Humbling Human Kindness

I’m not very good with people. I wouldn’t consider myself to have a very high level of emotional intelligence or interpersonal communication skills. One of the reasons I love writing so much is because I feel like it gives me the ability to express myself in ways I am unable to verbally. I think I come off completely different on paper than I do in person.

I write about the importance of compassion, kindness, and connection. Yet in my personal life, I am far from living out those ideals. I think a lot of people view me as cold and uncaring. I suppose no one has ever told me this, so I could be wrong. But I would certainly get that impression if I was on the outside looking at myself. I am always so distant. I say I care, but never seem to show it. I have a very hard time showing it.

The twenty-first century phenomenon of ghosting seems like it was made for people like me. Knowing it has a name makes it feel more acceptable somehow, even though I know it’s not. It is so much easier to simply disappear for days, months, years, or even forever instead of having those hard conversations. Sometimes it isn’t even that. I just feel weighed down by the imaginary obligation to be in constant contact with those I consider friends. It is a strange new form of anxiety that I don’t even really understand myself.

Well, that being said, at the beginning of this pandemic, I woke up from a care-free night of drinking with a close male friend. We had been hanging out regularly for over a year and we had become very important people in one another’s lives. For some reason, something just clicked inside of me that hung-over morning, and I proceeded to not talk to him for nearly six months. No explanation besides “needing space”. He tried to check in on me multiple times throughout the beginning of this period, which caused me so much guilt and anxiety that I finally asked him to stop.

I basically knew this friend was in love with me even though I didn’t feel the same, which was one reason I felt the need to vanish. However, I know what it feels like to be ghosted by someone you deeply care about. It sucks. It makes you feel desperate for answers. Desperate to at least be afforded the dignity of an explanation. It makes you feel worthless. And it killed me inside to think I had made anyone, let alone a close friend, feel this way.

A few weeks ago, I finally managed to muster up the courage to at least send him a text apologizing and letting him know that he had done nothing wrong. He said it was okay. I left it at that. I didn’t dare say anything else. I couldn’t image he would want anything to do with me anymore. I just needed him to know he shouldn’t blame himself for what had happened.

Yesterday he sent me another message, asking if we could go back to talking and being friends again now. I was shocked. But so happy. I had been thinking of him so much recently, missing our friendship. I just felt so sure that I didn’t deserve that friendship anymore, nor did I have the right to ask for it after how I had acted. Yet he was still there. Willing to forgive me and accept me with open arms.

Thinking about this earlier nearly brought me to tears. I generally have a pretty bleak view of humanity, but there are times when I am completely humbled by the human ability to forgive and to touch the lives of others. To know that he could find it in his heart to forgive me when I wasn’t even able to forgive myself. What could be more beautiful? Maybe I am not as irredeemable as I thought. Maybe I am worthy of forgiveness, of love, of kindness, despite all of my faults and all of my mistakes.

I don’t have very many close friends in my life. From now on I am going to work harder to be the friend that they deserve and show them how grateful I am for everything that they have given and continue to give to me. I won’t forget this lesson, this feeling, of a deeply humbling moment of undeserved forgiveness.

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