Reading for Treasure

Regretfully Yours

Posted at Jan 11, 2017 8:00 am

“I’m sorry.” Those two words form one of the hardest phrases anyone has to say.

A favorite troupe in romance novels is the overbearing, “alpha” hero who pushes, prods and tries to dominate the heroine at every turn.  Inevitably she reaches a point when she’s had enough. Whether she tells him off and storms out or quietly slips away, the result is the same. He learns—the hard way—that he’s lost someone, and something, wonderful.

The emotional turning point comes when the hero is ready to do anything to get her back. Even apologize.

In books, apologies—especially when a hero is trying to win back a heroine—are often grand, over-the-top events. In real life, they don’t need to be dramatic. They simply need to be sincere.

To be clear, I’m talking about apologies between people who care for one another—not public performances or blanket statements of culpability.  At its heart, an apology is an acknowledgement that you’ve hurt someone you care about. It’s an attempt to set the relationship back to a point of goodwill and to let the loved one know that—despite what you may have said or done to cause the hurt—you do love them.

There’s something else wonderful about real apologies. They are a way for the wounded person show their love for you by wiping the slate clean.  Sometimes a simple acknowledgement of the wrong and a smile of forgiveness is all it takes.  Sometime that slate has to be washed with tears. But when the tears dry they form a glue that binds the relationship together even more strongly because of the break.

Of course, it should go without saying that deliberate, repeated acts and words designed to hurt another can shatter healthy relationship to the point where no glue can repair the damage. A simply apology can’t—and shouldn’t—mend that kind of wound.

Most of us don’t mean to hurt the ones we love. When we do—even if we do it deliberately in a moment of anger—we hurt ourselves, too. When our heads cool, our hearts know the truth: our actions have put a relationship, and a person, that we love at risk. We’d do anything to take the hurt away. Isn’t it wonderful that the healing can begin with something as simple as those two lovely words?

Sometimes “I’m sorry” sounds a lot like “I love you.”

 

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