I moved out to CT in '09, at age 19, because I'd been dis-satisfied with the way my friendships were turning out in TN, where I'd lived for over a decade.
Joined a church, made some friends, everything was hunky-dory.
Particular 2 friends were a young couple just a few years older than me. They were awesome, basically gave me an open-door invitation to hang out with them, which was great for this young, single guy who loves quality time spent with people.
Couple of years go by, some weird friendship things start happening again. Nothing I'm able to articulate at the time, just a sense of barriers being put up. Not so much by the young couple (Dan and Joanna, btw), just by others.
So I thought I was cool with them.
Then, one evening, I was over at their house for a bible study with some other friends. We were studying James, if I'm not mistaken. Long story short, I leaned on their wooden table (one of those things with a single central column as opposed to multiple legs, but a big one) and it collapsed. Complete accident.
I said sorry, looked at it and saw that it had a previous weak spot, and that was that.
After the study, everyone went out for coffee. But Joanna seemed...peeved. And I noticed this only near the end of the hangout. Everyone else eventually left, and Dan, Joanna, and I were walking to our respective cars, when I said, "Are you still mad about the table?"
Joanna rounded on me, and proceeded to give me a talking-to like I'd never gotten:
"No it's not that the table broke, it's that your apology was half-assed and you gave an excuse saying the table was weak instead of apologizing for real. Then you didn't offer to help repair it or pay for repairs. I wouldn't have cared if you'd been legitimately sorry. But that table was a hand-made gift from my parents for our wedding which I told you about, and you didn't seem to care (this was very true)."
Then she proceeded to tell me five or six ways that I'd been dismissive of her and Dan's feelings on multiple occasions, not taking seriously the time they were giving me, cancelling on workouts with Dan even though he took time off work on those days to coach me...
There were quite a few things, all of which were absolutely fair, and NONE of which I was aware of. I was that self-focused. Here I thought I was all about friendship and stuff, but I'd never put myself in their shoes or tried to have empathy. It just didn't register.
After this, I was stunned. I swear, God kept telling me to shut my mouth even though my (natural) tendency was to be defensive. This is one of the very few times that I would say I have "heard" God. And He was telling me to shut the hell up and listen, because she was right and I had been a jerk.
So finally I choked out "Can we go to the car?" I needed a few seconds to think, and also there were a couple of random people sitting at the outdoor tables near us that probably heard everything (which, in retrospect, was probably really weird for them).
When we got to their car, I broke down and apologized. REALLY apologized. Not just about the table (because it wasn't about that, really), but about everything. Asked for help for maybe the first real time in my life. I'd been SUCH an asshole.
All this backstory to lead up to this:
Dan and Joanna both hugged me for a long time, said I was like their little brother, that they hadn't wanted to drop all that on me at once, but they couldn't take it anymore. Prayed with me, and promised to keep spending time with me and forgave me.
I ended up fixing the table myself, and I did a hell of a job They never brought up past issues again, just made sure to let me know if they felt like I was lacking empathy in the moment. And over the next few months, I learned to be a much more considerate person.
My friendships with other people got a lot better as a result. And I continue to work on being sure to think how others are feeling.
That was one of the best/worst nights of my life, and I'm glad it happened. So I guess it answers a few of those questions, actually, but whatever. I'll just say it answered the first
Forget existential dread: what's the most existentially exciting thing that's ever occurred to you?
Most ironic thing that's ever happened to you?
What is something you did that you once deeply regretted, but now are glad you did?
Moment from your life you've revisited a million times, and why.
EDIT: Geez this was long.