So, An Old Classmate Contacted Me...

AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
So, when I got home today, I found a letter sent to me from an old high school classmate. In it, he apologized for how he and others had treated me in high school. And...i don't know how I feel about this.

I've long since made my piece with high school, being many years out from it. That said, everything that happened there (not just what went on at school, but also my own personal issues) is part of why I went across the country for college, and why I never looked too hard at going back, especially after my parents relocated while I was in college. I get why he sent the letter, and part of me is glad for the apology, but another part is just...not angry so much as resigned. So, I don't know what to say or do with this.

XBL: Nox Aeternum / PSN: NoxAeternum / NN:NoxAeternum / Steam: noxaeternum
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  • NightDragonNightDragon 6th Grade Username Registered User regular
    I think, to start, don't feel like you HAVE to reply, or that you have to DO anything. When I've had people from school apologize to me in later years, part of me has felt like it's a nice gesture, but the other half of me is frustrated, because I figure that they could've just chosen to not be jerks in the first place! Regardless, I think it's perfectly fine for you to take the time to mull over it. If you want to reply later, you can, and if you want to just move on and not reply, I think that's perfectly fine as well.

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  • HevachHevach Registered User regular
    I've gotten five of these myself over the years. I answered the first couple and clicked the profiles for the next few and... Well, I regretted it. Just getting one is a negative experience.

    While you mull over your own feelings about it, try to see if you can derive from their letter why they wrote it, because it'll inform what you decide to do with it. I encountered three broad categories:

    A couple of the ones I got were the "making amends" part of some 12-step program or another (signs: non specific, like a form letter - they're usually making a lot of them). Answering is probably pointless - the process is about them confessing, not you forgiving.

    Three were related to some religious conversion process (signs: self congratulating and concerned with forgiveness, might actually have the nerve to forgive you while they're at it - it'll also be all over their activity if you're up for a little Facebook stalking), whether it was some formal part or just, "I found God and now I need to do this" I don't know. My strong advice is to trash it in this case. Maybe sincere, but not in a way that will actually satisfy anyone but themselves, and converts are he truest witnesses, even if you share their new faith the conversation is likely to be insufferable.

    The last one seemed genuinely sincere and acting of their own agency, and here's where it gets complicated. How well a response will play out has a lot to do with why they've now reached out, which you cant know, and how well they actually understand what you went through (as opposed to what the did), which you can only guess. My contact with this one went poorly, but if good can come of this process it's from this kind of personal honesty, so I'm hesitant to say ignore it.


    Regardless of where it comes from, they need your forgiveness even less than you needed their apology. If answering means disrupting that peace you made with your past, then it's not worth it.

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  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    I have done this - contacted someone to say I was sorry for whatever wrong I've committed, and I've been contacted. On occasion, it's worked out pretty well and I got a pretty decent friendship out of it, with waaay more respect than I'd managed before. I spend my life in the horrific and perpetual realization about what a jerk I was five years ago.

    I think self-awareness is awesome, but only insofar as it can be used for personal growth. I'm Jewish and observe Yom Kippur, a huge part of which is making amends with the people you've hurt over the past year, which I think forces the consideration that yeah, sometimes the best of us are kind of shit people. I believe strongly that making amends is important. But it's also uncomfortable, not just from a confrontation standpoint but also the keen awareness that if it was more than a year ago (or even more recent), chances are I'm opening old wounds, for what? The apology can't change the damage that was done. Sometimes the kindest thing, the thing most indicative that the person has changed, is to just leave it the fuck alone. Sometimes that kind of thing is more self-indulgent than actually beneficial to the other party, and does a whole lot more harm than good. Again, that's something that I've seen from both sides.

    Speaking as someone with experience in the place that person is likely coming from, unless you are actually interested in seeing the relationship mended (which there's nothing wrong with, by the way), don't respond. In the end the best thing for them is to understand that they actually said or did things bad enough that it can't just be fixed later with even a sincere apology, that some hurts are simply not reparable, and they are not owed forgiveness for their past. All they can do is try to treat the people in their lives better in the future. It's a hard lesson, but also absolutely necessary for the process of figuring out how to be a more tolerable person to be around.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
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  • AldoAldo Hippo Hooray Registered User regular
    Hevach wrote: »
    I've gotten five of these myself over the years. I answered the first couple and clicked the profiles for the next few and... Well, I regretted it. Just getting one is a negative experience.

    While you mull over your own feelings about it, try to see if you can derive from their letter why they wrote it, because it'll inform what you decide to do with it. I encountered three broad categories:

    A couple of the ones I got were the "making amends" part of some 12-step program or another (signs: non specific, like a form letter - they're usually making a lot of them). Answering is probably pointless - the process is about them confessing, not you forgiving.

    Three were related to some religious conversion process (signs: self congratulating and concerned with forgiveness, might actually have the nerve to forgive you while they're at it - it'll also be all over their activity if you're up for a little Facebook stalking), whether it was some formal part or just, "I found God and now I need to do this" I don't know. My strong advice is to trash it in this case. Maybe sincere, but not in a way that will actually satisfy anyone but themselves, and converts are he truest witnesses, even if you share their new faith the conversation is likely to be insufferable.

    The last one seemed genuinely sincere and acting of their own agency, and here's where it gets complicated. How well a response will play out has a lot to do with why they've now reached out, which you cant know, and how well they actually understand what you went through (as opposed to what the did), which you can only guess. My contact with this one went poorly, but if good can come of this process it's from this kind of personal honesty, so I'm hesitant to say ignore it.


    Regardless of where it comes from, they need your forgiveness even less than you needed their apology. If answering means disrupting that peace you made with your past, then it's not worth it.
    This sounds like a great summary.
    I have only received one and that was from someone I forgot existed. I wrote a short encouragement for her that didn't commit to anything.

  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    Thanks to all for the advice. I'm still processing things, but I've been thinking about what you all have said.

    XBL: Nox Aeternum / PSN: NoxAeternum / NN:NoxAeternum / Steam: noxaeternum
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