Got a surprise package in the mail yesterday. It was a bundle of old letters that I’d written to a former beau (D). This particular guy I dated, off-and-on, for about 7 years.
At first I was delighted. The silly little cards, odd stationary, the doodles drawn in the margins and the photos (yah, this was all back in the stone ages when long-distance romances had to be carried out in paper and not via email or voice messenging). Fun.
But then I was horrified–for awhile I had, um…ditched D in favor of a mutual friend. The ditch was mean and purposeful. And I gloated about in my letters to D afterwards. (Ok…I have to say here that the ditch was short-lived and D and I were soon back together, but I was, nevertheless, quite cruel in my letters.)
So, hoping to feel some sense of redemption, I mentioned to John that I thought I had changed a lot since I was 16. I made the comment hoping for a bit of validation. Something along the lines, of “Yah, you’re nothing like that nowadays.”
Instead, John said something more like: “Jana, you can be completely self-centered. You think the world revolves around you.” [Note to readers: John’s comment sounds tough here, perhaps given the context–he’s actually a super-supportive husband. But he’s also good at guiding me through moments of self-introspection].
That stung. But deservedly so. I realized that I hurt people every day through my self-absorption. I have a huge ego. I am cocky and smug. My little jabs at D about the other guy might be old news now, but I do similar things all the time. Like answering emails while my kids are begging for my attention, continuing painful threads of conversation w/John even after he asks me to stop, not giving extended family members attention until I need something from them, dominating conversations with my opinons, taking over meetings where I’m not in charge, asking others to do errands for me that I can do myself, etc.
So, for all those people out there that I hurt with my selfishness, I’m sorry. I can’t erase awful things like the foolish letters I wrote 20 years ago, or undo the biting comments, or take back my moments of inflated self-importance.
For those whom I have hurt, please accept my apology…I’m sorry. I’m sorry to have caused you pain. I promise to do better. To be less self-focused. Less of a drama queen/ heartbreaker/ selfish person.
And to D: thanks for the letters and the CDs (such memories!). Thanks for not holding it against me. :)