I was getting ready to head out for a night of holiday festivities when my phone rang. I recognized the area code but not the number. “Hello?,” I answered. “Hi Ebonie, this is Tyler. Do you have a few minutes?,” he asked. I told him I did. I was so shocked that he called that I had to hear what he wanted to say.
“I don’t really know where to start but I just want to tell you, I am sorry.” He didn’t need to explain what he was sorry for. The sincerity and vulnerability in his voice said he fully understood how much he’d hurt me—and how much he was sorry for it.
Three months earlier in my Brooklyn apartment we had a small disagreement that turned into an unbearable fight that brought what seemed to be incredible yet short-lived romance to an end. That night was the last time I saw him. I never expected to speak to him again. Hearing his voice on the other end, in this tone was brand new for me. A man who screwed me over, calling to apologize? Ha. For a second I thought I was being ‘Punk’d.’ Yet as badly as things ended between Tyler and I, and as much as I hated him afterwards, I felt nothing but genuine compassion for him at that moment. It wasn’t just his admission of guilt that struck me; it was the compassion he showed for hurting me.
You see, I’ve been done wrong—-all kinds of wrong. I’ve been cheated on across state lines. I’ve been unsupported during some of the most significant occasions of my life. I’ve even been stalked and harassed by the girlfriend of a man who conveniently forgot to tell me he had a girlfriend at all. She was ‘just someone he did business with.’ Awesome, huh? Don’t get me wrong; I’ve had my moments of being overbearing, nagging or even, err, suffocating. But I’m accountable for those things. However, the hurt I‘ve experienced from men is mutually exclusive from anything I’ve contributed to.
Why does it matter if they come back to apologize? It matters because I’m human. Human beings hurt. It’s an awful feeling to be emotionally wounded by a man you care for, only for that pain to be compounded by actions that show he just doesn’t give a damn. No apology. No comfort. I’m just left to hurt. I’ve questioned if some of the men I’ve had relationships with even cared for me at all. After all, who knowingly hurts someone they care about and never reconciles that pain?
It was EBONY.com MANifest panelist Jermaine Spradley who validated my gripe with men and their reluctance to atone for the pain they cause women. Spradley stated, “What we end up not doing as Black men is taking responsibility for what we do to Black women emotionally…how we treat the women we deal with romantically is a big problem in the African American male community.” Amen?! Amen.
Now do you understand why Tyler’s apology means so much? It means he has a heart. It means he does care after all. It means that he is a man— a real man. His acknowledgment of his hurt to me has completely opened my eyes. It takes a big person to admit their wrong but an even bigger person to resolve it. I understand it’s scary for a man to be that vulnerable. However, the reward of helping to restore a woman’s heart makes him a better man for it. I imagine if more men, Black men, took this integral step to make sincere apologies to the Black women they’ve hurt, there would be less bitter, angry behavior out there. Perhaps more Black love could exist in a healthy way.
“Thank you Tyler,’ I began, ‘I really appreciate your apology. You have no idea what this means to me.” With a sigh of relief he replied, “I realized what I did was wrong and how much it must have hurt you. I really just wanted to make sure you knew that. Again. I am sorry.”