A couple of years ago I had a friend on Facebook whom I had originally met on TTPG. For those of you not in the pizza business, that is Tip The Pizza Guy (dot com). When I started posting on TTPG I was back in my Libertarian stage so I never really had a lot of disagreement with this person at first, but as I evolved and became more of a progressive, we began to disagree more and more. Some of our arguments became day-long affairs, or I would burn lean tissue late into the night going back and forth, back and forth.
At some point, it stopped being fun. Things got heated and never really cooled. We got deeply personal with some of our attacks and insults and it ended when he took personal information I had shared with him in the past and used it to try and win a point in a debate/argument. I defriended him on Facebook, but he was still the group owner of the Pizza Delivery Drivers Forum that I was a member of. We avoided each other there but it didn’t last, and I left the group after things got political in a space where I didn’t think it should be about politics.
That was two years ago. Up until a few weeks ago, we hadn’t spoken. He went on with his life, I went on with mine. The experience I had with him made me reconsider a lot of the political discussions I was having on social media and whether or not they were beneficial to me in any way. It started me on the course of untangling myself from the pattern of constant arguing. I still indulge once in a while, but not to the degree I used to. There are simply more important things to do than try to win a political debate, and it really sucks losing friends. Some people I’ve met in real life, whom I have respected greatly, ended up defriending me or vice versa because of politics.
A few weeks ago I found out from my best friend who was still a member of that group that the owner of it, the one I had a falling out with, was diagnosed with cancer and about to undergo surgery followed by radiation and chemotherapy. Without thinking twice, I contacted him on Facebook to let him know I was pulling for him and hoping for a full recovery. Why? Because we all fuck up. We all make mistakes, or get caught in the moment, or just lash out in anger and realize the damage we’ve done when it’s too late. I know I’ve done that before, and I would hope that the person I had hurt would at some point forgive me. In the end, he said things that bothered me and was a jerk on the internet- which is something that, once I contacted him, he apologized profusely for. I apologized to him too, because I know my hands were not clean in what led up to the loss of our friendship.
He said to me that it wasn’t even his diagnosis which made him feel regretful, he felt that right after the blow-up happened, but just didn’t think I’d be receptive to an apology. I like to think I would have been but I don’t know. At some point shortly after it all happened I was no longer angry with him, but he felt guilty over it for a couple of years. I know that I have carried guilt too, long after the person I caused offense to had ceased being mad at me over it, but I was also afraid to apologize because I didn’t want to remind them of the offense, or take the chance that they would be angry with me all over again
The moment I heard about the cancer I forgave him. I am sure if he would have reached out to me before, I would have forgiven him then. Forgiveness never erases the deed that led to the problem, but it is a huge exercise in allowance. It’s agency at work in its purest form. It does not mean you have to be BFF’s with the person you’ve forgiven, but it creates the possibility that you can rebuild a friendship or some type of relationship with that person. It also empowers you to have the ability to move on, not forget the past, but to recognize that whatever happened, happened, and to stop letting past wrongs dictate the course of your life. That’s a lesson I need to keep reminding myself of- the past can only hinder your life to the extent which you continue to relive it. Remember it and learn from the past, yes, but don’t relive it.
Not every relationship or friendship can be reclaimed, and not all offenses are easily forgiven if at all, but there are many that can be, if we’re willing to try. Nobody goes through life without hurting others at times, myself included. Fix the fixable stuff while you can, because we’re all up against the clock and none of us are getting out of here alive.