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You won’t grow as much as you could

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A couple of weeks ago, I heard a rumor that Brad Pitt, in the midst of his divorce from his current wife, Angelina Jolie, reached out to his first wife, Jennifer Aniston, to apologize. It was a rumor and obviously I wasn’t privy to the conversation, but a source told In Touch that Pitt has been “determined to apologize for everything he put her through, and that’s exactly what he did. It was the most intimate conversation Brad and Jen have ever had.”

During the conversation they said Pitt apologized for his affair with Angelina to being an absentee husband who was often stoned and bored throughout the course of their marriage.

The apology reportedly allowed them to reach a “level of closeness they never thought possible.”

Honestly, the whole thing made me roll my eyes. One, it just sounds like some bullsh*t. Who was there during the most intimate conversation these two have ever had? And the second part?…We’ll get to that later.

How did Jennifer Aniston react to this alleged apology? According to the report, “Jen was overcome with emotion. All the hurt feelings and resentment she’d suppressed for years came flooding to the surface, and she broke down in tears.”

I’m rolling my eyes not because the reaction seems like an unnatural one. It’s possible. But I doubt after said apology, Brad and Jennifer reached a new level of closeness. After over a decade of being the recipient of endless questions about the end of their marriage, years of watching your ex parade around with his new woman and eventually wife, and being the brunt of quite few jokes and the target of America’s collective sympathy, was she really trying to hear it? I know I wouldn’t be. Apologies are great. They’re cathartic, they validate emotions and prove that someone is not a heartless sociopath. But I’d argue that at a certain point, they don’t really amount to much. And they are not essential to forgiveness.

The other day I read a tweet from writer Jamilah Lemieux. She was responding to someone who asked for advice about how to forgive someone who never gave an apology. Lemieux tweeted.

It’s an interesting concept. And I’ll honor her wishes and not tweet her but I still disagree. I think people are of the mindset that forgivness requires someone other than yourself. I would argue that rarely is forgiveness an exercise that includes more than one person. Most of the time when we do people dirty, it’s too hard to admit that our shortcomings caused us to hurt or harm another human being.

For that reason, I think it’s healthier to assume you’re not going to get an apology so that instead of sitting around waiting for one, being shocked and appalled that someone could be so heartless, you focus that energy on healing yourself. And contrary to what Lemieux said I don’t see how that’s possible without forgiveness. If you don’t forgive someone, that means you’re still hurt by what they’ve done to you. It haunts you. There’s a twinge or a wince in your spirit whenever someone calls that person’s name. What type of peace is it that the mere mention of someone can create unrest in your body? I think people think forgiveness equates with you condoning the behavior or interacting with that person again somewhere down the line. It doesn’t though. Forgiveness is no longer allowing what someone did to you to affect you. While I don’t think forgiveness is possible in every situation, I don’t understand how you achieve peace without it.

That’s why this Brad and Jennifer thing is so outlandish.

I would hope that now that she’s married a new man, kept moving forward in her career that Jennifer Aniston was not sitting by the phone waiting for her ex husband to call and apologize to her. Sometimes, a lot of times, we have to do the work of forgiveness and moving on without an apology. And once you’ve done that heavy lifting, what’s an apology?

We saw the perfect example of an apology not meaning much when Adrienne Bailon apologized to Naturi Naughton for the way she treated her back in their 3LW days. It was clear that Bailon was expecting some type of Oprah cry moment. But after attending college, establishing herself as an actress, starring on a hit tv show, and getting ready to give birth to her first child, the last thing Naturi was thinking about was what happened to her when she was a teenager singing about ballers, players and haters. It’s done. Been done.

She told the crew at Hot 97 that she was upset with Adrienne and it wasn’t that she didn’t appreciate the apology, it just wasn’t something she required.

“I had let go of any animosity towards her, towards the group, because it had been like 15 years. But for me it was more like, I appreciate that. It was a difficult time and I just tried to receive it and let her know that I’m moving forward and as women we should both be able to do our separate things.”

There it is. Imagine if Naturi had been waiting for an apology from Adrienne and Kiely. There’s a good chance she wouldn’t have been able to achieve what she has carrying around a 15-year-old burden.

Personally, I’ve watched my sister’s ex boyfriend, who is now married, apologize over and over and over again for the way he ended their relationship. I mean, it’s inappropriate at this point. And I can tell you that more than feeling validated or acknowledged, my sister has felt uncomfortable and even pitied his persistence.

The way she tells it, he’s still apologizing because his actions and behavior are still weighing heavily on his conscience in ways they simply aren’t for her. Which makes me wonder about the type of apology that would come after too many years. Is it for the other person or is it to absolve yourself of guilt?

There’s a window when breakups still hurt you. During that time an apology can be effective and helpful in your healing. But after a while, I wonder if it’s just pomp and circumstance.

Veronica Wells is the culture editor at MadameNoire.com. She is also the author of “Bettah Days.” You can follow her on Facebook and on Instagram and Twitter @VDubShrug.

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