Have you ever tried to make amends for a mistake made years ago?

This thread is about realizing you feel bad about something you did to someone after a long time has passed. I’m sure everyone has had this experience, but what did you do about it? Go to the person and apologize? Let it go, and move on? Feel free to share what you did, too, if what you did harmed the relationship you had with the person, and if the apology made a difference. Or, if someone has apologized to you for something like this, etc.

I started thinking about this after seeing a home video from about ten years ago, in which I was unnecessarily sarcastic and mean to my mother because I didn’t want to be filmed. I don’t even remember doing it, and it’s too late to do anything about it, but I hope I wasn’t like that very often, and that she didn’t take it personally.

I’ve thought about apologizing for my part in a friendship that broke up in a really explosive way, but decided it’s best not to open that door again. So, I’ve never gone to someone and tried to make amends for something in the distant past.

I lost one of my best friends when I was 17 – he just stopped talking to me for no apparent reason. Several years later I e-mailed him trying to make amends, and he responded with such intense hostility it just re-opened the wound all over again. I still have no idea what happened.

Hell, yes. I apologized to my ex-boyfriend for some of the bad things that happened. And I have apologized to my parents/family for foolish stuff I did as a child, too. I find it better to apologize in most circumstances - not all.

From the other side of the fence… I had an old school friend get in touch with me, saying she wanted to get back in touch. She sent me an email apologising for some things she did. I sent her a friendly email back, accepting her apology and telling her what I’d been up to with my life since. She never replied.

I guess she really just wanted to make the apology, not actually get back in touch. I just wish she’d made that clear at the start.

I’ve found that a direct apology without justification works quite well. I’ve apologised to my parents and friends on occasion, sometimes for faults that were years old.

I apologised to a friend once after I stopped speaking to her for a few years when she did something that upset me. I said I didn’t need to have such a strong reaction to it, and we went on to have a very solid friendship.

(For a while. Then she let me down again, and I just don’t trust her now, and I think I was wrong to apologise. Rather than stop speaking to her again, I’ve just decided not to get close enough to get burnt.)

In general, if you believe you were in the wrong, with hindsight or whatever, and it would benefit both parties for an apology to be made, then great. If it opens up a can o’worms for either, forget it.

I was kind of an unappreciative dick to the two wrestling coaches that I had in high school. They were two guys without much experience or knowledge who put together a wrestling program for the school. At the time, rather than appreciating them for providing something that would not have existed otherwise, I resented the fact that their lack of skill made it more difficult for me to excel.

I attempted to contact them over 10 years later to apologize. One of them was glad to hear from me and appreciated the gesture, although he didn’t remember me as being as bad as I remembered myself. The other one didn’t return my call.

I’m glad I did it. I would appreciate it if someone did the same for me.

Tried to contact a friend I’d lost in the divorce. He and his wife had broken contact with both of us, so he said when I finally got ahold of him, although at the time of the divorce, my ex-wife had tried to make it sound like they were solidly on her side of things.

I don’t know if it was right or wrong, but I stated up front that while I wanted to talk and re-establish contact, I wasn’t willing to face a bunch of accusations from their end without the ability to speak honestly about how I felt about how I’d been hurt by some things they’d done too. No details given, nothing mentioned, just ‘this needs to be honest and open on both sides’.

Got a long ‘fuck you’ response making a lot of accusations while telling me that he didn’t want to hear my “accusations”. Kind of rich, actually. Then told me never to contact him again.

Ugh. I broke up with a guy I was dating when I was 18, in a completely self-centered and mean way. I didn’t think I was being mean at the time, the problem was I wasn’t thinking about him at all.

Later, when I had grown up a little, I felt terrible about this. About five years after, I had this impulse that it would be good to apologize, so I sent him a note, saying I was sorry and trying to explain what had led up to the events (a rookie mistake, going for an explanation).

About an hour after I put the note in the mailbox, I realized how odd that was. And for all I knew, he could have a girlfriend or something who was going to wonder why he was getting strange mail from strange girls.

I never heard anything back from him, so I can only assume he thought I was both mean AND weird.

Huh, maybe now I could find him on Facebook, and apologize again, so he could think I am mean AND weird AND a crazy stalker.

The lesson I learned is that I should think about whether I want to apologize to ease my own guilt, or if it really would mean something to the wronged person.

