As Canadians we are always apologizing for something, but is it really for the best? Perhaps there is a time when you shouldn’t apologize for something no matter how bad you feel about it!
This is the story of one of the most awkward and insulting conversations of my entire life and it started with someone giving me an apology. The other day I got a text from a friend who I hadn’t really spoken to in a couple of months, now, this wasn’t a very close friend or a very long term friend so I had really never given it too much thought or notice that we hadn’t talked in a while, frankly I just figured we didn’t have much to talk about. When I received the text asking me to go to lunch with her I was indifferent as to whether to even bother because I was short on money and didn’t really have any burning desire to spend time with her, but I said I’d meet her for coffee instead.
When the day came, I met her at the appointed time and after a few short moments of smalltalk she started with “So, I asked you to meet me today because I owe you a big apology”… At this point my brain starts trying to figure out what she could possibly be talking about… I mean… I can’t remember anything that she said or did that I thought she may even remotely owe me an apology for… so I think… okay… well this could be interesting lets see what she has to say…
She proceeded to tell me that the reason she hadn’t contacted me in the past two months was because she feared that I had a specific agenda towards her… namely… that I was an agent of the devil sent to confuse, distract and manipulate her into doing things for me and eventually lead her astray. WAIT WHAT?! I mean I know I’m not perfect but I’d like to think that people don’t regularly confuse me for Satan’s little helper?!
But it gets better… she said after she spent time “wrestling” with it “almost every day” she decided that I was “probably not” trying to manipulate her because if I really was on a mission from the Dark Lord himself then perhaps I would have been more successful or at least more persistent in my attempts… So, it took her two months to come to the conclusion that even if I was actually a minion of evil that I was probably pretty safe because I was clearly incompetent and lazy?
So anyway, she concluded with some crap about how God calls her to “just love” people and that she really hoped I would forgive her for thinking those horrible things about me … oh and BTW she’s getting married next month and she “really hoped” I could make it to her wedding…
Here’s the thing about people who suffer from mental illnesses or just low self esteem in general, we all think that everyone out there thinks horrible things about us, but the only way we can scrape our way through life is to try and convince ourselves that people are actually quite self centered and don’t spend much time or energy thinking things about us because they just don’t care. But this girl, in an attempt to make herself feel better, felt the need to shatter my bubble of safety by telling me not only that she DOES think horrible things about me, but that she spent A LOT of time doing it, and even AFTER all that time she isn’t sure if she was actually wrong.
Now, while I did say that I forgave her (yes that was me occupying the moral high ground right there) I have to question how anyone could possibly think that giving this kind of “apology” to someone who was previously unaware of your thoughts about them could be anything but damaging?! How in God’s name is it “loving” someone to tell them this?
The problem is that we think apologies fix things… but they don’t… apologies are nothing but words. If you want to make something better what you need to do is make amends (right the wrong if you can and then change how you act in the future so it doesn’t happen again). This is why in the very successful 12 step programs they have a step that says “make direct amends to such people (the people you hurt) wherever possible EXCEPT when to do so would injure them or others”. Here’s the thing, apologies make the person who did the thing feel better about themselves, amends on the other hand fix things and prevent further injury. If you’ve thought something about a person that a person doesn’t know about, and that it would harm them unnecessarily to find out about the way to make amends is to change how you act towards that person in the future. Be a better friend, don’t shatter their self esteem by saying “yeah I thought you were evil, but I feel bad about that now”.
What confuses me most though is why someone would invite Lucifer’s Handmaiden to their wedding….
~ Elena <3