My Name Is Earl (Mea Culpa)

I never watched My Name Is Earl, but I think I have a handle on the concept. It’s the story of a man who regrets the things that he did in his past because of the long term consequences of those actions. So he’s going from person to person that he’s hurt in various ways to apologize. I bet we all have people that we’d like to apologize to or things that we’d like to apologize for. One of the things that keeps us from doing it is the embarrassment and shame that we feel for how we acted. After writing this blog for over a year I have a confession to make. I have no shame left. It’s actually quite liberating to lose your fear of condemnation. I highly recommend it. With that in mind, I’d like to share my Earl list.

I need to start with a carte blanche apology to just about everyone who has ever known me. This is especially applicable to parents, teachers, family and friends throughout my life. I’m sorry for being such a smart ass. It seems to stem from insecurity. Sometimes I did it to make myself look smart and make you feel dumb so that you could see how smart I must be. I didn’t know it at the time, but that’s the truth of it. I’m sorry. Other times I would do it to get attention and try to be funny. This was a pain for the people around me, especially if they weren’t in the mood or it was an inappropriate time or place. In fact, my efforts to get a laugh probably hurt more people than all of the other things I’ve done combined. I’m sorry.

To my parents – I’m sorry for making things so hard for you. I can remember periods of my life where I was earning a spanking what felt like every day. That couldn’t have been easy for you. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for my 8th grade year where I dropped out of the after school football workout program and lied about it. What you didn’t know is that Patrick and I were spending our time stealing cases of baseball cards and other things from Eckerd’s and Walgreens.

I’m sorry for being such a pain at school and forcing you to have to deal with so many teach conferences and weekly progress reports. I’m sorry for wasting all of the money that you saved up for me to go to school. It was only after I was paying my own bills that I took it seriously. I guess lastly I’m sorry for not reaching my potential. I killed off too many brain cells in my college days to even truly know what my potential was, but I know that you tried very hard to set me up for success and I just wasn’t on the same page.

To my teachers, oh my poor teachers, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry for being a know-it-all and I’m sorry for assuming that you didn’t know anything. I’m sorry for being so disrespectful. I’m sorry for asking questions that were deliberately difficult in an effort to trip you up. I’m sorry for not listening, for talking back, for not following instructions and for lying. I apologize for being a distraction and an all-around nuisance. I know now how much you sacrificed and how much you put up with and how disappointed you must have been with me. I’m sorry.

I need to apologize to my brothers as well. Bob – I’m sorry for hiding out in the bathroom during our outdoor chores. I’m sorry for being a tattle tale and I’m sorry for breaking your leg. More importantly, I’m sorry for looking down on you when we were growing up. I tried to disassociate so that I would have a different experience. In the end I think that you embraced who you were going to be much sooner than I did. As I write this I realize that it was probably more hurtful due to the fact that I was being judgmental of the person that you really wanted to be while I was doing nothing more than wearing a mask to hide from the same treatment by others. As it turns out, we are more alike than I ever guess. If I had embraced that earlier then life would have been easier and better for both of us.

Michael, I’m sorry that I was so consistently hard on you for so many years. I never gave you a break did I? I’ve always had a thing about needing things to be fair. I felt like you were using your situation to get away with things that I could never have gotten away with and I resented it. I was determined not to give in and not to allow you to get away with it. Obviously this caused strife. I think the worst of it is that I was throwing the baby out with the bathwater. When you were really hurt or really struggling I didn’t respond the way that I should have because of my predisposition against you. That was wrong and I’m sorry.

Things changed when we got older. I fell into a trap of judgment. This is an easy one for me to fall into of course since I’m obviously so perfect (:rolleyes:). I didn’t respect any of your decisions or your efforts. To be fair, I’m allowed to disagree with you but it’s the lack of respect that I’m sorry for. We all make the decisions that we think are best. As adults that’s our right. I never treated you like an adult though. I never gave you any credit. That was wrong and I’m sorry for it. I really do hope that you have found your piece of happiness in this world, and if you haven’t yet then don’t panic. I’m living proof that it’s possible to turn things around and get where you want to go.

