The Journey Home Begins With ‘Sorry’ ~ on reconciliation and relationships

The journey home begins with “Sorry” ~ on reconciliation & relationships

I’m a great procrastinator when it comes to Christmas things. I object to anything remotely Christmas themed until at least advent and I’m seldom in the mood for festive frolics till mid month at the very soonest. This means that the majority of my preparations are crammed into seven to ten days. I count myself ahead if I have managed to get the tree up by the 20th. The thing I procrastinate the most about is the cards and until this year I wasn’t sure why. Usually I finish them and think, why did I put it off so long?

This year, as we moved in the autumn I needed to do a round robin letter (never done one before) to give our new address and a brief resume of the year. I don’t mind other people’s round robins, even though there’s a general loathing of them that gets expressed through the media (and social media) and apart from one that began, brace yourselves I’ve got leukaemia and went downhill from there, they’re usually nice to read. So equipped with a sheaf of printed letters I opened my address book and found my reason for hesitation.

As I leafed slowly through, I realised it was full of people, not merely names and addresses and some of them were no longer in my life.

Some had passed away. Those made me sad, but I had good memories of them.

Some have drifted away. That’s normal. Not all friendships are forever; they have their moments, a shared experience, and they decline. You have good memories, a smile when you think of them and usually a card at Christmas. Sometimes those are rekindled, and it’s as if nothing has ever happened.

And some are sundered from me.

Not many. I’ve been lucky generally that I don’t make enemies. But in most of our lives there are people who hurt us. Those who can hurt us are generally those we let in, and trust, and care about. And in turn, we too hurt others. Either inadvertently, or deliberately.

I’ve seen a good deal of discussion lately via social media about cutting people out of lives, both from those at the hard end of the cut and those wielding the knife. There’s a school of thought that has it that we should remove from our lives anyone who is seen as being negative or not what we need/want. I’ve heard of people recently who have been told they are being ‘let go’ by friends. It’s horrible, frankly, doubly so at the Christmas season of goodwill. We do not really know what another person has been going through, and to judge someone else as negative and needing weeding out of your life is bad enough, but to tell them so in such terms… To me, that is needlessly cruel and desperately selfish. This year I had two people do it to me.

But when it comes to broken relationships, ones where the hurt still smarts, the last words echo in your memory, even years later, what of those? You may think, their loss. Imagine then you find one day they have died. If you find yourself thinking, I wish I’d…., then perhaps there’s unfinished business left.

Some there is no way back with. You have no idea where they are, or how to find them. These are ones you have to leave in the lap of the gods. I have a few of those,and for those I may have hurt or who have hurt me, I can say simply, “I am sorry. I wish you well in your journey. I am here if you want to talk,” and hope that somehow those words may carry on the wings of quiet hope. There is great, unseen power in such prayerful words. Someone hears them, even if we speak them silently.

But others, we look at their names and we think, they must hate us, they’d never let me back in. It doesn’t matter which side of the hurting you were on, there is fear in an approach, a fear that our overtures will be rejected, opening the wounds again. Perhaps this time of year is the safest. One may send a card, knowing that if they tear it up you will never know. But it may pave the way towards a little dialogue later, the proverbial olive branch.

I do not wish to live in conflict with anyone. I would make my peace with all, and offer my ‘Sorry’ as a hand towards any soul with whom I am not in harmony with. Sorry for my part, for every relationship breakdown has two sides(or more) and no party is completely innocent.

May your Christmas be filled with peace and harmony.

15 thoughts on “The Journey Home Begins With ‘Sorry’ ~ on reconciliation and relationships

  1. Yes writing Christmas cards can be confronting! In one short year so much can change. The festive season has a way of shining a spotlight on our broken relationships. Perhaps its the ‘happy & perfect people’ myth that prevails at this time of year. I hope you have a great Christmas and it was wonderful to meet you this year. I’ll look forward to reading more of your writing in 2013!


  2. Thanks for sharing these thoughts.
    I had to cross out a few names of friends on my address list this year. They left no forward address a postman could hope to reach – friends and places gone from my life. But have they? I often only appreciate what was exchanged with people I met on my journey when the chapter is finished and no more instalments are due that feature the person or the place where we connected. As I move on, what can emerge on reflection is like a strange flower – a distillation – an essence – which lives on in me.
    And you are right, silent words travel, it’s never too late to say sorry, express gratitude, and make peace inside.


    • I truly hope so. There are folks who I would like to make peace with, but have no way of reaching & who would shove me away with insults if I tried. The sundering was not of my making but I would say sorry for any part of it I may have had.
      The words we speak are heard by someone. xx


  3. True words, these. I have cousins and an aunt no longer speaking to me. Issues around my late mother’s death, despite my abject apologies, they choose to hold a grudge. Their choice. I let go those who bring negative energy to my life. During my depression, while caregiving for my mom, they were predators. I hold to the good memories as a child, with extended family around and everyone having fun.


  4. Viv,

    I haven’t sent out Christmas cards this year. Last year’s cards were sent without a letter — for the first time in years. If I hadn’t had an address change (like you this year), I’m not sure I’d have made the effort.

    You are right when you say that we cannot know what another person is going through, or always what causes relationships to fall away. When it comes to myself, sometimes it hard to know what’s going on in my own heart and mind. I tell myself that I am blessed and proceed to name them: I’ve my health; enough food and a steady income to buy necessities; I’m on good terms with all four of my children and have a happy marriage; I’ve finally found a good church home; and the list goes on. But still, there is a loneliness or emptiness that comes over me, especially as Christmas draws near, that I cannot explain.

    But reading your words helped me this morning, and I wanted you to know that. Merry Christmas, Viv.



    • Thank you, Janell. It’s good to hear from old friends like you this time of year. I do know that sad emptiness and loneliness too. I don’t know whence it comes.
      May your Christmas be blessed.


  5. Very thoughtful post that resonated with me because I am estranged from most of my family. It is true that no party is completely innocent. I could have salvaged the relationship had I chosen to. I simply got tired of always being the “bigger person”. Some relationships are simply exhausting. My parents have repeatedly said I will be sorry when they are gone. My response? I’m sorry now – I’m sorry that they continue to think its okay to behave in despicable ways. It’s one thing to let a person go because of a single, solitary hurtful incident. It’s quite another to do so after decades of repeated injury. I did offer an olive branch this year which I know was received. There was no acknowledgement. I don’t want to live in conflict either but I think at some point you have to let yourself off the hook.


    • Thank you. Sounds like you have tried and tried, and time to stop trying.
      The ones I wonder about are people who decide unilaterally to walk away, and never offer closure. Bit like folks who decide to sort out their problems by completely disappearing, vanishing into thin air to start a new life, leaving people behind, bewildered and hurt. I can never quite understand that one, unless it involves witness protection schemes!! Yet people do it, I’ve come across folks who admit to having done it several times.
      yes, time to let yourself off the hook, I feel.
      nice to meet you.


  6. There’ll always be those with whom the break has been made and a bit of sadness or grief remains. I may light a candle for those, or just send them a loving thought … it’s never really too late even if they are no longer …


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