Over the past eight months or so, I’ve written several articles on apologizing and forgiveness. Some out of anger and some out of regret. We all logically know that when you apologize to someone it is supposed to relieve your guilt. It should be an admittance that you did something wrong, and you are a big enough person to admit that. Logically, it isn’t supposed to matter if the other person accepts or not.
I pose the question: “Does it really not matter to you if they accept?”
Speaking, strictly from my personal experience, if I offer the apology I truly believe that a (I was in the wrong or b (I care enough about your feelings, that you are more important to me than who was in the right. I don’t believe I’ve ever given an apology without at least the hope the other person genuinely accepted. I, personally, am not interested in someone apologizing to me to relieve their mind. I once wrote:
“I was still unworthy of even a passive “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings.” You know the apology you give just to keep the peace. The apology you give just to be… human. (See apology to my sistas)
I wrote that after having a horrible experience, I finally realized I meant nothing to someone who meant a lot to me. I thought that if I had received even that acknowledgement that my feelings mattered to him, that some of the pain I felt over the past few months would be relieved. Then on a sleepless night, I came across the Michael Richards’ (Kramer from Seinfeld) racial rant. I’d never actually seen it, but of course heard about it, and his many subsequent apologies. I’d also seen several other celebrities: Tracy Morgan, David Spade, Alec Baldwin, Mel Gibson…the list goes on and on, offer apologies for comments they had made either jokingly or otherwise because they had offended some group of people in some way.
Enough is enough. He meant what he said, as I’m sure most of them did…why apologize? The fake apology is just as insulting to me. You don’t randomly make comments like that from nowhere. You feel that way, and that is absolutely your right. I may disagree with it, and that is MY right, by offering some half baked apology and expecting me to think you have miraculously changed your view does me no good. It does you no good. That caused me to think, if I feel that way about phony celebrity apologies, why should I feel any different about an apology from someone I have/had contact with? No one likes to feel their feelings don’t matter, but is an apology that isn’t truly from the heart better than no apology at all?
I’m guessing that for most people it isn’t. For me, an apology just acknowledging that I do care about your feelings has always been an easy thing to give, and until recent acquaintances, I had no idea everyone didn’t feel that way. I’d only been in give/get move on type situations. This begs the question:
Can you truly forgive AND forget?
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you have to keep them in your life. However, if you do make the decision to forgive them, and keep them, you have to be able to forget. If you can’t do that, then you will not be able to move forward. There is no point in that. I’m sure most of us have been in a situation, or at least know someone that has, been in a relationship with someone who claims to have forgiven them, yet repeatedly brought up whatever injustice they feel they suffered. That isn’t fair to you, or the person that thought they were being forgiven.
I understand the value of protecting your heart. I truly do. I understand the importance of learning a lesson from each experience. Most importantly, I understand that to do something once is a mistake…to do it twice is a choice. So, being gun-shy of someone who has hurt your heart once is perfectly logical. It is sane. However, keeping them around as “punishment” is a waste of your time. I’ve known men and women that have cheated on their mates, and been “forgiven”, yet had the offense thrown up in every argument. I’ve seen them be followed. Have their phones checked. It’s a horrible existence and oddly enough I’ve seen them leave more often than the person that supposedly forgave them.
I never really understood until I was recently “forgiven”, but it was obvious that I really wasn’t. Then I realized an apology, and false forgiveness, can actually cause more pain. Chose wisely, carefully, and slowly! A lot of issues can be resolved with an old fashioned face to face conversation. A lot of issues can be resolved if you take time to recognize who your friends really are, and who has truly invested time into getting to know you. I feel that needs to be repeated: Who has TRULY INVESTED TIME IN GETTING TO KNOW YOU. Any adult knows, everyone isn’t your friend, and everyone that smiles in your face, won’t stick around for the hard times with you. It is important to recognize who will. You don’t want or need someone who will cut and run at the first sign of trouble. So make the choice, Forgive and forget and move FORWARD, OR forgive and remember and move ON. That is a choice you have to make…and live with.