Do you ever look back and regret something? Whether it’s something you did or said?
And when I say regret, I mean sincerely regret it?
I do. Several things in fact. Most live, and stay living, in the past. But one or two, recently have decided to make themselves a nuisance. One, in particular, has been playing on my mind for a couple of weeks now.
During my first couple years at university, I was seeing a girl. She was smart, funny, feisty, and downright cute. She really liked me and I really liked her. But there was a problem: Me.
I liked her but was too afraid of what that meant. I worried about how it would work with me being from another part of the country and just being there during term time. I worried about what her mother would say (both her and her mother worked with me at my then job). I also worried what it would mean if we fell for each other and I finished uni.
That’s a lot for a 21-year-old guy to think about. It’s also mad.Because
Because the truth is I shouldn’t worry about any of that stuff (except the mother – she was a little scary). I should have grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
Instead, I let fear and panic consume me and my thoughts. I let my fears dictate how I acted and, most ashamedly, how I treated her. Now, I never set out to hurt her, nor did I intend to do what I did. But I still did it. And I 100% regret it – to this day I wish I could go back ad change what I did.
But I can’t. Instead, I have to accept that I was responsible for really hurting someone, emotionally.
When we were together, things were amazing, we got on, liked the same things, and it was fun. But I never let myself open up, I never gave myself to her or entertained the idea of it becoming more than just two people hanging out. To compound that, every now and then, I get scared, over think everything (without realising it at the time) and then let the fear guide me into pushing her away.
I did this a lot until it got to a point where we really got close and were in danger of making it a full blown relationship and accepting our feelings. At that point, I freaked out. Majorly. And pushed her so far away it all but ended our friendship. I just couldn’t deal with it. I imagine I would regret it less if I’d explained all that to her at the time, but like I said, I was unaware of what I was doing and was acting out of fear. That’s not an excuse, I’m simply saying how it was. And the truth is that I did not take into consideration how he felt. I simply ran away and hid from the feelings I was starting to have.
I’ve thought alot about that time of my life recently, especially since realising how badly i can over think things. I’ve always regretted my actions and how I treated her, but only recently have I really understood why I did what I did.
When I realised what I’d done and how I’d made her feel, I felt a huge wave of guilt and shame wash over me. To the point where I just had to do something. We do keep in irregular contact still, a few messages a year to see how the other is doing – casual friendship. But I had this serious urge to apologise to her and try to explain.
However, the over thinking is still a problem and I began to worry that bringing it up might actually do more harm than good, in that she may have moved on completely and by bringing it up, I’d actually be causing her more pain.
So I started to doubt whether I should say anything at all. Just as this doubt was about to settle in for the long haul, something very strange happened…
Last Friday morning, whilst at work, I received a text from an unknown number. It simply said “Hey 🙂 x”
To which I responded with a generic request for the person name as the number was not recognised by my phone.
At this point, i became anxious because I was not sure who it was. I was worried that if it was (E) I wouldn’t know how to deal with the situation, but part of me really wondered if it was my old friend. But it was too much of a coincidence, surely?!
I got a reply that confirmed my gut feeling, a message that simply used the term ‘Dan Dan’. It sounds silly, but this name has always been used by her when talking to me. No one else in my entire life has used it. So the minute I read that I knew it was her. The coincidence of this was not lost on me.
So, we text most of the day, just catching up. Which was a nice change of pace – it’s not every day you get to reconnect with an old friend!
Here’s the strange thing: When I asked her why she messaged me, that day of all days, she told me that she’d dreamt of me. That when she woke up Friday morning, she felt a strong urge to see how I was doing in case I needed help. I know, weird right?!
The thing is, it was a dream that gave me the urge to message her and apologise. But just when I was faltering and beginning to doubt that urge, she messages me completely out of the blue. It’s hard not to see the role of pre-determination there. It’s simply too much of a coincidence.
So, I plucked up the courage to offer an apology. I went through it all. And just told her I was sorry. Sorry for what I did and how I treated her. That I was not looking for anything, I simply wanted to apologise and let her know I was sorry.
I half expected her to shout at me. To be angry. But she just chuckled. And then explained that she forgave me years ago. Because she went through something similar after me, and that person also told her the same thing. When they told her that, she realised it was what I did and whilst she was still hurt she understood. And it made it easier knowing I’d genuinely not set out to hurt her.
It made a potentially difficult situation a very easy one to deal with.
So we laughed about it, I apologised some more, and then simply got on with our catch up. She offered me some advice about my situation and how it wasn’t hopeless, that if I was able to be positive about it, I could get past it! Funny thing is, it took her telling me that for me to realise it.
It’s a funny thing, but I was just in the right place to hear those words from someone when she told me that. I think it also hit home more knowing that this was a girl I’d wronged, someone I’d really hurt once upon a time, and yet she still supported me and wanted to see me get through this.
It was nice having a conversation with someone where there was no pressure. I felt no worries about what I was saying or how she would take it. She’s moved on and is seeing someone else, and I’ve obviously moved on too which was refreshing. We can just enjoy the friendship and, from my point of view, it’s nice to have that closure too!
Since then, we’ve spoken a little, and there was one thing she said that really hit me: “you’re just as kind as I remember”…
It’s such a small compliment. But, as a person who prides himself on being kind and respectful, to hear someone, who has every reason not to think that about me, say those words to me – well, let me tell you that it was just about one of the nicest things I’ve ever had said to me. It also confirmed to me that I am actually a nice person. That all this self-doubt (particularly the past few months) has all been for nought. Because I am a nice person. And my sense of pride is not as misplaced as I thought.
This whole weekend has really helped prop me up a little, I’ve regained some of my happiness, some hope that actually I might just make it through this.
My point, albeit a very long winded one, is simple: Never underestimate the worth of a friend – no matter who that friend is. Our conscience is a powerful thing – but giving it closure is a wonderful medicine. I can focus a little better – even if it’s only for the time being!