Sorry, not sorry
Apology doesn’t mean that you were wrong, or the other person was right. It means that your relationship is more valuable than your ego.
I disagree. And I’m not sorry about it.
I, for as long as I can remember, have been an over-apologizer.
I think the ability to admit when you are wrong and be accountable for it is very important. That’s not what I am talking about here.
In disputes with friends, family, or especially my partner, even if I was the wronged party I have historically been the one to apologize just to end the conflict. I really do not like anger. I hate being around it, and have always done just about anything I could to end it.
But it wasn’t confined to arguments or conflict. It was every day stuff.
If I lost my train of thought, if I needed to get past someone, if I needed to say no to a request- “I’m sorry.”
I’ll let you in on a secret- lots of times, I WAS NOT SORRY.
I think we have gotten so used to saying it- especially women- that we forget that the word has meaning. It is SO a gender thing, I think. I do not see men doing it- not nearly as much. Women do it ALL THE TIME. Because we are taught to be “nice,” and nice is about not making anyone uncomfortable, and ceding ground, and yielding, and pretense. Nice is not disturbing the peace.
And even though I would be the one to apologize, even though I would make the decision to accept blame in order to make the anger stop, I would resent it like hell. On the outside I was all contrition and appeasement, but on the inside I was seething and judging the other person. So it isn’t even as though I was escaping the anger, now that I think about it. I was just voluntarily internalizing it. I was making things nice again. On the outside.
I have very little use for nice. Nice is to kind as pretty is to beautiful. Nice and pretty are barely skin deep, kind and beautiful go down to the bone.
Reflexive apologizing is a HARD dynamic to change in a relationship, by the way. If you are the one who has historically yielded, it does not go over well when you decide stop. You have to be willing to see conflict through to the end. You have to be willing for things to be awkward and uncomfortable. Even angry.
Healthy relationships can withstand that, though. In a healthy, loving relationship each person owns their “stuff.” Both people are accountable for their behavior, and to one another.
Next time you are on the subway, look at the way women sit, vs the way men sit. And no, not ALL women, and not ALL men. But 10 to 1 you’ll see several men sprawled out over several seats, and in the same car you’ll see women with their legs crossed, bag tucked- everything they can to not infringe on anyone else’s space. Their very posture is an apology.
It might seem insignificant, but moving through the world apologizing for taking up too much space is NOT LITTLE. When you do that, you are conceding that you don’t have the right to stand up for yourself, or allot your time the way you want, or occupy the space you require.
Saying you are sorry should MEAN something- it shouldn’t be rote. It shouldn’t stand in for “I can’t” or “Excuse me” or “I didn’t hear you.” I’m sorry should express regret- REAL regret.
I mean, if you truly are sorry that you cannot work another PTA thing- then by all means, express that sorrow. Otherwise, though? How about- “That’s just not going to work for me this time. Hope you find someone!”
That works, right?