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Forgiveness?

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musey

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Many years ago (almost 10, actually), while I was still in high school, I had a friend take a lot of her life frustrations on me in one LONG blow-up phone call. She threw around a lot of harsh words, and told me about all the things I''d done that made me "the worst person she''d ever known." I never saw it coming, and was left completely devastated and confused - especially because a lot of the things she said she was angry about had, in fact, never happened. In the months following, I heard whispers about her speaking ill of me in front of others, some very very bad (and made up) things... and of course as a 15-year-old, this stuff hurt a LOT more than it would now.

Fast-forward to now, and I get a letter from her begging my forgiveness. She says a lot of things about being depressed and struggling with life at that time, and that she took everything out on me even though I "in no way deserved it." She''s "very very sorry," and would be "unworthy but grateful for [my] forgiveness." At the end, she thanked me for "this chance to apologize" and said she hoped "life has treated much better than [she] did."

It''s been sitting unanswered for nearly a month now, I''m embarrassed to admit.

The thing is, this same thing has happened with two other people since her. Each time, I''m left hurt and confused. One reached out to me and we somewhat reconciled (forgiven but not forgotten), never heard from the other, and now I''m hearing from this first person.

I''ve been struggling with a response, but the wound is so old and so deep that I can''t really find the words. It''s not that I don''t appreciate her reaching out, and the courage that it took... it''s just that it has been SO long that I feel I have nothing left in me to offer her.


Thanks for making it through my novel. I suppose all I can ask is for reflections on forgiveness, experiences you''ve had... and hopefully, some help in finding appropriate words for this person.
 

musey

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Oh and before things get started, please feel free to veer off-topic and threadjack at will
because I think this thread probably has great potential for that. Most of us have some baggage in this area.
 

Rhea

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I''m not good at this type of thing, but if you respond, why not keep it very short and sweet? Say you got her letter, are glad to hear that she''s in a better place, and that you wish her happiness in the future. I wouldn''t ask questions or say much about yourself if you feel you have nothing to offer her and the wounds are still hurtful. Let your letter be the closure.
 

Porridge

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It sounds like she''s going through some counseling perhaps? Maybe just writing to you is enough for her to move past that particular incident. Maybe she needs to hear forgiveness. I would say, write back a short and polite letter, and just forgive her. Why not? You could say that while you appreciate the apology, you were very hurt and confused at the time, and ask her why she did it if you like. Depends on how you feel about it now.
 

decodelighted

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What was the classic line on the Hills ... "I''m going to forgive you and I''m going to forget you" ?? something like that??

Forgiveness is one thing - but inviting a person back into your life is another. Would suggest the former can be healthy & empowering & liberating -- but the latter is fraught with dramzzzz. People don''t change *that* much. And good people can just rub each other the wrong way & be toxic to *each other*. There''s something about you & your relationship that brings out her worst. Lack of contact for all these years may have just dimmed that memory for both of you. Why risk an, um, rediscovery.
 

Maisie

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I would forgive her. It might make you feel better. You don''t have to become bosum buddies again, but letting go of something so big might be healthy for you. If you make the decision that you are going to forgive her, no matter if you feel like it or not, it will help. The feelings will come later.

It must have been difficult for her to write to you. I know I would really hope for forgiveness if I had hurt someone that way and I felt remorse.

This must be making you feel pretty upset so have a lovely hug from me!
 

steph72276

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Sounds like she might be going through a 12-step program. I''m not sure what all the steps are, but I''m pretty sure asking for forgiveness from those you''ve done something wrong to is in the plan. I would also write back a short and to the point letter saying that you appreciate the apology and leave it at that.
 

strmrdr

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Date: 3/23/2009 6:36:15 PM
Author: steph72276
Sounds like she might be going through a 12-step program. I''m not sure what all the steps are, but I''m pretty sure asking for forgiveness from those you''ve done something wrong to is in the plan. I would also write back a short and to the point letter saying that you appreciate the apology and leave it at that.
my thoughts as well.
 

