–by Abby Acceturra
Recently I had a conversation with my partner that turned into an argument, and not the kind of argument that’s easily solved. He said something off-hand that I took too seriously; I responded to it in a way that triggered a landmine of his own personal histories. He reacted in defense and out of anxiety, feeling that I was pushing on a spot that was already sore for him; I felt ostracized by the way that he pushed back in retaliation.
It went from a simple, innocuous comment to a landslide of our own insecurities in minutes, and it ended with us taking the next 24 hours to be apart from each other and sort through our own thoughts before coming back together.
Things had gotten so out of hand so quickly that neither of us quite knew what was going on. In the time that we took to ourselves to process things, there were only two things that I knew for certain: that we love each other and that we had hurt each other. Romans 12:3 says “not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment”—in that moment, the only judgment I was able to make was that we’d both been wounded.
COMING BACK TOGETHER
In general, I’m quick to anger. I’m temperamental, argumentative and hard to handle; I’m proud and stubborn. I never like to be told that I’m wrong. Nobody does. But hearing my partner’s voice when we spoke the next day, hearing the hurt and the fear and the fragility there, I couldn’t have cared less about being wrong or being right. I loved this person, and I hurt him. He loved me, and he hurt me. What else is there to do after that other than put your heart in your hands and beg forgiveness? What else is there to do but grant forgiveness in return?
The level of defense that I bring to my day-to-day life doesn’t allow much space for giving or receiving forgiveness. I hold myself to a rigorous standard, and I measure others by the same bar. To admit fault is to admit weakness. It’s a struggle for me even to ask my partner for help when I need it. How on earth would I manage asking his forgiveness for a wound I inflicted? How would I bear the way he’d look at me, both of us knowing I’d lost control?
I was shaking by the time my partner and I came back together after our argument. Fear, hurt and the overwhelming sense of isolation that comes from not knowing where you stand with someone made me feel as if I couldn’t breathe. I stammered through the skeleton of an explanation, desperate to illustrate what had been going through my head, hoping it would land in a way that made sense.
He fumbled through an imitation of the same, trying to fit it in around the gangly bulk of what I tried to force out.
When the conversation came to a screeching stalemate, both of us raw and exposed, the apology came out of me without my even having to dig for it.
Please hear me. I’m sorry.
I love you.
Abby Accettura is an aspiring screenwriter and Masters of Fine Art candidate living in Los Angeles, California.
This article is excerpted from the October 2018 issue of Gather magazine. To read the full story or more like it, subscribe to Gather.