I’ve written in the past about what I was like in my early twenties so I won’t go into it again. But I have to apologize to the people at work who were forced to deal with me on a daily basis. I actively worked to lead you astray. Many of you were happy, trying to live full lives. But when you came in contact with me I would sow seeds of discontent. I would use relentless logic and questioning and make you doubt your situations and yourselves. I know it’s horrible, that’s why I’m so sorry for it. I probably regret that as much as anything in my life. Lesson learned for all of us…never take advice from a person who’s hurting and doesn’t have their act together.

Lastly I have to admit that the person I feel that I need to apologize the most to is myself. I wasted so much time, potential and energy. I thought I was strong but I was weak. I chased after empty relationships to try and obtain some measure of self-esteem. I lied to myself and everyone around me about who I was, trying to be something that I wasn’t. I don’t know exactly what life would have been like if I lived it to the fullest. I’m sorry that I’ll never find out. I will settle for who I am now though. I’m committing to make the best of what I have left at my disposal even if part of that is a cautionary tale for traps and pitfalls to avoid.

Be blessed

Jonathan

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Posted on February 25, 2012, in Personal Development and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Thanks for the apology. You were an ass to me almost the whole time we associated with each other. Glad you grew out of that. Humble suits you. I am ever presently amazed at the adults we all grew up to be. Some for the better, some for the worse. You are firmly in the former category. Cheers!

  2. Hi L

    I believe you and I’d like to say directly to you that I’m sorry for it. Earlier in the article I said that I have no shame left. That’s not exactly true. I’m very much ashamed at the way that I treated the people around me. It grieves me and words don’t do it justice. It’s true that what goes around comes around. I can imagine exactly how I made people feel by how i’ve been made to feel. I think that’s what makes it more real.

    i hope that you are living a blessed and happy life today.

    Jonathan

  3. It saddens me to think you feel like,you are settling. You seem to have learned so much about yourself especially what you don’t like. If I may suggest, I think you need to learn forgiveness. Forgive those who have hurt you but also forgive yourself. You’ve learned, you’ve grown and you’ve matured but everyone has regrets. Still… you learned early in life who you don’t want to be so now concentrate on who you want to be. Be the great husband, son, brother, friend and mentor each of us know respectively. Live the blessed life you’ve been given! Jennifer

  4. Thanks for the kind words Jen and happy early 9th birthday 🙂

    I know you can’t tell it from this particularly article, but I have definitely forgiven myself. I don’t hold onto these things and let them weigh me down any longer. Once upon a time I did, but I learned that you have to drop your burdens if your dream is to fly with the eagles.

    I wrote this mostly for the people who would read it for three particular reasons. First, to build stronger bonds with the people around me who can benefit from hearing me admit to my mistakes. Second, for the people like L. above who were impacted by me in the hopes that it will give them a measure of peace or closure in some small way. Then third I wrote it because I know there are people who can’t or haven’t forgiven themselves for things in their past. I wrote it because I want people to see that it’s ok that things weren’t always perfect and that even though I’ve done things that I regret today it doesn’t mean that I have to be a prisoner to that past. I believe there’s a power in sharing both success and failure, we’re encouraged by each others successes, but also by our failures, particularly when enough time has passed to allow the emotion to be removed so that it can be safely examined to see what we can learn from it.

  5. Just read this…I’m still waiting for the apology for all the spankings I got because you lied to Dad saying that I did things you actually did and he couldn’t tell which of us was lying. Though I will say that (and many other things that you mention above) had a profound affect on me. I learned to let things go because of you. I learned not to hold things against people I love for very long. You can’t live life like that–I least I can’t. I learned that sometimes you just gotta let it go. I always knew that I was never going to stop trying to be a good brother no matter what crap you pulled.

    And you are correct. I figured out who I was much earlier than you did. I didn’t know what to do with that knowledge, but I knew who I was. My lessons came hard when I strayed from who I was…when I tried something different and wasn’t true to myself. And yeah…it would have been a heck of a lot more peaceful for both of us if you had accepted yourself for who you were a very long time ago!

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