They say "time heals all wounds" but if you were the one to cause the wounds I disagree. The older and more self-aware I become the more sadness I am able to feel about the the harm I did to others in my younger years. I was so unconscious in my youth, driven by some internal script I could not see. Buried by fear and self-protection I hurt people I loved--not so much with "evil" deeds, more with leaving and not showing up and forgetting and disregarding. I was "oblivious."
Not much is shared about the pain felt by those who have done harm once they become awake to their impact. We have little compassion for such people.
But very few people consciously hurt others. We just stumble through life, blindly crashing into things. Until one day, some dear friend, some mentor gently and with love points out our impact. For me, that person took a long time to arrive. He said, "You impact others." For me, that was the basic misconception. I did not think I mattered, so how could what I did or say matter? You ned a certain sense of self to believe you have any power at all. I felt no such sense.
I do not suffer with these emotions. They move like waves through me,bringing tears. But the sadness also brings waves of compassion for those around me who hurt others unconsciously. The waves also remind me to do the awkward hard work of letting people know the impact they have. We need people to care enough to say, "You are better than this." As Marianne Williamson says "Our job with each other is to hold a space for each other's beauty when we forget."
Let's help the people we call bullies, abusers, thieves, vandals and addicts remember themselves. Through honesty and love let's remind them that they aren't the labels we give them. Each human has the potential to move beyond their habits of behavior, their self-destructive scripts. I am living proof.
Restorative Justice and Restorative Practices are based on this premise. Every 10-year-old bully or thief etc needs their community to remind them of their beauty, let them clearly know the impact of the harm, and give them a chance to restore themselves. Otherwise they will just keep crashing into things.