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Nothing to do with this post, really.  Just a serene picture.

Nothing to do with this post, really. Just a serene picture.

I was thinking…

And, anyone who knows me is laughing hysterically.  When are you not thinking? they ask, shaking their heads.  It’s true.  I spend a great deal of time in my own head but it’s not such a bad place to be.

Anywho…I was thinking and it was a sci-fi novel I was reading that got my mind working.  One of the characters had to apologize and the writer had the recipient of said apology remark on the lack of the word ‘but’.  This got me thinking…

…and I remembered attending a writer’s conference down in Manitou Springs, Colorado.  It’s been years ago but I remember sitting at a table in an Italian restaurant with my book trying not to eavesdrop on the conversation going on behind me.  A mother was out with her two daughters, the oldest on that cusp of teen-hood, the other a couple of years younger.  I was doing a fairly good job at not eavesdropping until the younger girl began to cry.  It was the sort of cry that results from a deep hurt: I could hear pain in her voice.  I’d missed what the older sister had said (my nose *ahem deep in the pages of my book) but I didn’t miss her loud defense of herself in the midst of her sister’s tears.  Of course she hadn’t meant to hurt her little sister, of course her first impulse was to defend herself (maybe hoping she wouldn’t get in trouble?) but the fact remained she had hurt her little sister.  As I listened, I became convinced the ONLY words that would have been appropriate in that situation were “I’m Sorry”.  Heartfelt, honest, no if’s and’s or but’s.

Which got me thinking…

…and I remembered my short-lived marriage.  Yes, I was married.  Yes, I had it annulled.  Yes, it was a mistake.  No, I don’t regret it; the marriage or the annulment.  I learned a great deal through it and what more could I ask? The marriage fell apart fairly fast.  The main reason being my ex hadn’t been honest with me.  Which is an understatement: he had a pathological incapability of being honest.  Perhaps no apology would have been sufficient in this instance but his practically drove me to violence.  Every “I’m Sorry” was followed by a “but” and then a justification that pointed out how he was really right and I was foolish not to see that he’d only lied because he had my best interests at heart.  It was a good thing I packed up and drove off in a moving truck because if he’d said “but” to me one more time, I’d not have been responsible for my actions.

I needed a real apology.  One that saw my hurt, acknowledged it, and genuinely sought to make amends.  I never got it.

That situation has been long over and yet I’ve never lost my sense of how important an apology is.  I’ve tried to remember that in the relationship I have with my family, my co-workers, and my friends.  I have made mistakes and I find my first impulse is to point out how I didn’t intend to make a mistake or be hurtful.  If the other person merely understood…

…and I remember.  I apologize.  I say “I’m Sorry”.  No but’s.