Back when I was in my major partying mode I was at a 24 hour diner after the bars closed. They were busy as hell and we had a large table. It was agreed on ahead of time that this guy Doug would pay for all the food.
We were drunk, obnoxious and running our waitress ragged. I’l never forget. Her name was Lois and she was approximately in her late 50’s with a worn and tired face.
We get our bill and Doug laughs and announces he has no money. I thought he must be joking until he took off out the front door. Nobody noticed he dined and dashed because the place was jam packed.
I had no money on me and felt I had no choice, but to take off as well. I left the place feeling slightly bad, but I got over it since I was a young, heartless, self absorbed bitch at the time.
Fast forward to a few years later, I’ve grown up a bit, I’ve since had my own waitressing jobs and can relate to getting bad tips and such. Everytime I drove past that restaurant I cringed thinking of poor Lois.
I had a tragic event happen in my life that made me want to be a better person, so as soon as I got extra money, I went to that restaurant (since I knew Lois still worked there) and introduced myself to her.
I explained who I was and how we had stiffed her a few years back and that I wanted to apologized and pay her back. I handed her enough money for the bill plus a generous tip. The whole time I talked she didn’t say a word, just looked at me stunned with her jaw dropped open. I don’t know what she was thinking, whether she was shocked and happy or ready to kill me.

I had a great coach when I was younger, and I feel like I did some things to him I shouldn’t have. Most of all, I ignored his advice and eventually let him down. He is not able to be around now because of some choices he made outside of that realm landed him in jail for a few more years. I looked him up and wrote him a letter letting him know how things were going here, not knowing if that would concern him or not, but then apologized for letting him down when I was younger and let him know that I always looked up to him as an athlete, just never let him know. Not such a huge deal as some things, but still, I wanted to make an attempt.

Brendon Small

My first wife. She deserved better than I could give her at the time. About five years ago, I got to tell her that.

I’ve done wrong to many people that I’m constantly making up for. But I haven’t yet made amends with the actual people I’ve mistreated.

No, it’s weird and seems like a bad idea. Besides, I haven’t done anything to anyone that bad.

In the 12 -step proram there is a step for making a list of persons you have harmed, becoming ready to make those amends, and making amends except when to do so would injure you or others.
It takes thought and time, not to be done impulsively.
Also, think of what makes an amendment to the Constitution.
It’s not “I’m Sorry.”
It’s CHANGES, in behavior, attitude, judgment,and spirit.

Making some amendments helped me, others were ignored. It’s about doing it for you, not the results from someone else.

By the way, I went to a high-school reunion 6 years ago. 3 different people came up to me an apologized for bullying me in grade school.
Some kind of Kharma at work I think

When I was in school I used to download pirated games and films. A few years later I regretted it and had a big clean out. I destroyed my collection of illegal software and now I have a huge collection of games, all paid for.

I’m sure that’s a common story though.

Saying your sorry may make you feel better, but if it’s been awhile it does no good.

But I guess it takes all kinds to make a world. I still can’t believe there are people who can’t get over they were called “pimple face” in high school, 20 years ago. But they exist.

If you want to say you’re sorry, it won’t do any harm, and it may do some good, but I would think if you want to make a difference, you focus your efforst where you can help people. It would be more useful to your ego to help a person who is suffering at this moment and with this bad economy there are lots of people that need help.

Says who? Are you saying it is impossible to make somebody else feel better by apologizing years later? Or are you saying making somebody feel better is not a worthwhile goal?

As a part of the recovery process I made face to face amends with everyone I had hurt during my life. The hardest one was my Mother. It turned out to be a wonderful experience and we are very close today. As a matter of fact it has brought me closer to my son also.

If nothing else it free’s you up and people will respect you for doing it. I wish I had learned to say I was sorry when I was younger. It would have saved me a lot of heartache.

I would, if given a chance apologize to some kids in school who were taunted by me and my asshole friends. But at a 20 year reunion one girl got her revenge when she came up to me, looked me in the face with a big smirk and said “I don’t remember who you are at all!” I didn’t try to jog her memory, she was pissed, damn.

I think my family sometimes fishes around for aknowledgement/apology of some not so honorable things I did (to myself, which may have embarrassed them). But, uh uh I ain’t going down that road, whatever it was, it happened years ago, it did me more harm than it did them, get over it.