Everyday I am amazed by Facebook, Linked-in, My Space, etc. In the past few months I have had bunches of people contact me after finding me on-line after many years. And the sites make it so easy to just fire off an email, say hello, check in. I have had several lives since leaving my small hometown and met people all along the way that now live in far flung places doing all sorts of interesting work that keeps them busy. These sites make it easy for me to keep track of people that are important to me, one of my favorite activities.
Today I got a message I wasn't expecting from an ex-boyfriend who at one time was very important to me. The relationship was on again off again several times through a number of years, most recently just as I was starting business school. I went to visit him before my classes started. A year before he had been through a harrowing experience that really changed him in every way possible and I was anxious to know that he was okay. And then, nothing. He didn't return my calls, emails, or text messages deposite several amazing visits. He just faded away. And the hole that he left in my life, again, was soon filled by someone else. This is the story of my life, as one person or experience or past time fades away, another comes in to take that place. Throughout business school I thought of him often and hoped that he was okay. I let him go because I thought maybe I was a reminder of a life he used to have and could never have again, for a whole host of reasons.
I had a boss once who taught me a lesson that has stuck with me. "You have to let people apologize." And when someone had harmed us and then is ready for forgiveness, then we should do our best to meet them halfway. My former boss used to say, "If someone has the courage to apologize, then we should have the courage to forgive them." I am still not sure which one is harder.
On my Facebook today, my ex-boyfriend sent me a message to say he was sorry and he understood if I didn't want to keep in touch, but he'd like me to. I haven't responded yet. Truth be told, I have not held any kind of grudge against him for fading away this last time. We have fought so much in the past and I have been so angry with his irresponsibility, lack of concern, and inability to communicate that I just couldn't be angry anymore - it took too much energy to be upset with him. I had outgrown the anger. There were so many times in the years since I first met him that he had such glimpses of "wonderfulness." His potential for love for so high and yet he never rose to the occasion. Never. He could exhibit wonderful qualities; he just couldn't sustain them. He just wasn't built that way.
And despite the many downs of our relationship that have far outnumbered the highs, I still have great hope. Not for us - all of those feelings I used to have for him are long since gone. I have great hope for him - that he will grow into the wonderful man I would see from time to time, that someday he will lose his ego and his attitude and exchange them for the compassion, and warmth, and kindness that I know he is capable of. I think his note of apology was a good first step, finally, in the right direction. It showed real courage, and I'm happy to match it. I think my former boss would be proud, of both of us.