Apologies are fascinating creatures. Recognizing a strong enough connection to another living soul to the point that when a transgression is committed, we feel remorse. Not only that, but we are willing, forced, or convinced in acknowledging something severe enough to be a transgression. And then, we stare down the barrel of the loaded gun of choice: do something about it, leave it be, or double down on the sin.
Such a funny thing.
What do we do? What would you do? Do we begin a self-analysis? Justification? How about rallying the circle of support to your cause—blindly thinking numbers will change the situation at all? Are we victims of pride or circumstance? Perhaps it’s about right or wrong, and suddenly we work to develop our case before presenting to a judge and the jury of our loving peer(s). Maybe we feel the purity of our position, or we see the rationale and logic more clearly.
You see? Now we’ve turned something honest and real into an engine of bureaucracy. In a few paragraphs, we’re now digging the rabbit hole deeper, all for the sake of comfort, ideals, and position.
But ask yourself this: how many times has it mattered whether you could clarify, quantify, or fully understand why you’re remorseful? Suppose you found the courage to live in the acknowledgment for a while and went further to follow through with facing it and even further still rose above the muck to seek an honest resolution with those you hurt. How often did it matter how strongly you fortified your position? Was winning the most crucial thing in the end?
You know, I’m sure that there are many instances where the answers to all those are yes. Along with plenty of times for no. I’ve experienced both. There’ve been times I’ve been right, wrong, irrelevant, blind, ignorant, justified, or any other variable. However, when I’m the one who did the wronging, no matter how I play it, the power in the experience always manifests as reverberations in my soul. Truths resounding deep inside, not care about red tape.
And for me, I do quite well at denying them when I’m choosing a particular brand of stubbornness. But eventually, I can’t ignore them. If I don’t face them and work at repairing the damage, I know innately that I’ll lose myself.
Enter the other half of this musing: that of the other party involved.
Were they even hurt or offended at all? How much of my action actually played out in their world? Did they also contribute to the transgression, breaking me in turn? At what point are we playing with accountability, responsibility, or the need for a formal apology? Or, have I seriously misjudged the potential severity of my actions/words/behaviors and blown them out of proportion?
Or, in a dangerous train of thought—as long as it’s one-sided—was my participation righteous, my fury or anger appropriate, or my reaction entirely within limits?
Again, we fall into bureaucracy. Again, we’re working with elements beyond our control and beyond our scope of understanding without help. I don’t get to determine where the other person is coming from. I’m not responsible for their reactions or feelings. And I have no say in how they receive any subsequent information from me.
Though personally, this shouldn’t stop me from caring about their feelings, expressing empathy/sympathy to their situation, or doing everything in my power to see their life respected, supported, and reinforced in the best ways.
I also believe this shouldn’t come at the sacrifice of morality, ethics, or truth. I know from personal experience that the farther I run from looking at my reflection in the mirror, the faster it becomes until I’ll run right into it going the other direction.
Apologies are funny things.
The last part of this musing comes in the form of acceptance. While apologies start in one and move to another, once they’re sent, that’s it. They no longer belong to us. And unless those they’re destined for provide a chance for us to join them on their side, we’re left with less on ours, hoping everything we felt, everything we want, and everything we hope is achieved in translation.
We’ve come to expect that just because we apologize, it’s “good form” for the recipient to automatically say it’s ok, thereby alleviating the transgressor from feeling any more pain. This simply is not correct, and it’s poisonous thinking. If something grew to the point that such remorse couldn’t be avoided, then in what world do we think that we’re entitled to an immediate forgiving? That completely defeats the entire purpose of our journey through life, especially as it concerns relationships, commitment, and experience.
Without vulnerability, hope, and that awkward hole waiting for something to fill it, we’ll never understand just how deeply we care about who we’re focusing on. And if we’re unaware of how much they mean to us, then they’ll never know it.
And now we come full circle. I’ve had a rough year, and I’ve lashed out in my anger, bitterness, agony, and misery at those I love the most. I also think it’s funny how we do that. And up until early this last week, my stubbornness had me believing every single decision I’d made was right, appropriate, justified, and that every one my wrath was triggered against needed to come to terms with their actions.
My goodness, how far we can fall. In case you’re experiencing something similar, let me give you a little advice: all those things you feel are the responsibility of others are nothing more than how you’re feeling about yourself. And the sooner you come to terms with that, the sooner you can bring light and laughter back into your life, and hopefully, you can repair those relationships as you want to.
I’m grateful for those who took the time to listen to my heart’s pain, hear me, and stay in my corner despite my tragedy. They’re also the ones who managed to talk some sense into my nonsensical warpath. But right now, I’m crying inside over those I’ve hurt and those who are no longer speaking with me. Apologies have been sent, with some still to go. Some are being sent many times, and I hope one day to hear their voice again. I hope to apologize to their faces and then work at making it up to them. Some may be unaware of where my feelings and thoughts were going, and those deserve no less than my best apologies, too.
And then there are those caught in the middle. Not necessarily the cause, nor the end, but nevertheless stuck and caught in what I choose to bring and keep with me. I owe them apologies too.
So to all of you, I’m sorry. From the bottom of my heart, I apologize for taking you for granted, lashing out, accusing you of inaccurate or false things, holding unrealistic and harmful expectations over your heads, my ignorance and inability to help you bear your burdens, and for acting like I was guiltless.
I know that a public apology is one thing, and I plan to make sure I handle each in person, or at the very least, directly. If you know I’ve done something against you and I’m not moving fast enough for your tastes, let me know, and I’ll make it happen.
Apologies are curious to me, but I know why they’re so important. Because those I care for most shouldn’t be hurt by me just because I’m hurting. Despite the ideal, I know such occurrences will happen; such is life. So thank goodness for remorse, guilt, and the opportunity to apologize and heal. I hope that those I’m reaching out to see me as a worthy investment and worth their time to come back to.
I hope. And life goes on.