I have a friend who is the master of holding grudges. He was angry with someone for twenty years. This friend and the object of his distaste have since made up to some extent, but my friend could very easily be a new Hatfield or McCoy; fighting over something for generations long after the original transgression had rightfully expired. I will give him credit that his McCoy counterpart knew exactly why my friend was angry, so at least he wasn’t passive aggressive about it.
I try not to be passive aggressive, but my entire immediate family is very much that way. My grandmother was the kung fu master of the passive aggressive guilt trip. I lived with her for nearly twenty years, so it is very easy for me to fall back into that kind of nonsense if I’m not paying attention. I try not to let it invade my own behavior. I consciously made an effort to not be passive aggressive and it seems to have worked, for the most part.
I’m pretty live and let live. If I think someone owes me an apology, I confront them on it and I usually get one right then and there. I don’t let things fester. When someone owes me an apology, I go get one. It’s pretty simple.
Part of what allows me to confront things directly is an innate ability to see things from other people’s perspectives. I think most writers have this ability otherwise they wouldn’t be able to write fiction. It means that I generally don’t fly off the handle when I feel I have been wronged. I can see the big picture. I am able to weigh things out from both sides. If the sides don’t add up, I confront the person on their behavior with well-reasoned, irrefutable arguments. That’s not to say that I don’t get frustrated, but it usually passes pretty quickly and it is always voiced; it’s never bottled and saved for later.
On the other hand, there are some apologies I’d like to hand out that I never got the chance to at the time. These latent apologies sometimes creep up on me when I am attempting to sleep. I call them the cringe moments. They are every moment I wish I could take back or do over. At the very least, I’d apologize right then and there, but the people to whom I owe apologies are no longer a part of my life. These guilty actions of mine don’t even seem like me since there’s no way I would behave like that today. The chance to apologize has long since passed and there’s nothing I can do about it now. That doesn’t keep me from occasionally thinking about them late at night in the dark though.
We all start off life young and stupid. Most transgressions are a matter of age and inexperience. However, just as it’s unhealthy to hold a grudge, it’s just as unhealthy to hold an apology. Life is just a series of mistakes. The better among us learn from them and move on.