It’s easy to act against your own moral code, when you can’t see the immediate consequences of your actions, but when reality finally hits, so does the flood of guilt. Some will let it engulf them to the point of drowning, while others, rise above it, learn their lesson and move on. You get to choose which of these groups of people you fall into.
Acting out of self-interest is very human. Our concern is for our own survival and happiness and it takes altruism to get past that primal instinct of selfishness and do right by others. Most times are intentions are good, other times we fall short of that standard and hurt the people we care about, intentionally or otherwise. To reconcile this shortfall, we try to convince ourselves that they deserve it and brush it off as some kind of twisted justice, or we feel pretty bad about our actions. I’m talking about the latter, which is often coupled with a potentially irreparable falling out. How does anyone get past that?
These experiences are not uncommon, although we often hate to admit being at fault, the feeling of guilt can be too overwhelming to ignore. This is way past the point of pride and a sincere apology goes a long way to lifting some of the burden off your shoulders. If the apology is accepted, you have the opportunity to mend fences, only if that is also what the other party wishes. It may come as a shock that people don’t want anything to do with you, even after an apology. You are not entitled to a space in their life and shutting you our may serve as a therapy to them. If you feel the need to expressing how sorry you are over and over in order to make things right… Don’t. It’s both intrusive and disruptive of their own healing process and expecting the person you hurt to make you feel better is selfish and insensitive. Be satisfied with the fact that they have forgiven you. The nagging feeling to keep apologising has nothing to do with the offended party (who has already forgiven you by the way), and everything to do with your inability to let go of your guilt. It’s a personal problem.
Okay, I have a personal problem… So what now?
Before we get into that, one thing to bear in mind is that the person on the receiving end of your apology is under no obligation whatsoever to accept it, nevermind wanting to repair whatever damage to the relationship. They might tell you to f#?k off. If your apology is sincerely communicated, that should be enough to put your mind at ease. At this point, it’s really up to you to forgive yourself, claim your peace and move on.
You’ve already taken the first step by taking responsibility for your part in causing whatever pain or suffering to the other person. It’s really hard to get over this when you can still see the effects of what you did on someone else’s life, so stop watching. Being in the same spaces and preeing will be a constant reminder of what happened and won’t give you room to put it behind you. You may have behaved like a shitty person then, but that should not define the person you are or want to become going forward. Always remind yourself that you are very capable of doing good, and focus on doing just that. Noone can change the past so stop looking back and look around you. There will be countless opportunities to do good wherever you are, be it in your family, friendships, romantic relationship or your wider community. Treat those people right, give and show love the way you would want for yourself.
…and don’t do whatever shitty thing you did again.