Those were the words that I said to my high school boyfriend, right before I left for college and promptly cheated on him. I meant it at the time, but somehow, distance and the stress of loneliness led me out of his arms and into the warm bed of someone else.
It's been, Oh God, I don't even know... 15 years, and I still go over that decision in my head with remorse, not because we were meant to be, or anything like that, but because I plunged a knife right into his loving, trusting back.
My past wrongdoings pop up in my head all the time. Recorded moments that play over and over again, the ghosts of my past jackassedness. I think of all the ways I could have handled myself better to save the feelings of the people that I've hurt along the way, and, as penance, I have committed myself to moments where I lay in bed, over-analyzing situations that I cannot go back and change.
Why did I say those things and act that way to that random waitress two years ago?
That person didn't deserve the way I treated them fifteen years ago, so let's have a random pang of guilt about it while shopping for groceries.
You were such a bitch. Why were you such a bitch?
I stand in the shower, shampooing my hair and hating myself for that time when I acted erratically and lashed out at friends who didn't deserve it. I drop the kids off at school, my mind wandering off to words that I said that I didn't mean. I can never go back in time, and so, I don't know how to move on. I think about these things so often that I now have a confirmation bias and I only see the bad behavior and not the good. In those moments, I feel like a truly horrible human being.
I honestly want to do the My Name is Earl thing and apologize to everyone I've ever wronged, but I could never track down all the people I've betrayed, insulted or demoralized throughout my entire 32 years on the planet. If I hunted for every person I've rubbed the wrong way, it would engulf my life, instead of just passing thoughts. That would be insane, right? I mean, at this point, I've been so insane in my past that I can smell insane on an idea. At least I recognize it now, instead of just acting with my emotions and going to jail for stalking.
Let's be honest, if I did try to track people down, the apologies wouldn't be for them, they would be for me. They've moved on with their lives and I haven't. All it would do is allow me to unburden myself and that would be selfish of me.
Instead, I have decided that what I need to do is just forgive myself and try to let it go.
Amy, those people have moved on with their lives, and you deserve to move on with yours. The remorse in your heart shows that you are a good person and if you could, you would right those wrongs. But you can't. Those moments happened and they are behind you, but you needed them to happen. You've learned from them and grown from the seeds of those lessons. You are a GOOD person, and even good people make mistakes.
I forgive you.
What do YOU have to forgive yourself for, dear reader?