But I Said I’m Sorry

I treat emotional wounds like the breadcrumbs you sweep under the refrigerator when no one else is looking. Eventually, though, the fridge has to be moved for cleaning and there’s an even bigger mess to clean up that makes you wonder why you couldn’t have take a few extra moments to sweep up the rest of the crumbs and put them in the trash.

It’s like waiting for a wound to get infected before finally deciding to put a band-aid over it.

Time is supposed to heal all wounds. Time has not healed all my wounds, only lessened the pain, but it hasn’t dulled the memories. Pain is a memory. I might not forgive, I don’t hold a grudge, but I never forget. I don’t forget the feeling of betrayal, I don’t forget a forgotten birthday, and I will never forget the feeling of shock I felt after making plans with a significant other only to discover he had gone out of town without me. So many fights have ended with me crawling into bed crying my eyes out and begging him to tell me he’s sorry for hurting me.

But I never said those words. My mom used to say being sorry meant never doing the same thing over. I think that’s unrealistic. Humans are always going to hurt you. The problem is an unwillingness to admit to hurting. The number of relationships I’ve had has taught me less about love and more about what love is not.

Love is not guarded. I don’t believe love acts foolishly and takes unnecessary risks, either. When we hurt someone and refuse to acknowledge their pain, we risk losing someone forever. Love isn’t careless, and I have handled too many relationships carelessly. Saying sorry doesn’t let the other person know you’ve caused them pain. It’s a way of owning up to your actions. Vulnerability is implicit when loving another person. Love involves a certain kind of defenselessness. It’s opening up wounds to another person to let them know, Hey, you’re not alone.

This kind of thing is usually done in support groups, or between strangers. For some inexplicable reason, it’s somehow easier to pour your heart out to strangers. Maybe this goes to show how much we fear being judged, or losing someone else’s esteem all together. There’s nothing at stake with a stranger. The worst a stranger can do is walk away, and you’ll never see them again.

But you feel better for having told them.

Hurt hides in the deepest places. When someone says you’ve hurt them, they take the defensive. The opposite is letting down the walls long enough and becoming defenseless in front of them. There’s no guarantee the other person will care. My own experience has taught me that the other person has rarely, if ever, cared. It’s no wonder none of them have worked out. For me, it’s not really about how I think I deserve to be treated. It’s about how I can keep living with myself at the end of the day.

I’m the last person who wants to look back and see myself as broken. I don’t feel empowered by the number of times I’ve had to leave a relationship and start my life over again. I feel drained, used, and washed out. I fall into hopelessness. I get angry about how much time I’ve invested in doomed relationships. There’s nothing about any of them that makes me want them back, but there’s a part of me that mourns my old self, that wishes I would have cherished the innocence of never having been hurt in the first place. Nothing short of a miracle or a lobotomy would have changed the outcome. I don’t wonder if one thing would have been different, would it all be different. The truth I’ve had to accept is that most people, myself included, can’t or won’t be defenseless around the people they love the most out of fear of losing them or a part of ourselves forever.

There is not much about a person’s real self that makes them lovable. I’m not talking about flaws or shortcomings. I’m talking about the unchangeable aspects of a person’s soul, their scars and their stories, the things we will always remember them by. It’s one thing to know someone is proud or arrogant, and it’s another to understand where the arrogance comes from, and whether or not we think it’s justified. Love is incredibly evaluative.

There’s no chance of ever judging whether or not we love someone, until we know, exactly, what it is about them we are choosing to love.