I have had to do a lot of apologizing in my 36 years. A LOT. I am as imperfect a person as you can find and I'll be the first to tell ya'! I had a boss that used to tell me not to apologize, as it was a "sign of weakness", but I couldn't disagree more. Apologies, when they are sincere, only show how cognizant one is of one's culpability in a situation where blame must be placed. Some are wrongly blamed, but if we are honest with ourselves, we know we can diffuse many situations with a bit of humble pie, misplaced or not.
One of my top 5 pet peeves is an apology that begins with or includes an "IF"...that is the worst kind of NOT apologizing. Not only does it reek of indignation, but it places blame back on the accuser, causing seeds of self-doubt and bitterness to be planted and/or watered. I challenge any reader to begin an apology with an "IF", step back, and assess the honest-to-goodness sincerity in it. It can't be found. "How would YOU know?", you ask...well, let me tell you...
I had heard many times over my lifetime to date apologies that began with or included an "If". Dating back as early as childhood, as a result of a friendly spat, and usually at the behest of some greater power, (with the added threat of bodily harm in the form of spanking), I came to be quite familiar with receiving and/or giving apologies. (You guess which number was higher...*wink*) It began to really chafe my hide when I was teenager and the boys would tease me for being fat, then "apologize" after I had been reduced to tears. (i.e....IF I hurt your feelings, I'm sorry.)
As years went by and life happened, I heard it too often from people I yearned to be real. I had tried to be open with these people when I felt wronged, knowing the familiar root of bitterness that tends to rule my psyche. Some of those, I felt strongly enough to point out why I felt I couldn't accept the apology, seeing as it wasn't true, some I didn't.
There was one point in time where I felt especially desirous of a sincere apology, knowing that I had never once heard it from the offender in question. In a carefully worded correspondence, I outlined my reasons for what I was feeling, and why I felt an apology was in order, especially considering the circumstances, etc. The response I received, not days or weeks later, but several months later, was as I had anticipated, but disappointing nonetheless. While I had waited to hear - hoping to hear - my despondence led to anger and anger to bitterness and bitterness to...well...a place so depressing and low, I cannot aptly describe with mere words.
What is it about human nature that makes us want to withhold peace from each other? Stubbornness? Pride? Self-righteousness? I think the list is long, but it doesn't have to be, nor should it be so. A simple "I'm sorry" could go so far in another person's life and what has it cost you? If it means I can maintain a relationship and keep it in good standing, then it doesn't matter what events lead to it, whether or not I'm to blame, or how much time transpires - I'd rather be afforded the opportunity to apologize than know I'm an accomplice to pain. If you're sincere and it's not received, there is nothing further for you to do. You shouldn't have to continue to pay a price for a misdeed after a sincere apology. If you're insincere, don't be alarmed at the result.
***This blog was inspired by a sincere apology from an unexpected source and I am so grateful. She knows who she is and if she doesn't, you can count on me writing her a heartfelt note of gratitude.***