At times we need to mend a rift; perhaps one we ourselves inadvertently caused. Often, a simple yet heartfelt apology will suffice; other times it won’t, and the person is not moved to forgive. An uncomfortable feeling, indeed.
One reader, who wishes to remain anonymous, asks:
“What if you’ve apologized genuinely and the person won’t relent, won’t forgive, stays angry and won’t acknowledge you – to the point of ignoring your attempts at email and phone calls? Then what? I can’t cut off my arm or give up an organ. Where do you go from an honest, sincere, heartfelt apology? Unless staying angry is simply where she wants to stay? Any pearls of wisdom would be really appreciated. This could cost a budding friendship and I’d hate for that to happen.”
Thank you for your note. I’m sorry you are having to experience this distressing situation. First, please know I admire the fact that you are not making excuses on your end, and are simply seeking a solution.
Of course, I don’t know enough about the situation, you, her, or the context to know exactly what to tell you. I’m always hesitant to provide a “one answer fits all” type of response for this very reason. So, please take my lack of situational knowledge into consideration.
That said, here are several thoughts:
#1 She might still be “in her anger.” The Sages tell us “not to try and appease someone while they are still ‘in their anger’.” In other words, she might still be too upset to be reasoned with. Even though I get the feeling from your note that this happened some time ago, it sounds as though she is possibly still upset and angry and is not yet ready to hear from you. Perhaps.
#2 Another suggestion is to have an intermediary whom you both trust try and intercede. If this is someone your friend respects, she may be apt to listen.
#3 Let your friend know, via any medium (telephone, voice mail, email, in-person, etc.) that you understand she is still angry and not yet ready to speak but that, when she is, you’ll be there for her.
#4 This regards what you said about her perhaps “wanting” to be angry. Understand some people are just like that. If that’s the case, you may have to emotionally detach yourself from the situation and just let her eventually come to you, if that’s what is supposed to happen.
Again, these are opinions based on very limited knowledge on my part of your unique situation. I hope, however, that they at least provide some food for thought. I’ll be interested to know the results.
Meanwhile, my friends; have you had a similar experience? How did you handle it.