Miscka

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Date: 3/23/2009 6:36:15 PM
Author: steph72276
Sounds like she might be going through a 12-step program. I''m not sure what all the steps are, but I''m pretty sure asking for forgiveness from those you''ve done something wrong to is in the plan. I would also write back a short and to the point letter saying that you appreciate the apology and leave it at that.

I was thinking the same thing.

I would accept the apology and move on. You don''t have to be friends again, but she did swallow some serious pride here.

FWIW, I just had a VERY similar and only slightly more mature situation with my best friend/roommate of 3 years. Its heartbreaking.
 

musey

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Date: 3/23/2009 6:28:00 PM
Author: Addy
I''m not good at this type of thing, but if you respond, why not keep it very short and sweet? Say you got her letter, are glad to hear that she''s in a better place, and that you wish her happiness in the future. I wouldn''t ask questions or say much about yourself if you feel you have nothing to offer her and the wounds are still hurtful. Let your letter be the closure.
Addy, I think something like this is the perfect missing piece that I was looking for.

The first response I wrote (with full intention of never sending from the first letter I typed) was telling her exactly how much I did (and then didn''t) think about her and that conversation. Then I deleted it to tell her only the stuff that was productive... and to keep it very short, yet all I had to say sounded very curt. I needed something like that, "glad to hear that she''s in a better place," to give her the positive slant she needs to hear without being dishonestly kind.
 

musey

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Date: 3/23/2009 6:30:03 PM
Author: Porridge
It sounds like she''s going through some counseling perhaps? Maybe just writing to you is enough for her to move past that particular incident. Maybe she needs to hear forgiveness. I would say, write back a short and polite letter, and just forgive her. Why not? You could say that while you appreciate the apology, you were very hurt and confused at the time, and ask her why she did it if you like. Depends on how you feel about it now.
I feel like I closed the door on this (and her) SO incredibly long ago (before I''d even gotten to college... sheesh it''s been a long time and so much has happened) that I don''t need any explanation. I get what happened, especially because it''s happened to me twice since then, and I know that it was her own mental problems that caused the issue as opposed to me (or her, really).

I think one of the problems I''m having is that I have struggled with asserting myself and avoiding mistreatment from others in this way. I''m an easy target for people like this (or at least I have been in the past), because I''m more patient with their issues than others are... and once they figure that out, they know who to use next time they need to spread some anger around. I''ve worked hard to stop myself from continually getting in the line of fire, and have succeeded in recent years, so this is like a demon from my past revisiting me.
 

musey

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Date: 3/23/2009 6:31:22 PM
Author: decodelighted
What was the classic line on the Hills ... ''I''m going to forgive you and I''m going to forget you'' ?? something like that??

Forgiveness is one thing - but inviting a person back into your life is another. Would suggest the former can be healthy & empowering & liberating -- but the latter is fraught with dramzzzz. People don''t change *that* much. And good people can just rub each other the wrong way & be toxic to *each other*. There''s something about you & your relationship that brings out her worst. Lack of contact for all these years may have just dimmed that memory for both of you. Why risk an, um, rediscovery.
Oh no, I would NEVER permit her ''back in my life,'' so to speak (no memory dimming here
). If she needs closure all these years later, I will endeavor to give that to her, but that''s where it stops.
 

musey

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Date: 3/23/2009 6:32:09 PM
Author: Maisie
I would forgive her. It might make you feel better. You don''t have to become bosum buddies again, but letting go of something so big might be healthy for you. If you make the decision that you are going to forgive her, no matter if you feel like it or not, it will help. The feelings will come later.

It must have been difficult for her to write to you. I know I would really hope for forgiveness if I had hurt someone that way and I felt remorse.

