A Letter of Apology


I acknowledge and apologize for various mistakes and failures, as well as the pain and offense that I have caused. They have been the source of unmeasurable grief in the life of my friends and acquaintances. I present this apology to request an opportunity to reconcile with those of you that I have hurt and offended.

My Apology

I understand and acknowledge that I have wronged, hurt and offended quite a few people. For those of you for whom this is the case, you have every right to be angry and to want nothing further to do with me. I realize that no amount of apologizing, however sincere, can undo or make right these wrongs and I know that there is nothing that I can do to earn your favor. If you choose to forgive me, it is because you are showing me mercy and grace. I do not ask you to forgive me blindly, either; rather, I request that you let me take the first step in creating and building trust-based friendships.

In explaining some of my actions, I am not attempting to excuse or justify myself or to minimize or invalidate your feelings in any way. I know that the pain and offense that you feel is real and that I am responsible for it. I offer these explanations to show that I understand how and why I made these mistakes and to detail the steps that I am actively taking to avoid repeating them. I never intended to wrong you but intentions are meaningless in light of my failures and their effects on you.

I suffer with social anxiety when attempting to form new interpersonal relationships and from anxiety generally, especially around new and unfamiliar places and people. When speaking with people with whom I do not have a close interpersonal relationship, I tend to be overly self-conscious and rather awkward, and occasionally experience panic attacks.

I tend to make sweeping assumptions, jump to conclusions, overgeneralize, overstate, overreact and overreach when under stress or when facing conflict or potential conflict. This often becomes compounded when, under this pressure, I mix up or forget relevant facts.

One reason that I rarely share the wounds, scars, pains and sorrows of my past is because some people find it to be too much information, if not re-traumatizing considering their own experiences. In trying to be relational and helpful, particularly when trying to share the deeper things in my heart, I tend to overshare both personal information and general knowledge, coming across as off-putting, arrogant and a know-it-all rather than self-revealing, self-effacing and assisting. When expressing my knowledge, understanding or feelings, I am sometimes taken to be lecturing rather than informational, correcting rather than helpful or condescending rather than motivating. Although I try to avoid it, I occasionally slip into these attitudes and patterns without realizing it until it is to late.

Although it is not my intention to make you uncomfortable, I understand that I do so. By acknowledging and actively keeping myself aware of these tendencies, I generally can control and mitigate against them; however, I still fail, miserably at times, and that recently on several occasions.

I struggle with depression. Rather than fully surrendering my emotions, wounds and scars to Jesus, I recently experimented self-medicating with various antidepressants beginning last summer. In addition, I consume a glass or two of wine almost every evening, having done so for most of my adult life. Not immediately realizing the impact that it could have, I made the further mistake of taking antidepressants directly with alcohol on several occasions last October. While neither one of these were a problem in and of itself, the interaction between the antidepressants and alcohol resulted in personality and character changes (some being very negative), mood swings, impaired cognition and judgment (including a general state of confusion and mental "fog"), a loss in critical self-filtering in certain areas and an increased tendency to assume the worse.

Throughout the preceding several months, I had listened to and received in confidence the distortions, deceits and lies of others regarding a certain person's opinions and sentiments regarding me rather than speaking to and asking that person themself in spite of the disapproving naysayers. In this condition of impaired judgment, I ill-received and poorly handled further information and misinformation, which I should have verified directly between the persons involved rather than blindly accepting and reacting to it. I acted on patently bad advice that was designed to make the situation worse, not recognizing that people who I thought to be my friends were actively mocking me, taking advantage of the situation for their pleasure. Having given my word to protect their identity, I cannot even hold these deceivers and liars accountable.

