Civility and manners,  Friendship and relationship advice

When “I’m sorry” isn’t enough

“If one by one we counted people out

For the least sin, it wouldn’t take us long

To get so we had no one left to live with.

For to be social is to be forgiving.” ~ Robert Frost

If you’ve ever offended a grudge-bearer, you know exactly how it feels to be unforgiven. The error you committed is chained forever to your ankle, and your relationship with the grudge-bearer is compromised, to say the least.

Many years ago, I deeply disappointed a family member by forgetting to attend a Sunday dinner she’d invited my husband and me to attend. Stressed and way overbooked at the time, I had forgotten to write the date of the dinner on our kitchen calendar — so we missed it. Of course, I was totally mortified when our relative called to ask why we didn’t show up.

My husband and I apologized up and down to the angry hostess. We admitted our mistake. We didn’t try to justify it or make flimsy excuses. Being a family member, she couldn’t cross us out of her life entirely, but our relationship never fully recovered from the damage. And while I did my very best to make it up to her — hosting her in our home for many family dinners after that — she never invited my husband and me to dinner again, unless we were part of a larger family event.

I’ve thought a lot about the concept of forgiveness since then. And here’s the reality: Some people won’t forgive you. Sometimes you have to move on, and the toughest part might be learning how to forgive yourself. ~CL

Throughout my career, I've worked as a book production editor, travel magazine editor, features writer, and weekly newspaper columnist. My award-winning lifestyles features and essays have appeared in many national magazines and anthologies, including Newsweek, Reader's Digest, The Christian Science Monitor, Writer's Digest, Victoria, Better Homes & Gardens, Bella Grace, and more. My weekly Sunday "Life Lines" column ran for 14 years in The Daily Tribune (Royal Oak, MI) and won a First Place (Local Columns) award from the Michigan Press Association. My essay collection, Writing Home, includes 93 previously published columns and essays focusing on parenthood and family life.

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