When we hear the word “relationship” the focus is usually on your partner/mate but in actuality we have relationships with EVERY person we interact with. Some of those relationships are minor and some, like family, friends and co-works are intense and important relationships. And in every interaction we have the opportunity to inflict damage. And the honest reality is that we sometimes do.

As the person who deals with the money side of stuff at Aerial Dance I get the pleasure (I say with disdain) of doing our collections. If someone defaults on a payment or a credit card is declined I am the one who notifies them. Often it isn’t a big deal, but sometimes people are MEAN. They yell at me and say mean things and I hang up the phone and cry or am in a bad mood. I HATE this part of running a company. HATE HATE HATE. And I use to think “what a Bit*ch” or some type of judgemental comment in my head about the person who was just so mean to me.

Then I started paying attention. And holy wow batman, there are times *I* am the mean person on the other end of the phone. Case in point this last week, my mom has been unwell and I’ve been spending a lot of time on the phone with doctors and nurses. One called me and told me a contradictory thing to what the previous person at the clinic said. And I was PISSED and ANGRY and my emotions reflected in my voice. And thankfully, the nurse checked me on it. She said “I understand you’re upset but I’m trying to help.” And I paused. Took a deep breath. And I apologized. She was 100% correct. I was just an asshat. I just reacted in a way that did not align with who I want to be. So I apologized. And next week I plan to drop cookies off during her shift because I don’t want to be the person I was to her.

This got me thinking. We are all humans. We have 1,000s of interactions a day. And when I really stopped and dissected my behavior I realize that with every single person who I have frequent interactions with there have been times when I was a jerk and times that person was a jerk to me. There have been instance of hurt feelings in every single relationship I have. Usually these are miscommunication or little things that you barely remember or didn’t really upset you, but they are there. Little micro hurt feelings or confusion by someone’s behavior towards you. And this is where we have the opportunity to grow. In all of these little instances of little damage we have the opportunity to check ourselves and apologize. And those are the moments that strengthen our bond with that person and help us align more clearly with who we want to be. To say I’m sorry and mean it strengths a relationship. And to then strive to learn and improve is how our relationships help us grow into a better version of ourselves.

Sometimes the damage inflicted isn’t little. A few months ago, for the first time in years I met a man that I wanted to make space in my life for. Whenever people asked me about him I would say “he’s so kind” because he was. And after two months of absolute magic, seemingly overnight, and for reasons I have no clue of to this day, this kind and thoughtful man started ghosting me. Then I got dumped via text and promptly ghosted again. Dude, you’re 40! You don’t ghost someone at our age!!! OR EVER!!! No joke, that hurt like hell. (ok, honestly, I’m still hurt by it.) I still have no clue what the hell happened and I’m a freaking adult so would like to have a freaking conversation about it for some understanding and closure. But alas no. My friends call him an asshole because his behavior in this instance was so poor. But is he. No. He’s not. (…probably not.) He’s a guy who was struggling with something and reacted poorly and my feelings were the collateral damage. Which totally sucks. But there have been times in my life that I’ve reacted poorly and I do NOT want people to base my character on the moments when I behaved in a way that I am not proud of. So that means I need to forgive and look with understanding when someone else is a jerk and acts out of character.

As my brilliant brother in law said, “we’re all just trying to make it out here”. He’s right. We are. And that means that sometimes WE are the one being unkind. It means WE are the ones who screw up. It means WE are the ones who need to apologize. And it means WE are the ones who have to forgive and look with compassion at a situation that hurt us.