He didn't hear back for a year or more. She eventually sent him a text and apologized. She told him where she got her information and that she didn't mean to cause harm. BJ and I both thought, "that was that".
Yesterday, I got another message. This one from her real account. It was short and simple. She said she apologized to (BJ), but the real person she needed to apologize to was me. She said she thought about it often and wished she had never done that.
I felt happy.
I've watched BJ be isolated from friends and family because of the stories that some people have told, and I feel sad for him. She'd already apologized to him though, which mattered to me a lot more than apologizing to me. Watching people hurt him has hurt me, so I very much appreciate the apology for that reason.
I felt angry.
Talking to friends, they helped me figure out that her apology reminded me of the hurt she'd caused. Her apology reminded me of all the messages and phone calls I got around that same time. Former members of my ward, people I didn't know and had never talked to, and they all knew what I needed to do. Hate-filled messages based on HUGE misinformation.
I felt confused.
I was chatting online with my friend David about it. What he said was so perfect, I'm just going to quote him.
"When a message that hateful is received, even if you know it’s not justified, you have to gird up, form a defense, position your view of yourself in such a way as to be able to look over your shoulder and discount it. It requires diligence, effort. When people take back their harsh words, you’re left with a gap between the defense you formed and the tentative embrace being offered. And because the fear initially felt in the face of such hatred was genuine, there’s almost nothing to do but fill that gap with diffidence, wariness."For years, I have been braced against the hateful messages that have come my way. With this one person's apology, I didn't have anything to brace against. I felt disoriented. I also didn't know what to do. I have never met this woman. Other than things BJ has told me, I know nothing about her. An apology makes me feel like I owe her something...
So, what now?
Since then, I sat down and talked to her for a long time. She apologized again. She also said it was good to see BJ doing things he loved, and she was glad he had someone to share the things he loves with. She turns out to be the kind of person I love talking to: no filter, she talks about whatever pops into her head, she is comfortable in her own skin, funny. She also happens to love the outdoors, camping, and mountains.
I may never talk to her again... It's just nice to know how things can go. Just because someone is judgmental, or mean, doesn't mean they will stay that way... I didn't worry about her in the two years between emails. I didn't think about what she said much. I just moved on, and when she was ready, and she felt like saying something, she did.