Hey! Watch me kick my own ass.
I blew it.
I mean I really, really, ROYALLY screwed up.
I missed my best friend’s dad’s funeral.
Ugh. Can you even? I sure as hell can’t even.
I have been properly flogging myself for days. And because that has made them some of the most intolerable days of my life (and I have had some epically shit days) I want to tell you how I am getting through it, so that when you screw up, you’ll have these little gems in your jewelry box.
I realized my gaffe while casually texting with one of my other friends who mentioned the funeral, which she HAD attended just hours prior.
“OH MY GOD. I texted back. OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. I missed it!”
“Oh, honey, I’m sorry,” she texted back. (It was not strange that she didn’t know I missed the funeral because there were three parts to the service…and I could have attended a part she didn’t.) “I should have reminded you.”
“No.” I texted back. “Thank you, but this is on me. I am just sick. I’m going to call her.”
I called my best friend. The friend I have adored since we were five years old. Since the day she accidentally ruined my brand new Avon lip gloss by putting the cap back on without winding the gloss back into the base. She felt so horrible that she went home and told her mom, and the next day she brought me a replacement lip gloss. It was a black Chapstick, (y’know, grandpa flavor?), which was nothing like my wonderfully cherry-scented lip gloss encased in a super fun plastic ice cream cone. But her sincerity and remorse touched my little heart, and I knew right then she was the finest person I had ever met. Still is. So, yeah. I forgot HER dad’s funeral. (The next-finest person I have ever met.)
One sec. I’m gonna quick bash my head against the wall.
It’s been like this ever since I learned of my mistake. (Or soul-murdering f*ck up). I start bawling when I least expect it. But it’s not the loud, whaling kind. My eyes just interrupt whatever I’m doing by randomly producing water. It’s like Demi Moore from Ghost had a crybaby with Diane Keaton from Something’s Gotta Give.
And it sucks.
Plus I’m extremely disappointed that I missed the funeral. I wanted to pay my sincere respects, see my friend’s mom, who I love, her amazing daughters, my other childhood friends, and so many people from my past. Then there’s the part where I’m worried something is wrong with my brain. How else could I have committed the unfathomable? Clearly, something is horribly amiss up there. I literally keep thinking I am going to wake up from a nightmare. I’m trying to will it so. It’s simply unbelievable that I could have forgotten such an important day. A day I can’t get back. A slap in my friend’s face. Or worse, a neglectful act of apathy. But it’s not that. I wouldn’t feel this desperately terrible if I didn’t care so much. Which I do. I am going a bit nuts, I gotta admit.
But I can’t stay in this place, and I promised some healing gems so here’s how I’ve been coping. (Barely.)
The second I realized what happened I called my friend to apologize (via voicemail) and also sent a text. Next, I called my sister to tell her what happened and take accountability. My sister reminded me how I supported my friend during her dad’s final days and told me to acknowledge the positives. Then she sent me an article about a guy who committed a similar “crime” who advises: realize you’re not alone. Next, I put my tennies on and headed out the door to move. (Sunshine, nature, and exercise are healing.) As I walked I DEMANDED that Siri find me some podcasts on how to practice self-forgiveness. I heard on said podcasts that when a person goofs they should accept that they are human and admit fallibility. I also heard that feeling like a jackass is okay as long it’s “the appropriate amount of wince.” (Love that.) Then I heard one that made me laugh…so please allow yourself some laughter. It’s a respite from the self-hate tornado. The funny guy said, “Embrace your humanity when you err, don’t whip yourself like some crappy jockey.” This next one is gold, “Too much self-flagellation is egotistical,” (Whoa.) Beware, if you’re marinating in a me-stew. And whatever you do, don’t do it alone. Guilt turns to shame that way, and shame thrives in the dark. Ewww. Finally, “Take the best friend test,” said the aforementioned article from my sister. “If your best friend did the same thing, would you forgive them?” Hell yes! In fact, I would do everything in my power to make her feel better.
Which is exactly what MY best friend did. She called me back that night and said, “Are you okay? Your message sounded like you were going to vomit.” “I am so, so sorry,” I barely spit out. “Get over it,” she said. “I am only calling to tell you I am okay, and that it was a beautiful service.” See? Finest human. While I didn’t feel I deserved her graceful handling of the situation, I was glad she was alright. So, I choked back my emotion, which felt like daggers in my throat, and obliged, because she wanted me to, and I owed her that.
I also owed something to myself (and the world). I needed to get curious about WHY it happened. So, I started looking for clues. And I noticed some things I’d been doing recently that were out of the ordinary. 1.) Taking mid-day naps. 2.) Not looking both ways before I crossed the street. (???) 3.) Neglecting to put things on my calendar. (Like my friend’s dad’s funeral.) But WHY was I doing those things? I won’t get too real here, but I will say I’ve been worrying more than usual lately and I learned that, women especially, tend to take on too much “emotional labor” which can be exhausting (naps) and cause them to let things slip through the cracks (their safety and important dates). For all I know this was a cosmic wake-up call to say, “Hello? You’re gonna get hit by a car!” which would really hurt my friend, my family, the driver, all the driver’s people, oh, and me…who despite my recent blunder, doesn’t deserve more suffering. (Right?)
Here’s what I know so far: My apology will never make up for my mistake, just like the black Chapstick didn’t make up for the cherry lip gloss. But all I cared about in that moment was my friend’s heart, and all she cared about in this moment was mine.
We’re gonna hurt each other. It’s inevitable. But I’ve learned that the real mistake is wallowing in the damage instead of moving into the repair.
That’s gonna take me a minute. This one really stings…so I’ll add patience to the jewelry box.
Wear it all well, friends.
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