They say women apologize too much. Not this one!
I was six months pregnant when I was the matron of honor at my sister’s wedding. Maybe it was the hormones. Maybe people assumed I was kidding. But I took my role of toast mistress seriously. I put it all out there.
There were no giggles or recital of every inside joke that the other 209 people in the room wouldn’t understand. I took my soapbox moment to say the three things that I have the hardest time saying those close to me including my best friend (also my greatest rival).
The speech ended with “I love you”. It included “Thank you”. And it started with “I’m sorry”. Quite possibly the most difficult thing for me to admit, which is probably why- from Chicago back in the day to the Biebs, One Republic, and Demi Lovato today -there are so many songs written about those 2 words.
Call me cold, unfeeling, insensitive. I’m simply not effusive with my feelings. That’s not to say I don’t have any. Perhaps I see gushing as a weakness, and in my quest for being perceived to be a strong woman, I’m not willing to concede moments of regret or warmth or gratefulness to others. It works well in a male dominated business environment, but I’m not sure it’s a winning policy in personal relationships or over the course of a lifetime.
I’m working on it, particularly on the homefront. It’s amazing how forgiving kids can be when you sincerely apologize for a parenting fail. Just because they’ve been around less than a decade doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the respect of begging pardon when they are wronged. It’s truly cathartic to feel the unencumbered embrace of clemency in those little arms wrapped around you, and in the process it seems they are learning that there is nothing wrong with feeling and admitting remorse. Through my own important, albeit difficult, expressions of regret, my kids are gaining the skill of emotional intelligence.
I’m getting the hang of it, even in some of the more difficult situations. At work, I may pitch a stock idea that- omg- doesn’t work. I find I earn much more internal and external goodwill when I own up to being dead wrong, than placing the blame on factors out of my control. I am not that devout in my religious practices, but we’re advised to seek repentance (and to in turn forgive those who ask for it) as we enter each New Year, and letting it go to start with a clean slate amongst friends and family has been truly self-actualizing in recent years.
I’m benefiting from it. My mind feels clearer. My heart feels more open. My relationships feel deeper. Perhaps saying “I’m sorry” isn’t a sign of weakness at all, but rather a character strength that I’m finally flexing as an adult after so many years of taking the easy, obstinate, close-minded path.
There are some pains we can never relinquish. There are some relationships that will always be fractured in some way. There are times when it’s “too late to apologize”.
There will always be weak moments when the Hulk inside of us says something awful, inflicts pain, or acts cruelly toward someone we love. Sometimes it may even be justified. Some of those transgressions cannot be erased. Some you simply don’t regret.
And in those cases, there has never been a better term than “Sorry, not sorry”.