I’m currently snuggled up on the couch watching The Bachelor. It is not a ‘guilty pleasure’ as I feel zero guilt in watching this show. I’m watching a stunning, educated, young woman, Taylor, on the ‘hot seat’. The host has just replayed scene after scene in which she was haughty and arrogant to all the other women in the house. Not the worst crime by far in ‘Bachelor Nation’ (of which I am a citizen), but her critical eye was particularly focused on another young woman, Corrine, who was indeed pretty showy, promiscuous and aggressive. They were fairly equal in the barbs they had traded over the season and they were both very affluent, confident and cruel. But it was interesting to see this ravishing creature turn ugly as she scathingly judged Corrine.
Taylor did break down on the post-season interview and say that, as a mental health counselor, the ongoing altercation between the two had cost her not only a lot of heartache, but was also affected her budding career and reputation. I could see why. As prestigious as a Johns Hopkins degree is, it cannot whitewash vindictive, judgmental behavior.
And then she said, “In light of all of this I just want to say…”
And I thought, “Yes! She’s going to apologize! She’s going to offer up a deep and heartfelt apology! And by apologizing she will dispel all the tense hateful energy surrounding her, and she will grow, and the world will reward her humility with forgiveness and respect.”
And she said, “In light of all of this, I just want to say that, I mean I just wish that she would apologize to me! Corrine should apologize to me for all the terrible things she said. It’s affecting my career, and my life, and I just can’t believe Corrine hasn’t apologized to me yet!”
Sigh, so close and yet so victim.
Not that long ago, my best friend and I got into a fight. (Sidebar: I have a few ‘best friends’, it is a tier. The people I’m fortunate enough to call my ‘best friends’ don’t get upset that I’m too lazy to describe every nuance and minute detail of each friendship so as to avoid hurting the feelings of my other ‘best friends’.) So my best friend and I get into a whopper. The details aren’t as important as the fact that we broke up never to look back.
Two years later she had the balls to call and say, “I’m sorry. I miss you.” But honestly by the time she got to “I’m sorry…” I had already said, “Omg I’m so sorry too! Please forgive me! I’m so very sorry! I love you!” And now here we are, stronger, better, more gentle and respectful in our interactions. I don’t ever need to be ‘right’ again if it means losing her. I also think we trust each other even more because we both know that we are the kind of people who have the character to say ‘sorry’…and mean it.
Another best friend and I had gotten into an argument over our Cheeto-flavored president the other day. Based on the pain and experience of wasting two years being in a fight with my other friend, I did not let years go by before apologizing, just a few days. The phone weighed 800 pounds, but I picked it up anyway to make the call. She was gracious and lovely in accepting my apology and we are back on track. (BTW I did promise I would not use phrases like ‘Cheeto-flavored President’ but she knows that at my core I’m very immature, petty and don’t have a lot of self-control. Leopard…spots…she knows what time it is.)
When it comes to apologizing I have learned a few key things:
1. Though it often feels like it costs a fortune, apologizing costs me nothing.
2. Apologizing does however pay me untold riches in return for the apology, namely I’m compensated in happy friendships, restored family relationships, and better relationships with co-workers.
3. Apologizing is my ‘insurance policy’. No matter how difficult it is for me to apologize, it is my insurance policy that I won’t die right, but also alone.
I am fascinated by people who are unable to apologize. People who cannot apologize are generally extremely rigid and critical, people who actually remind me of me, a long time ago.
The one thing people who can’t apologize have in common is they must drag around a massive war chest of terrible stories; anecdotes and examples of why ‘so-and-so’ is no longer in their life, and why they hate another person, and why they would prefer you NOT invite this other person to your party.
Why?” you ask. “Why can’t I invite (fill in the blank) to the party?”
They sigh, haul out their enormous, splintery wooden and metal chest filled with past hurts, bitter regrets, unresolved arguments and self-righteous indignation and say “Well, you see about 6 years ago, they did this and then I did this, and then they did that, and as you can see from this long, boring, super judgie, self-pitying, painful story they cannot possibly be at the party to which you have so kindly invited my victim ass.”
“Oh.” You say politely, wondering why you actually did invite their sorry victim ass to nibble on your appetizers and drink your champagne.
There is one apology that is guaranteed to let people know you are definitely not sorry and that you are most definitely a dick. It is the lamest and wimpiest apology of all time and that is “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry I hurt your feelings.”
Huh? That intuits that it was the feeling owner, whose feeling feelers are somehow screwed up. In some cultures the word ‘apology’ translates to the word ‘return’. To return a relationship back to what it was. So that lame apology does nothing to return a relationship back to a better time. It subtly lays the blame at the feet of the person you are supposedly apologizing to. It’s right up their with “I’m super sorry but…” If this is your idea of an apology, please, spare us all the charade and just say you don’t give a shit about the relationship.
The best apology is like holding a spotlight on what one did wrong, naming it in front of the person so they know you get it, and asking for forgiveness and the opportunity to make it better, no ifs ands or buts.
Getting back to the sobbing ravishingness of The Bachelor’s Taylor, the mental health professional who believes that being the recipient of an apology will place her back on a pedestal within Bachelor Nation…
There sat Taylor, perfectly coiffed and dressed with her $250,000 degree, so confused. You could see her face working out the dilemma, “How can people not see how cheesy and slutty Corrine is? How can they not see how spectacular and classy I am?” She sat there literally with her face screwed up in confusion thinking that if she could just have received that apology it would help people believe her to be the better woman.
Little did she know that if she would have merely apologized for the hurtful things she had said, it would have released her from her burdens and maybe even earned her the admiration she so craved.
Alas at the end of the show, Taylor looked just as burdened when she left the studio as when she arrived. There she was, dragging her massive battered wooden chest of justifications and unuttered apologies behind her slender, Christian Louboutin-clad feet. She was completely unaware that two words would have healed her.
Is it too late now to say sorry?
But I will say…hurry. Hurry with your apologies. It is later than you think.