"I'm really sorry."
"I'm just so desperately, grovelingly sorry. I was wrong. I hurt you. You have a right to be angry. And I apologise humbly for what I said or did."
I seem to spend a lot of time saying that sort of thing. And, either it works, or I have the sort of friends who will be glorified, beatified and eventually canonised into sainthood upon their passing from this world. Because, so far, I haven't lost any of them.
One of my friends recently confessed to me that he has a tongue like a viper. That didn't precisely come as a surprise; I had felt its sting more than once. But, oh, I can wield an email like a sledgehammer; I can annihilate with a few well-chosen words.
Okay – so badly chosen words. Because I don't actually want to leave people pulverised on the floor wondering what happened.
And yes – the blunt instrument emails normally happen when I'm in my arrogant and spiky phase.
I won't share with you this original email, but part of one I wrote when I came down a little and realised how hurt the recipient was.
It was made more challenging by the fact that I had to choose whether to share my mental health condition with this (fairly new) friend or whether just to apologise and leave it.
In the end I shared it.
"It's probably the second hardest thing to tell a brand new friend that you have a mental health condition and that they've just suffered some of the fallout from it.
"There are harder things to say of course – like, "get yourself down to the clinic - I think I might have given you something…." But I think we can safely cross that one off the list of things I'm ever likely to say to you (or to anyone)!
"So – yup. I'm really, Really, REALLY sorry for the email the other night. But my apology doesn't mean a lot unless I put it into context.
"So – I have bi-polar disorder. Sometimes known as manic depression. I go up – and come down.
"The downs are bad, but the ups are worse.
"Because while I'm full of energy and wildly creative (whole new story conceived, created, plotted and started in one night – that was Friday – you saw that!), I'm also argumentative, intolerant, judgemental, impatient, humourless and arrogant. Ah, I see you've met that person. Dammit. I really wish you hadn't.
"So – for what it's worth – you have my sincere and profound apologies.
"I'm back in control now. Humour restored. Compassion modules fully engaged.
"I hope you'll accept the apology and continue the friendship (which I value). But I certainly won't blame you if you walk away.
"You have my best wishes, always."
So – this friend is obviously another saint in the making. My apology was graciously received. Forgiveness was freely given.
Good friends are worth an awful lot of apologies, explanations and swallowed pride.
A Moodscope member.