This must be making you feel pretty upset so have a lovely hug from me!
Maisie, I do agree on some level. A big part of me hates to offer forgiveness if I don''t truly feel it, but I do know that that is really the best/only option here. It''s just a matter of how to reconcile that with my desire to be honest.
 

BeachRunner

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I think you should acknowledge her letter; after all, she did take some time to write it, right?

It''s the small things in life that make the big differences
 

BeachRunner

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Date: 3/23/2009 7:00:03 PM
Author: BeachRunner
I think you should acknowledge her letter; after all, she did take some time to write it, right?


It''s the small things in life that make the big differences
ETA: I would leave it at that. I agree with you 100% that I would not let someone like that back into my life.
 

Haven

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Date: 3/23/2009 6:47:50 PM
Author: musey
Date: 3/23/2009 6:28:00 PM
Author: Addy
I''m not good at this type of thing, but if you respond, why not keep it very short and sweet? Say you got her letter, are glad to hear that she''s in a better place, and that you wish her happiness in the future. I wouldn''t ask questions or say much about yourself if you feel you have nothing to offer her and the wounds are still hurtful. Let your letter be the closure.
Addy, I think something like this is the perfect missing piece that I was looking for.

The first response I wrote (with full intention of never sending from the first letter I typed) was telling her exactly how much I did (and then didn''t) think about her and that conversation. Then I deleted it to tell her only the stuff that was productive... and to keep it very short, yet all I had to say sounded very curt. I needed something like that, ''glad to hear that she''s in a better place,'' to give her the positive slant she needs to hear without being dishonestly kind.
I really like Addy''s suggestion. I agree that it''s best to keep it short, and throwing her a "I''m happy to hear you''re well" line softens the tone.

As for actually giving her your forgiveness, that''s a tough one for me. My biggest personal problem is that I write people out of my life very easily, and then I have a really hard time forgiving them later. So, I suppose it''s best to forgive her, but I know I probably wouldn''t be able to do it. (I''m working on it, though!)
 

musey

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Date: 3/23/2009 6:43:47 PM
Author: strmrdr
Date: 3/23/2009 6:36:15 PM
Author: steph72276
Sounds like she might be going through a 12-step program. I''m not sure what all the steps are, but I''m pretty sure asking for forgiveness from those you''ve done something wrong to is in the plan. I would also write back a short and to the point letter saying that you appreciate the apology and leave it at that.
my thoughts as well.
Date: 3/23/2009 6:44:44 PM
Author: Miscka

I was thinking the same thing.

I would accept the apology and move on. You don''t have to be friends again, but she did swallow some serious pride here.

FWIW, I just had a VERY similar and only slightly more mature situation with my best friend/roommate of 3 years. Its heartbreaking.
Thank you three for posting.

I would not be surprised in the least... it is more than likely a 12-step situation, or at least a therapist''s suggestion.

I do truly appreciate the effort and pride-swallowing, and thing that that alone (if nothing else) speaks to her remorse over the situation. It''s difficult to believe she still thinks about this all these years later, because I know I hadn''t.
 

FrekeChild

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Wow. I got something similar recently. My ex BFF approached me via myspace and apologized for her actions and said that she wished it hadn''t happened. "You know I regreted us not staying friends and over the years I''ve thought about you and your family quite a bit." etc.

But our friendship was toxic. She competed with me all of the time when we were younger. The breaking point was when I was walking towards the gym to get ready for our high school graduation, and she yelled out some really nasty comments about me, intentionally loud enough for me to hear.

I was perfectly fine exchanging emails with her. Whatever. But becoming friends again? No way.

But I''m a pretty cut and dry person. I had 2 very good friends (one was my best friend through high school and college, and the other was someone I became super close with after a couple years of college) that I cut off. At one point I had had enough of their abuse and their problems and literally cut them off. I wouldn''t go back and ask for their forgiveness. And I wouldn''t want to hear from them either, because when say I don''t want to be friends with them anymore, I mean it. It sucks at times because it makes me feel cold and heartless, but thats not it. Its one of those situations where something they''ve done is just so terrible that I want nothing to do with them or my life is taken over with their problems and I''m attempting to take my life back.