In response to the resulting stress and inner conflict fueled by the impaired judgment, as well as acting on the bad advice, I had conversations with various persons and wrote emails in which I said things that, in my normal state, are uncharacteristic of me and I would have never even entertained otherwise. I grossly imposed personal information outside of the context of a sufficiently established friendship. I inappropriately offered advice and opinions, at times taking a confrontational position with a "standoffish" attitude. I alternated between being effusive, maudlin and desperate on the one hand and cavalier, calloused and demeaning on the other. I assumed the worst in several situations, misinterpreting the reactions of several people as offense, anger, malice and rejection; and, now that the mental fog has cleared, I can see that originally there was none, my response to my misperceptions creating and escalating that which I feared. I waited too long to act on my feelings and instincts and I allowed my fears and frustrations to manifest as unkindness.

I value my word over everything. Regardless of the cost, I will do everything within my power to keep my word, even losing my life. I have made career and life-altering decisions to keep my word, at times to the chagrin and consternation of others. I am human and I make mistakes: sometimes I fail to perform to the expectations of others and myself and sometimes I forget previous or make mutually exclusive commitments. This being said, I will never knowingly or willingly fail to keep my word. People may think of me as they will and hold whatever opinion that they may have but I never want it to be rightly said that I cannot be trusted to keep my word.

Recently for the first time in a very long time, I failed to keep my word on several occasions because of the impaired judgment resulting from the interaction between the antidepressants and alcohol. In one instance, I violated a confidence and shared information that I ought not have, communicating out of turn when it was rightly expected that I would not, causing trouble for those involved. On another occasion I did something when I had explicitly said that I would not. I did not intend to violate my word. I was unaware at the time that I was doing so but I did so nonetheless.

In attempting to handle the messes that I had created, I subjected myself to the manipulation, bullying, intimidation, threats and attempted gaslighting of others. Acting rashly out of fear of reprisal and in response to these threats, I gave my word not to apologize for or explain my actions or circumstances directly on my own initiative or to reveal the identity of some of the persons involved, effectively tying my hands and taking the full fall for the effect of their lies to us and about us, as well as leaving myself without any reasonable or otherwise provable explanation or defense. I have wanted to accept responsibility and apologize for my actions directly and in person since I realized what I had done, especially creating the adverse condition resulting from self-medication and immediately following my sending certain emails, but I have been bound by my word not to do so on my own initiative.

In the past I have lost friends and girlfriends because of their sudden, accidental death and that was painful; however, the consequences of these mistakes are far worse because I contributed to my being rejected from even starting potential relationships, both friendly and romantic, as well as to a series of events that lead to the death of my best friend and then future wife.

In the end, I failed to show Jesus' love and to trust Him as my defender, acting out of my neediness, desperation and self-interest in so many situations.

Taking antidepressants directly with alcohol was patently stupid. I hurt the feelings and offended the sensibilities of and angered people for whom I care very deeply, creating what I fear to be deep wounds, if not permanent scars. I am ashamed of myself for wronging you, as well as for putting myself in this position and failing in this regard. Recognizing this mistake, I have quit self-medicating with antidepressants entirely, opting for a more natural, regular course of nutritional supplements with heavy, exhausting physical exercise under the care and guidance of my physician; practicing mindfulness, meditation and mind-body exercises; engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy; and ensuring that I do not consume alcohol to excess. I am no longer suffering from the aforementioned symptoms and my depression has greatly improved and continues to do so.

I wept over these mistakes every day for well over a month and I couldn't stop. I'm only now barely at the point where I can reflect on these incidents without being utterly and uncontrollably overwhelmed and consumed by my shame and grief, not crying myself to sleep as I consider the pain and heartache that I caused. My single greatest regret in all of this is that I gave you offense and sorrow. All the remorse for my bad choices, wrong actions and the trouble that I have caused cannot undo them. I thank God that the effects and consequences of this were felt only by some and that more relationships were not impacted. I have several relationships ranging from friendly acquaintance to long-term friendship that have been badly damaged, if not irreparably destroyed, with several people deciding that it was easier and safer to cut ties with me. I do not blame you. I only blame myself. I deserve nothing and expect nothing, and you owe me nothing.

I am not making excuses for my choices or actions. I am not bound to make mistakes because of my conditions. I acknowledge and accept that I am fully and unconditionally responsible for my choices and actions, as well as their consequences, even those that were a result of my impaired judgment.

