Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Apologies – what are they good for?

I received a call the other day from a distant relative (both in the family tree and geographically) who I had not spoken with or seen in nearly two decades. As with any out-of-the-blue call from a person from ones past I was excited but also skeptical. These are rarely the “hey I was just thinking about you” calls so I couldn’t help but wonder what was the real reason for the call. Turns out my cousin was calling to apologize for something that happened almost two decades ago when I was a young teen (very minor incident and one I never even knew took place). I think I actually laughed out loud, and knowing me I am sure it was a boisterous laugh, over being offered this apology. In part it struck me as crazy because I had no idea what she was even talking about and secondly, I could not believe this minor thing had been weighing on her mind and heart for so long. I probably lacked any sort of graciousness in the situation, again I laughed. It was important to her and I could have been more gentle and soft in my acceptance and forgiveness. Of course the problem was I really saw zero need for the apology and even less for forgiveness and this really had no impact on me then or now (like I said NO memory of the incident). In the end it was fun to catch up with her and reconnect with a distant family member.
But as with all things, it got me thinking….
Who is an apology ever really for? If you are truly regretful, isn’t the apology for you? You want to feel the burden of guilt lifted from your own back. Think about the words often used, “I need you to know how sorry I am.”
I need.
Yet, if the apology is really for the other person, could it not be offered even if you really are not sorry, or guilt ridden? But perhaps you just care about the other person enough to want them to feel better?

There are two people in my life I really have needed an apology from. When I explore why it is I need the apology I realize it is not about wanting them to accept blame or admit a wrong but it is because I need to know they really understand the hurt that was caused. I have needed them to know deep down in their bones what they did mattered. Perhaps it is not about getting the apology but rather the validation that my hurt was real. I guess at its core isn’t that was a true apology is all about, validating the emotional reaction to someone we have wronged?

On the flip side, how many times have you given your verbal forgiveness to someone because you love them and do not want to hurt them even though their words or actions are still causing you hurt? Why is it so hard to say, “I love you and know you love and care about me and I am thankful for that. I guess that is why I am so deeply hurt. I am sure we can heal in time, because we care and love each other.” Instead, so often we offer up, “It’s fine.”

I think this is where you draw the line between real relationships and encounters. In a true relationship one where love and respect are actually present, there is honesty. Where everyone can honestly say,
I am sorry I hurt you.
I forgive you.
I love you.

Oh, and just in case you read this and think perhaps I am living some quiet, contemplative life here; I just looked up from my laptop and saw Rock Star eat a bugger. Now I will go vomit.

No comments:

hit counter
Get a hit counter here.