I''m just one of those people that never really forgives, and definitely never forgets.

To me, it sounds like you still harbor some bad feelings towards her. I remember being 15, and I was a giant B. But I was also very very insecure, and a stupid hormonal teenager. But those are some of the years that formed me the most. I think that age is one of the ages where everyone forms their emotional tolerance for others (as well as tons of personality traits fully form) and you hold that stuff into adulthood. Basically what I''m trying to say is that I wouldn''t blame you one bit if you don''t write her back. And I wouldn''t hold it against you if you wrote her. I think after this many years and what she did to you, the friendship is probably not repairable.

I don''t know.
 

Haven

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I also meant to add that I''m terribly sad to hear that this has happened to you two times since. You''re much too dear, Musey, to be dealing with such meanness.
 

decodelighted

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Ohhhhhhhh. I'm sorry. Scratch my advice then. I assumed you *did* forgive her. If you don't (which is totes understandable) -- you're under no obligation to humor her. Part of asking forgiveness is being able to accept when it is NOT given. People have to come to terms with the irrevocable harm their actions can cause. It helps keep them from making the same mistakes again & again.

I'm sure she expects you, as usual, to be "the bigger person" -- but if you're resisting that role because it brings up other feelings -- explore that within yourself. You don't have to share that part with her. You can withold forgiveness without explanation. This is coming at you out of the blue -- she's had the time to prep & think about it & decide. The ball is in your court & you do not have to rush OR act at all really.
 

musey

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Date: 3/23/2009 7:01:20 PM
Author: BeachRunner
Date: 3/23/2009 7:00:03 PM
Author: BeachRunner
I think you should acknowledge her letter; after all, she did take some time to write it, right?

It''s the small things in life that make the big differences
Yes, I intend to, that was the main motivation for posting. I was starting a response and found myself completely lost for words.
 

musey

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Date: 3/23/2009 7:02:21 PM
Author: Haven
Date: 3/23/2009 6:47:50 PM
Author: musey
Date: 3/23/2009 6:28:00 PM
Author: Addy
I''m not good at this type of thing, but if you respond, why not keep it very short and sweet? Say you got her letter, are glad to hear that she''s in a better place, and that you wish her happiness in the future. I wouldn''t ask questions or say much about yourself if you feel you have nothing to offer her and the wounds are still hurtful. Let your letter be the closure.
Addy, I think something like this is the perfect missing piece that I was looking for.

The first response I wrote (with full intention of never sending from the first letter I typed) was telling her exactly how much I did (and then didn''t) think about her and that conversation. Then I deleted it to tell her only the stuff that was productive... and to keep it very short, yet all I had to say sounded very curt. I needed something like that, ''glad to hear that she''s in a better place,'' to give her the positive slant she needs to hear without being dishonestly kind.
I really like Addy''s suggestion. I agree that it''s best to keep it short, and throwing her a ''I''m happy to hear you''re well'' line softens the tone.

As for actually giving her your forgiveness, that''s a tough one for me. My biggest personal problem is that I write people out of my life very easily, and then I have a really hard time forgiving them later. So, I suppose it''s best to forgive her, but I know I probably wouldn''t be able to do it. (I''m working on it, though!)
My big problem is the opposite - I tend to hold on to toxic friends long after I realize they''ve become toxic. I realized that about three years ago and have since swung the polar opposite direction. Now I have zero patience for toxic people.

Now to find a happy medium for dealing with toxicity...
 

musey

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Date: 3/23/2009 7:04:21 PM
Author: Haven
I also meant to add that I''m terribly sad to hear that this has happened to you two times since. You''re much too dear, Musey, to be dealing with such meanness.
Thanks, Haven
that''s very sweet of you to say.