I am human and as fallen and deeply marred by sin as any. I miserably fail to display God's image in so many ways and areas of my life. I have and probably will continue to make mistakes and fail. This is not an excuse, just an acknowledgment. I can state with a clear conscience that I did not willingly or knowingly hurt or offend any of you. While I cannot promise that I will never make another mistake or fall short of God's glory yet again, I give you my word that I will never willingly or knowingly hurt or offend you and that if I do make a mistake, I will acknowledge it and do my best to never repeat it. Specifically, I will continue to be more context appropriate, self-limiting and self-editing in the future. I will speak to you directly rather than to others regarding you. I will choose to believe the best rather than entertain and harbor fears of the worst. I never again will self-medicate with antidepressants or take antidepressants with alcohol.

This process, like all trials, has proven to provide lessons in disguise. I have learnt that I still manifest all the social fears and negative patterns that I developed in elementary through early high school and that I need to continue to actively address them. I have learnt why it is important to stay active in my spiritual, social and community circles, even while I am still cut off for mistakes made from yet hurting friends and acquaintances. I have learnt that even though a willingness to expose vulnerability has its own kind of appeal, a smile is still more attractive than tears. I have re-learnt and remembered that only in Jesus will my deepest longings be fulfilled, my hurts comforted and my scars healed. I have been reminded that only when Jesus completes me and makes me whole can I truly enjoy satisfying, healthy relationships with others.

In all this I still have many things for which to be thankful. I am thankful for friends who choose to see as desirable the me beneath the wretched exterior. I am thankful for those who with keen perception say the tough things that I never want to hear. I am thankful for those who make themselves available to commiserate with me, sometimes taking hours at a time to listen when I need a shoulder on which to cry. I am thankful for those who defend me when I am not present to do so for myself, some going so far as serving as mediators and peacemakers, helping to mend broken relationships. I am thankful for friends who remain faithful even when I fail for proving that true friends are a golden treasure. I am thankful for a Savior who has never left me nor forsaken me, lovingly chastising me and drawing me back close to Him, even when I for a season went my own way.

My Plea

To those of you whom I have hurt and offended, I apologize for both the wrongness of the actions themselves and the pain and trouble that I have caused. Please forgive me. I cannot stress enough how deeply sorry that I am. I wish that could go back and undo these mistakes. I wish that I had never taken antidepressants with alcohol. I wish that I could take back certain words, never having had certain conversations or having written certain emails. I wish that I could start over from the beginning and rather than having heeded negative voices and lying tongues, have lived in love rather than walked in fear. I know that I cannot, so I simply apologize and give you my word that I will do my best to avoid repeating these mistakes.

If you will permit me, I would like to acknowledge the specific wrongs that I have committed against you, answering any questions and addressing any concerns that you may have. I will take whatever steps are necessary to assure you and to ensure for myself that I will avoid repeating these mistakes.

For those of you with whom I have damaged our relationship, I want to try to repair and rebuild it, if not replace it if necessary, if you are willing. Please do not hold a grudge or nurture bitterness, resentment, hatred or unforgiveness in your heart, or continue to nurse an open, unaddressed wound; rather, please remember any positive qualities that you once noticed in me and any warm and kind thoughts that you once held towards me, choosing to let go of the pain and offense and allowing the wounds to begin to heal. I would like another chance to build a friendship with you. I ask you for mercy and that you give me another opportunity to be a part of your life. If not, I understand: it is all my sorrow and fault.

To those of you who have already forgiven me, working to maintain and as necessary repair a relationship with me despite my conditions, awkwardness, shortcomings, mistakes and failures, and especially those who have gently, patiently and lovingly while firmly and uncompromisingly advised, corrected and admonished me as friends, thank you! I am awed by your amazing love and acceptance, which I greatly appreciate!

To all of you in any case, I appreciate you and all that you have done for me, as well as the relationships that I have enjoyed with you.

Published December 3, 2016.
Significantly Updated February 10, 2017 and April 29, 2017

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James Reed

Love has EVERYTHING to do with it, all you need is love!

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