I am finding myself feeling awfully guilty for how I have treated my father in the past. Growing up, we both had our differences and well, let’s just say we didn’t exactly see eye to eye. Things were said, there were a lot of hurt feelings flying around back and forth, which has led to a lot of regret on my part that I know of for sure. My younger sister and my mother have always stayed out of our disagreements because they knew the drill between my father and I.
I am well into my 30s now and my father is approaching his mid-60s. We have the occasional family and holiday dinner gatherings now, and my father and I can hold a conversation just fine. However, at least in the back of my mind, I am feeling a lot of overwhelming guilt lately because of what has happened between us over the years. It is almost like we passed our bickering stage and we get along great now, but at the same time there was never any closure from what he and I went through. No I’m sorry’s were ever exchanged or explanations. I just can’t move forward because it still bothers me and I feel really bad for all of the terrible things I said over the years and did.
Is it too late to apologize?
—Feeling Guilty in the Foothills
Dear Feeling Guilty in the Foothills,
It is NEVER too late to apologize for anything that we may have said or done wrong in our past. Yet, what we all forget is that apologies are not just for us to relieve our guilty consciences or to “man up” and take responsibility for any wrong actions we may have taken throughout the years, but it is also a gift you can give for the other person you may have wronged. An apology can help heal the other person’s pain as well as your own. To forgive is one of life’s greatest gifts we can give to one another, but so is apologizing.
I am glad to hear that things seem to be fine with you and your father now as you both have grown older. I understand that you are feeling guilty because you have never apologized to your father. On the other hand though, have you ever put yourself in your father’s shoes? Perhaps he is feeling just as guilty as you are right now and is asking himself the same question, as to whether or not it is too late to apologize to you.
You are right that you both never received any closure from all of the fighting or arguing you did over the years, especially if you guys have never sat down to talk about it or to conventionally apologize to each other. And, if you yourself have children of your own now, chances are you have experienced with your own children the battles of parenting that come about every so often. Sometimes when you are trying to be a good parent, you may not always be popular with your child, and sometimes your child won’t see eye to eye with your decisions because they may not understand the lesson you are trying to teach them. Be that as it may, that doesn’t mean that your child won’t understand the lesson you were trying to teach them one day, years down the road. Perhaps some of your arguments with your father were in relation to this type of scenario, and perhaps they were about something entirely different. Either way, what’s said and done is said and done. You can’t take back any of it and you have done nothing about it to this point, so that’s not making you feel any better either, which means that what you are doing is not quite working for you. Therefore, is it too late to apologize? NEVER.
It is NEVER too late to apologize to anyone about anything. The apology will mean so much to your father after all of these years, will relieve you of your guilt, and will probably strengthen your relationship with your father from here on out.
The only way it will ever be too late to apologize is if you never do it, for our loved ones won’t always be here.
Ahwatukee Foothills resident Michelle “Mikey” Arana is a 2003 graduate of Mountain Pointe High School. She offers free peer advice, however, Mikey is not licensed or trained, just a fellow friend to the community. All inquiries made to Mikey will remain anonymous unless legal issues occur. She can be reached at www.myaskmikey.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.