After the first one, my mother said she thinks I attract this type of person, because I''m nice enough to deal with their bull*** where most people are not. I said don''t be ridiculous, if that were true it would have happened before.

10 years later....
 

musey

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Date: 3/23/2009 7:03:22 PM
Author: FrekeChild
Wow. I got something similar recently. My ex BFF approached me via myspace and apologized for her actions and said that she wished it hadn't happened. 'You know I regreted us not staying friends and over the years I've thought about you and your family quite a bit.' etc.

But our friendship was toxic. She competed with me all of the time when we were younger. The breaking point was when I was walking towards the gym to get ready for our high school graduation, and she yelled out some really nasty comments about me, intentionally loud enough for me to hear.

I was perfectly fine exchanging emails with her. Whatever. But becoming friends again? No way.

But I'm a pretty cut and dry person. I had 2 very good friends (one was my best friend through high school and college, and the other was someone I became super close with after a couple years of college) that I cut off. At one point I had had enough of their abuse and their problems and literally cut them off. I wouldn't go back and ask for their forgiveness. And I wouldn't want to hear from them either, because when say I don't want to be friends with them anymore, I mean it. It sucks at times because it makes me feel cold and heartless, but thats not it. Its one of those situations where something they've done is just so terrible that I want nothing to do with them or my life is taken over with their problems and I'm attempting to take my life back.

I'm just one of those people that never really forgives, and definitely never forgets.
Freke, I think I'm the same (and sorry to hear you've gone through similar stuff - it sucks). I do try to forgive people, and maybe I'll get there some day, but for now... it's just not something I'm capable of. Not for things of this magnitude, anyway.

To me, it sounds like you still harbor some bad feelings towards her. I remember being 15, and I was a giant B. But I was also very very insecure, and a stupid hormonal teenager. But those are some of the years that formed me the most. I think that age is one of the ages where everyone forms their emotional tolerance for others (as well as tons of personality traits fully form) and you hold that stuff into adulthood. Basically what I'm trying to say is that I wouldn't blame you one bit if you don't write her back. And I wouldn't hold it against you if you wrote her. I think after this many years and what she did to you, the friendship is probably not repairable.
There's zero hope for friendship in the future, so the best that could come out of this is closure (for her, I found mine on my own). I definitely harbor bad feelings toward her, you bet. I have formed a definite opinion of her character and, even with this recent letter, she's given me no reason to revisit and reform that opinion. None at all.

I don't wish ill on her, or even think about her for that matter... it's no longer anger or resentment or hurt feelings, it's just a basic opinion of who she is. It's possible she could change that opinion (though I would be quite surprised), but there wouldn't be much point.

My brother brought up the interesting point (which he disclaimed with "I'm not necessarily suggesting that she's being insincere, BUT...) that she is currently trying to work her way into the film industry. So there's that little tinge as well.
 

Gypsy

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Sounds like something to do with counselling or 12 steps to me too. I would just write an acknowledgement, thanking her for the note. Leave it at that. But then, I find it very easy to cut people out of my life, and very hard to let them in.

ETA: I like the 'hope you are in a better place.' And I too am sorry it's happened to you twice. It's happened to me a couple of times too, and I let my bad memory swallow the edges of it and then just let it recede. I agree 100% with Deco that asking for forgiveness means understanding when it's not given. The three people I can remember doing something similar to me would not recieve my forgiveness, but I would write and acknowledgement for my own sense of closure.


Thank you for your note, X. I hope you are in a better place now. Regards, Gypsy.

I love "regards"... I'm not saying WHAT KIND of regards, now am I? Warm, Kind... unkind? Mean???
I love playing with language.
 

musey

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Date: 3/23/2009 7:05:51 PM
Author: decodelighted
Ohhhhhhhh. I''m sorry. Scratch my advice then. I assumed you *did* forgive her. If you don''t (which is totes understandable) -- you''re under no obligation to humor her. Part of asking forgiveness is being able to accept when it is NOT given. People have to come to terms with the irrevocable harm their actions can cause. It helps keep them from making the same mistakes again & again.
Totes!!


