And the text messages were bouncing between us.
They seemed benign enough.
And read something like
“Looking forward to catching up!”
“Oh, so I just remembered, I’ve got an appointment.”
“So, I might be able to speak to you later. Or I have twenty minutes now.”
(Sort of joking)
I cannot be squeezed into a twenty minute slot”.
“No you’re not”.
“No I’m not, what?”
And that was it!
Like a bullet to my heart, the truth exploded.
I WAS NOT SORRY!
I was SO not sorry!
And from some old, deep, gnarly place within, a volcano erupted!
And a huge rage came bursting forth.
It caught me by surprise.
I’m normally pretty easy going.
But not this time.
One minute I’m sitting quietly on the side of my bed texting a friend. The next I’m a speeding locomotive, racing down a winding mountain track.
The brakes have failed.
It’s hurtling forward – out of control.
I’m feeling mad. So mad.
And the question arises, comes screaming at me.
“Why do you say you are sorry?”
And all of the different times I’ve said it, come rushing back.
Embarrassed by the behaviour of someone I’m with, I’ve apologised for them.
At the supermarket, knocked by a stranger and their trolley, I’ve said ‘I’m sorry’.
I walk to approach a colleague at their work desk,
‘Sorry for the interruption’.
Small, seemingly insignificant, sorry’s.
But all born out of back-peddling and fear.
And then came all the sorry’s I’ve heard over the years.
The person, who instead of asking to pass me, bumps and pushes me aside. As they move away I’m left with their half-hearted, ‘Sorry’.
The hurtful comments, hastily mopped up with a half smile
“I’m sorry. It was just a joke!”.
The outright lies, the big betrayals, the long reaching let downs – all accompanied by a pitiful crumpling of the eyebrows and prefaced with … ‘Sorry’.
They are remembered now.
And are raging anew.
All the pain. The pretending.
All the times I’d acted like ‘Sorry’ was enough.
All the times I needed a real apology, and it never came.
But anger, as we know, changes – it twists and turns upon itself – and suddenly I find myself sliding, slipping deeper into its fold.
I’m seeing how little I ask of others, and just how available I make myself.
I see how resentful I sometimes feel when others get what they want, while I let my own needs go by the wayside.
And I get madder – at myself.
For always slotting in, for being so damn flexible.
For not speaking up, for not stating my truth, when I need to, when it’s time.
I sit with it all.
The agitation, the rage, the misery.
And when the initial roar and sting begin to subside, I see beneath my rage a vast and empty landscape. And within it, sits a large, still lake.
It is a lake full of disappointment.
Of old abandonment.
Of ultimate disregard.
And I also see, sitting there, alone, beside its banks, a child. She has a face as desolate and melancholy as the land around her.
And inside me, somehow I know, that it is her loneliness and her neglect, that have fuelled this rage.
So I sit down beside her.
For a long time.
And I listen to her heart.
She is quiet.
Unaccustomed to being heard, she wriggles her toes in the dust, averts her eyes.
And when she finally speaks, it is a whisper.
She feels small.
She grew up with threats and violent storms all around her.
She never felt safe.
No one noticed her, answered her cries for help.
So she became silent.
And eventually she left – fled to the relative peace, yet emptiness of this barren place.
It was such a long time ago.
She is lonely.
And she is still afraid.
I watch her draw patterns in the dirt beside her.
I realise that in her tiny hands, she holds the tools that could dig us both out of this underworld of wounding and despair.
That my big-ness could help make her bold, that her gentle spirit could help soothe the scars and scratches on my angry soul.
We realise, that if we walk together, we could move away from this land of endless longing, loneliness and lack. That we can share the journey and draw on the strength of our combined insights and experience.
That we could make our way back, together, towards the light.
The storm passed, as they do.
It blew in, blew up and blew over.
And I was left to mop up the mess.
The damage thankfully was not so big.
But the shock of it left a shudder in my world.
It had opened up some big, old wounds.
But in a group I subsequently lead, and in conversations with my friends, it has opened up opportunities for us to address our anger, to explore our experiences of insincerity, and to share the secret inner landscapes where our anxious thoughts and fears abide.
It has created space for sincere apologies.
For beautiful, healing moments and a sharing of heart-felt humility and honesty.
And it has reunited me with a sweet and sensitive part of myself that this rogue rage might otherwise have further repelled.
The text messages lead onto conversations.
And the conversations lead onto greater respect and heart openings for us all.
There was no blaming or shaming.
Just a sense of deeper love, the rich reward of compassion, and a clear re-commitment to honour my choice –
to know and speak