[Tonight involved quite a mood switch. After coming home with a ballet class “high” I had to get serious pretty fast for my response to From the Bungalow’s recent writing challenge. The task: to create a musical affinity post describing a song that somehow had impacted me or that represented a portion of my life in some way. I chose Chicago’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry,” but the post didn’t quite go as planned . . .]
“Everybody needs a little time away,” crooned the radio.
I was driving home from work. The day after an are-we-broken-up-I-am-pretty-sure-we-are-please-no! experience has a way of quietly raking its way through your soul, forcing you to shift wildly between hope and despair. All day I’d been frantically shoving away that icy finger of fear.
“Hard for me/To say I’m sorry!” The line shuddered through me, and I knew. Knew it was over. Knew I didn’t measure up to his standards and never would.
Believed that every word he said about me was true.
I hit the gas, driving aimlessly, sobbing. For 30 minutes I circled the neighborhoods, filling the car with the shards of what I thought was my shattered future. I was sorry! Sorry! Sorry!
But I knew I couldn’t fix things.
I didn’t cry that much again. Not later that week, when he dumped me over the phone. Not when he said cruel things that followed me for years. Not when he moved on quickly to the girl he had compared me with.
My deep-seated love for Chicago took a beating that day. With time, though, “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” took on a new meaning as I moved past grief and on to anger. Now when I heard it I would berate myself for my sappy lovelornity and puff up with fury. Really, since when should I have been the sorry one?
And so it was with a self-righteous anger that I began to approach this writing challenge, madly scribbling reasons why I should not have been sorry. Blazing with fury, white-hot. How dare he. How dare anyone think I was in the wrong. How stupid was I to think I should have been sorry for anything that happened.
But partway through, it burned out.
And the momentum didn’t come back.
I started and restarted dozens of times, until at least it struck me: I couldn’t channel the emotions because I was no longer feeling them. The grief was long past, but so was the other.
I couldn’t write convincingly about my anger because I wasn’t angry anymore.
And that’s when it hit me: Chicago had it right. It really is hard to say you’re sorry.
It’s hard to cross that bridge and shout it out, simply because it can take years of emotional journeying to even arrive at the bridge itself.
I used to be sad. I used to be angry.
Now? I’m just sorry.
I’m sorry I cried so long and hard.
Sorry I thought my life was over.
Sorry I didn’t realize my life was just beginning.
Sorry that I let it go so far in the first place.
Sorry I thought I could make things right.
Sorry I thought I could change myself.
Sorry I thought I should change myself.
Sorry that I didn’t love myself enough in the beginning to think that who I was was worth sticking up for.
Sorry that I let anger and hatred fill me with bitterness for so long afterward.
And now, it’s easy to say.