Deco, those last two sentences struck a chord with me. I do feel that the things she said are unforgivable, at least not with as little effort as a short email 10 years after the fact. I''m not saying that it wasn''t an effort for her, I''m sure it took some ovaries, but 10 years? And an email? ... and now I just sound high maintenance
I think what it boils down to is that part of me feels unwilling to extend forgiveness ''just for her sake'' (because I certainly am having trouble finding honest forgiveness within myself).

I''m sure she expects you, as usual, to be ''the bigger person'' -- but if you''re resisting that role because it brings up other feelings -- explore that within yourself. You don''t have to share that part with her. You can withold forgiveness without explanation. This is coming at you out of the blue -- she''s had the time to prep & think about it & decide. The ball is in your court & you do not have to rush OR act at all really.
This is just what my initial reaction has been. I do have the urge to just ignore it and let her deal with her feelings of remorse on her own, as I don''t feel it has to be my job to make her feel better about the seriously horrible things she did.

The former, nicer/more of a pushover musey wants to write back and tell her that it''s okay and of course she''s forgiven.
 

musey

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Date: 3/23/2009 7:33:11 PM
Author: Gypsy
Sounds like something to do with counselling or 12 steps to me too. I would just write an acknowledgement, thanking her for the note. Leave it at that. But then, I find it very easy to cut people out of my life, and very hard to let them in.

ETA: I like the 'hope you are in a better place.' And I too am sorry it's happened to you twice. It's happened to me a couple of times too, and I let my bad memory swallow the edges of it and then just let it recede. I agree 100% with Deco that asking for forgiveness means understanding when it's not given. The three people I can remember doing something similar to me would not recieve my forgiveness, but I would write and acknowledgement for my own sense of closure.
Three times
that last one was a big wake-up call, and I changed a lot about how I deal with people after that.

I do think that an acknowledgment of receipt plus the "glad you are in a better place" is the most I can offer honestly. I just struggle with whether to throw in an obligatory "you're forgiven" just for her sanity's sake. Though I'm not sure why I care so much. That must be the former musey sneaking in...

If I don't offer forgiveness, do I mention it at all? She asked to be forgiven three times within a very short letter, so I think that's where some of my feeling of obligation is coming from. Should I say that I can't forgive her, or is that just WAY unnecessarily mean?
 

Gypsy

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No. I wouldn''t offer forgiveness. You don''t feel it, you don''t feel it. This is about you too, not just about her. Okay she asked three times. She could ask a 100. The fact is, you were hurt and you aren''t obligated to ''grant'' forgiveness like you are a Genie in a bottle. You are a person. And if you don''t feel it, you don''t. If she REALLY has changed then she will realize it''s not all about her and let it go. If she doesn''t or can''t let it go... and doesn''t realize this is about YOU and not her. She hasn''t changed, so why bother?

I wouldn''t give more than I edited to add above. I have people who I LIKE that I don''t write back to on a regular basis, or call back on time, or whatever. Let alone someone who hurt me and abused my trust and friendship.
 

Kaleigh

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Don''t forgive her unless it comes from your heart. I''d say something like this>

I am conflicted about forgiving you because what you did is still painful to me. But am glad to know you are in a better place, and are working on your issues.


Would that be mean? I dunno. I am the type that doesn''t forgive easily.
 

Sabine

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Date: 3/23/2009 6:43:47 PM
Author: strmrdr
Date: 3/23/2009 6:36:15 PM

Author: steph72276

Sounds like she might be going through a 12-step program. I''m not sure what all the steps are, but I''m pretty sure asking for forgiveness from those you''ve done something wrong to is in the plan. I would also write back a short and to the point letter saying that you appreciate the apology and leave it at that.
my thoughts as well.
Mine too.
 
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