I’m sorry. I’m sorry for not making time, for not caring, for distancing myself and then complaining about it. I used work as an excuse. “I’m too busy. I’m too tired. Not today. I have other things; I’m sorry.” I justified to myself, “I never read that book. I never watched that movie. I have nothing in common with this conversation. That’s the way it is; I’m sorry.”
No, now I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all the times I let myself miss out. I’m sorry for all the times I complained behind your backs about how close we used to be instead of living in the moment. And most of all, I’m sorry for all the times I used the same two words I’m overusing now to turn you down. I wasn’t really sorry then.
I am now.
I’m sorry for expecting you to give what I wouldn’t give myself. I expected friendships to bloom without my effort; to grow and to thrive, or at least to stay the same, even though I did nothing to feed them. Complaining became my natural way of expressing my frustration. But you never knew I was complaining; I always put on a happy face and acted like I wasn’t bothered. I held this inside of me, and that is what I am most sorry about.
I’m sorry for letting a trivial difference between us fester inside of me. I never physically separated myself from you, but mentally I did. Emotionally I did. And even though I still ate lunch in the same spot with the same smile at the conversations I didn’t understand, I was really far away. And that showed; I know it did. Slowly our friend group went from cramming around one table to sitting at two, and I found myself at the smaller one. The quiet table where sometimes we conversed, but more often than not we studied for the next test or read books to ourselves. A few feet to the right were stories and jokes, but I was on the left and content to be there. Or at least comfortable. Or at least what I thought was comfortable.
But now you don’t tell me the important things. I still feel like I could tell you anything and you would listen; like we are still the group of nerdy kids in our favorite teacher’s ninth grade class and there are no secrets between us. Then I learn you have a boyfriend because you mention him in the conversation I haven’t understood for a while now. Then I learn your parents are divorced because of some off-hand comment between sentences in math. Suddenly I remember the way I’ve felt the past few months and think to myself, “Of course. They don’t tell me these things because they’ve changed and I don’t know how to relate to them anymore.”
I’m sorry for pinning it all on you. You’ve done nothing, really. When it comes down to it, I’m the one who changed the most from ninth grade to now. I’m the one who wasn’t there when you all bonded over pizza and a RomCom while I pled “too tired” and went home. So let me reshape my self-pity into something more true: “Of course. They don’t tell me these things because I’ve changed and they don’t know how to relate to me anymore. I’m not too busy, I’m too preoccupied with myself.” Part of me still wants things to go back to the way they were, but I know now more than ever that we can’t go back. The only place to move is forward.
As I let my thoughts jumble themselves into the paragraphs of this apology letter, I have to take a moment to say this: I’m sorry for addressing this letter to you when it’s written for me. I can apologize to you all but in the end my actions didn’t hurt you. My withdrawing from you didn’t stop you from having a good time, and honestly I’m glad of that. Because if I had hurt you, right now I would be writing two apology letters and wasting all the time I should be spending with you to make up for what I’ve been missing. The truth is that I’ve written this whole long thing to say I’m sorry to myself. I’m sorry for not believing that I could change with the rest of you.
The good news is that I believe now. More than that, I know that I can work hard and become a part of your lives again. I can participate in your conversations and try to make sense of it all by reading the books you are discussing. For now that might mean reading something I was never interested in, but maybe sometime you’ll return the favor and invest time in things important to me. I could complain that you never watch romances with me and I always have to watch sci-fi instead, but that would be a lie. A blatant justification. You love sci-fi and I’ve never watched it with you, so how could I expect you to watch romances with me?
I’m to the point where I’ve realized your friendship is more important than the things we do together. If they are wholesome things, there is no reason for me to not be enjoying them with you. So I’m sorry for ever blaming this whole mess on you.