Let me ask you a question. Do you think you are a good person? It seems like it should be an easy question to answer. I suspect that, like me, most folks think they are basically decent. This afternoon I was out running errands and, alone in the car, my mind decided to remind me of every trashy, mean, spiteful or thoughtless thing I have ever done.
Memory is a weird and wonderful thing. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday or why I just walked into the kitchen but I can remember every boy I ever sucked face with knowing full well he had a girlfriend; every debt never repaid; every time I said I couldn’t simply because I did not want to. How can these possibly be the actions of a GOOD person?
I spun out for a while as I drove. I grew up in a house where many of the few good foundations were based on the 12 Step program of AA. So I was thinking that maybe I should skip right to Step 8, making amends. I imagined sitting down and writing notes/emails of apology to people I know I have hurt over the years. If I started today I would probably done before I hit the retirement home. “Dear SoandSo, when I was 24 I kissed your boyfriend. I can’t sleep and night because of it. Please share my trauma with me.”
Fortunately before I started picking out the stationary the good, hard work of my therapist began to kick in. It’s true. I am no angel. In my life I have hurt people. I have done things I am not proud of, heck I have done things I am down right ashamed of. But does that make me a bad person? The really simple answer is no. What it makes me is a human person.
The beautiful, talented and incredibly wise Maya Angelou said “When we know better we do better.” And I have to believe that is true. I have to believe that I have grown, learned, fallen and picked myself back up. I have to believe that wanting to be a better person is in a way it’s own redemption. I am sorry for the things I did that hurt people. Those things hurt me too. I was acting from a place of pain, using coping mechanisms that ultimately made things worse not better. I was trying to fill my life with SOMETHING. I wanted to be loved so desperately. I had no idea of my own worth nor could I see past my own pain long enough to care what damage I was doing to people around me.
If you see yourself in my words please forgive yourself. If you are someone I hurt, please know I am truly sorry and I am trying every day to become a better person. A blanket apology is not the same as making amends I know. If you believe you are owed more, I am here and my metaphoric door is always open.