the past, but forgivenss does allow room for growth and acceptance in the future.
Great Job-
Alex

March 4, 2010 at 11:23 AM  

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