Yom Kippur's Big Ask: Forgiveness

Apologies Can Be Life-Changing for Both Giver and Receiver

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By Lenore Skenazy

Published September 11, 2013, issue of September 13, 2013.
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When Eileen T. was just 16, she was going out with a boy who spent most of his time talking about another girl, Betty. “I didn’t know Betty, but I started to resent her,” Eileen recalled. The more he talked about Betty, the more Eileen — who’d prefer not to give her last name — seethed.

Three years she spent hating Betty.

Then, on a first date with a new guy named Terry — who later became her husband — “We were talking,” Eileen said, “and he said, ‘I asked you out because Betty said you have a really bubbly personality and are really fun.’ I literally died in my seat.”

Suffused with guilt, surprise and gratitude — a nauseating cocktail — Eileen forced herself to call Betty and blurt out the weird truth: “I told her, ‘I went out on a date with Terry, and he said you told him nice things about me, and I needed to apologize because the whole time I was dating so-and-so he kept talking about you, and it made me not like you.’”

Betty’s response? “She was shocked and happy,” Eileen said. In fact, she appreciated Eileen’s honesty so much that the women grew very close. So close that Eileen was in Betty’s wedding (which was not to the man obsessed with her). And now the two are still dear friends — 29 years later.

And that, folks, is what we are here to talk about today: the power of an apology.


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