This post is a sort of follow up to my previous post, Forgiveness. The flip side, if you will.
Have you ever had to ask for mechilah? As in, really ask for it, not just to cover your bases in case there was some minor incident in December that you've both long forgotten anyway? It can be so hard, in so many ways. First of all, in a disagreement, there are usually two sides, and both feel they are in the right. In order to get to the level where one side can forgive the other, someone has to go first--swallow their own hurt, their pride, and humbly come to the other party and say, "I'm sorry, I did you wrong, and I know I hurt you. Please forgive me." Second, even if one side is willing and able to do that, sometimes the other side is still hurting too much to let that pain go, and if they're being honest, they won't just tell the other party that s/he is forgiven when it is not so. Then, the first party has two choices--accept that forgiveness has not been granted, and forget about it; or accept that forgiveness has not been granted, and try again later.
Recently, I had the experience of having to ask for mechilah from someone who was once a good friend. We'd lost contact since the disagreement, and I always felt the loss, so I asked her for mechilah finally many months ago when we chanced to meet. I was struck when I received the first "No" of my life; it stuck in my mind that I had perhaps received the most honest answer I ever had. So I tried again recently, since it is the season...and I got what I called for, b"H. It was the most liberating feeling, to know I had this girl's forgiveness. A huge weight was lifted from me. And it was hard--make no mistake. But it was completely, totally worth it.