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Is It Ever Too Late To Tell Someone You Are Sorry?

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NO! It’s never too late. In the 12 steps program of AA, step 9 involves making direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Many religions have a process of atonement. As Marianne Williamson explains in The Shadow Effect book, the process of atoning or asking for forgiveness allows the shadow to be brought to the light and create healing for all parties. Recently I had a person from my past contact me on facebook from 27 years ago. I was 16 at the time I knew him. He apologized for hurting me back then and for having being a self centered jerk. I was surprised and it brought so much emotions out that I didn’t understand why I was reacting that way. After all, it’s been 27 years!

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In the book The Shadow Effect, Marianne Williamson writes, “Emotional pain is important, just as physical pain is. If you had a broken leg and it wasn’t painful, how would you know if needed to be reset? Physical pain is a way the body says, ‘Look at this. Care for this. Tend to this.’ And psychic pain is the same. Sometimes we need to say, ‘I need to tend to this pain. Why is it here? What is this situation trying to tell me? What part of myself do I need to address?’”

This opportunity allowed me to see what part of myself needed some healing. First, I allowed myself to feel the sadness and the relief of the emotions that were surfacing, but I still questioned myself why it could have such an effect on me. Was it because I’m holding on to the past? Was it because he meant so much to me at the time? Or was it because I had not completely healed that wound in my past? After pondering on this for a while, I realized that it was the 16 year old part of me who was still hurting and was finally being acknowledged. What happened to me in that relationship set off a series of events in my life of self destruction, self sabotaging behaviors and much shame and guilt. Was it his fault? Is he to blame? No. It was the decision I made that was so out of alignment with my true self and my values. I allowed someone to influence me even though I knew it wasn’t the right thing for me. The minute we are out of integrity with ourselves, we create pain and suffering. Haven’t you ever noticed that when you don’t follow your heart or your true self, you begin to feel unhappy. It could just be about your diet. If you eat something that goes against what you know is not good for your body, you most likely feel some guilt and shame that day about it. If you said yes to someone when you really meant no, you usually feel out of integrity and perhaps a bit resentful. When you take yourself out of alignment, you move yourself into a path of shame, guilt, resentment, and unhappiness.

In this instance, why would an apology from so long ago create such painful memories in the present moment? It’s not about what happened then so much as it is what is happening in the present that resembles the decision I made in the past. Where am I out of integrity now in my life and where do I still allow others to influence me when it is out of alignment with my true self? Those are the questions to ask.

Understanding why this brought on so much sadness helped me but the real gift was the amount of compassion I was able to feel for myself and knowing that the 16 year old part of me must have been so hurt and wounded to develop such self destructive coping mechanisms.

Why am I writing about this? I wanted to share this because I know that many of us may have not said we are sorry to someone we’ve hurt yesterday or many years ago and because it’s over, we think it doesn’t matter anymore. I say it matters a lot! Our physical bodies hold on to old wounds and emotions unless we release them. When someone atones their sins or comes forward with hurting you, it allows a space for that release and healing. Forgiveness of self and/or others is the biggest gift out there and someone or yourself is the biggest gift available. So, could you make a difference today by making amends to someone? What shadow part of you is keeping you from being able to do that? I’m so grateful that this person reached out to me and shared his feelings. It meant a lot more to me than I could ever have imagined. Give someone that gift today.

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