30 Years of Hurt

Hearing first hand how my actions hurt someone nearly 30 years ago wasn’t the most uncomfortable part of the conversation.

Not even close.

What stung the most was the fact this person could recite the hurtful words I called her verbatim.

As quickly and as callously they flew from my mouth, they were long gone and forgotten. Like a bomb that inflicts damage on impact while the plane safely flies away.

But for her they lingered. Etched in memory all these years.

When I called her an “MR”, the neighbor kids knew it stood for “Mental Retard”. Maybe such language was funny to a 10-year old boy. But it wasn’t to a young girl. And that was just the start.

How could I have been so mean? I never considered myself a bully. But I’m now forced to consider how inappropriate my actions were to this person who was shy and never tossed hurtful comments in my direction.

What is the appropriate response? I wasn’t sure so I sat back and listened. What I learned was that this wasn’t a one time occurrence. My behavior took place over a number of years.

When she finished, I wasn’t sure what to say. How do I apologize for 30 years worth of hurt?

“I feel so bad. Is it too late to say I’m sorry?”

“Of course not”

And with that the forgiveness process began. There’s no statute of limitations when it comes to asking for forgiveness.

I wouldn’t have blamed her if she decided to get this off her chest and then move on, wanting nothing to do with me again.

But she gave me a second chance. That it came many years later makes no difference. Not everyone gets a second chance. Especially in friendships.

So I will embrace this one.

Because today I not only learned a valuable lesson, I may have gained a friend, 30 years in the making.

Comments

  1. I probably would have provided you plenty of fodder back in the day as I was goofy as they came. Glad you got a second chance.

  2. Awesome to get a second chance. So glad you took it.

  3. Good post Brett. I used to say stuff like that too. When my daughter Madison came into this world, everything changed for me. It’s always good to get second chances.

  4. Grandpa Henke says:

    This post made me stop to think. Who have I offended over the years? We see from the web where things people post come back to haunt them. I realize that our lives are like the web, once something is done, or said it is there and is imprinted in time and while we may forget, it lives on in some lives. It is good there is a cleansing process that can lessen the hurt that we create. We do need to take advantage of the forgiveness process ( both giving and receiving ) as we go through life as we all make many mistakes. Thank you for the post.

  5. Wow, I gotta admit, I am torn on this one… I think more becuase I was on the recieving end. One part of me says awesome chance, the other part says to get over it.

    I guess looking back, and forward, it pains me to think that I intentionally hurt anyone’s feelings. However being on the recieving end of it and growing older, I would suppose half of my communication style has been built around poking fun at myself and others. I tend to use humor, (sometimes, shall we say, salty humor) to break down barriers and tell someone that I am comfortable enough with them to poke fun and enjoy myself. I have pretty tough skin.

    On the other hand, I also avoid those people in my past that have hurt me intentionally or otherwise. All the missed oportunities to have friends I have essentially walked away from, all because I never considered talking to them to resolve issues that we may have had.

    I skipped my 10 year reunion. I wasn’t interested in seeing too many of my old high school chums. However a few months later, a friend passed away, and I went to the funeral. A bunch of the people I never would have considered talking to were there. Hugs, handshakes, and only good memories were all they seemed to talk about. Either I am the one that remembers that bad times, or they were too embarassed to talk about them. It was nice to see them.

    I still harbor some feelings… Now that I can catch up on Facebook, there are those that I won’t add. (Like it is some sort of punishment to them) and there are some that I have added and it seems to send them a sort of olive branch, like, “hey man, I am not pissed at you anymore… here be my facebook friend.”

    Kinda makes you wonder exactly what the Lord means when he says you will have a bright recollection of all your guilt… seems to me that this is the easy part.

  6. Thanks for sharing this personal learning experience. Once we’ve gained some years of experience many of us can look back and see where our thoughtless words or actions hurt someone one. Unfortunately, we don’t all get the second chance to make it right. There was a girl in my class in grade school who always sat on the grass instead of played or chased with us. She said she had a bad heart. I don’t recall ever calling her names but I do remember some of us thinking she was making it up. I’m sure she felt bad every time we ran off to play and left her sitting alone. I have regretted many times that I didn’t sit on the grass with her more often, particularly since she died during the summer before we would have started junior high together. I wish that our teacher or her mother would have talked to us and explained her situation.

  7. I loved this post.

    I find as I get older that the desire to make amends grows ever stronger. I’ve never really bothered to ask myself why that is – is it because I retain memories of being hurtful? Or could it be that I’m subconsciously remembering being on the receiving end? Of course I’d like to think it’s because I’m (in general) more mature, but I’m pretty sure there must be some personal psychology at play.

    I’m glad you got a second chance, and glad you took advantage of the opportunity to apologize.

  8. I had a similar experience when an old friend added me to Facebook. I was excited to hear from him and catch up. He made a joke that he doesn’t “squeak” anymore and I had no idea what he was talking about. He then told me that when we were young, I called him “squeaks” during that awkward age when his voice was changing. I didn’t believe him. I couldn’t possibly imagine I would ever do that – especially at such a time in a young teens life.

    He reassured me I did. I felt (and still feel) awful about it. We actually met for drinks and I apologized. But to think that 20 years later, that still comes to his mind…. augh.

    Thanks for sharing this post. It’s amazing how we change as adults.

  9. Brett Nordquist says:

    @Todd Jordan – Thank you for the kind words.

  10. Whew. This was sad to read. I used to be a bit of a bully. For all the sterotypical reasons a kid bullies. I was also bulliED and those people never said sorry on Facebook. :-(

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