Apologies

I’ve apologized for many things in my life.

I’ve apologized when I’ve done something wrong.

I’ve apologized when I’ve done nothing wrong.

The problem with the apologies I’ve made to make peace and ease awkwardness is that they will undoubtedly be issued to the same person for the same “offense” again, because the apology wasn’t for my actions, but rather for having hurt someone I love.

Let me clarify.

Say, for instance, I don’t call you for a while.  I get wrapped up in my own life, raising my children, loving my husband, keeping up with my blog.  I don’t choose not to call you, I just can’t find more than five minutes of quiet in a row.  Time passes and I know that you are growing angry with me. So, I know that when I do call you, I’ll need more time, since you are upset and I’ll need to address that.  So, I don’t call, because, well, I don’t have more than five minutes of quiet in a row. And in those rare instances when I do, I use those moments to keep my head from exploding.

So, what do I do with this snowballing situation?  Historically, I have always eventually broken down, shoved everything else aside, and apologized just to make peace. But the older I get, the more I just can’t do that.

I’m curious about your thoughts on apologies…

What is the goal of an apology?  To make ourselves or the other person feel better?

Is there a ritualistic element to apologizing…do we apologize because it is expected of us?

Do you ever apologize when you believe that you shouldn’t?

30 comments

  1. TheSuniverse

    I make sure I apologize when I am at fault. I tend to over apologize, which I am working on not doing anymore.

  2. lttlewys

    I apologize for all those reasons, although less now because I feel I have to and more coz I have hurt someone unintentionally! Great post, thank you!!

  3. Marian runawaysentence.com

    ooh, Nichole, you have described my world. i am the bad girl who never keeps up. who doesn't call, doesn't answer the phone, and doesn't return calls either. i won't apologize, mostly. but it sure sucks.
    what you've written is why i do like facebook. it allows me to be in frequent or constant contact with many people i love but don't get to talk with much. it takes away a large quantity of feeling like i have to apologize for not keeping up.
    unfortunately, not every single person in my life is on facebook. but it must be that it's gotten better because i feel like this a bit less often.
    i am in an annoying battle with my parents right now where their last email to me, demanding that i do something that is not a priority for me, contained the line: "you have time to update your blog every day, so do this." (do i need to point out that i generally post to my blog at midnight?)
    oh, boy. that one sure ain't deserving of an apology. from me, anyway.
    thanks for writing this. and love to you.

  4. Me! Me! This is me!

    Only, I’m also occasionally the resentful person on the other end.

    Except, I never get TOO resentful, because more often than that I’m the first person.

    I sometimes get me as the first person and me as the second person confused.

    This is why I like carrier pigeons. I can blame it all on the damned birds.

  5. Katie sluiternation.com

    Holy crap. I was about to comment and then I went back and read the other comments first. I am the SAME as Marian! I am HORRIBLE at "keeping up with people" unless it's convenient for me. In other words, if you're part of social media or YOU come to ME. MOST people understand that I am incredibly busy and when I am not? I want family time and I want to ENJOY being NOT busy. Most people. Then there are the people like Marian said, "you have time to blog every day…am I not as important as your blog?" Not in the wee hours before I go to bed, you're not. And blogging I can do on my planning hour at school. I can't have a deep, meaningful reconnect with someone then.

    I don't like phones. I like face to face or computer screen to computer screen.

    And I don't apologize for it anymore. I just say, "yup, I am REALLY busy!"

    If I do something to hurt someone and it is MY FAULT?

    Then I apologize.

  6. Alli_n_Son

    I apologize for both reasons, but mainly to feel better myself. Because most of the time, in these situations, the other person has just as much going on, if not more, and they totally get it.

    But I teach my toddler to apologize because it makes the other person feel better and because when you make a mistake or do something on purpose, the right thing to do is simply say I'm sorry.

  7. If someone is sitting around getting angry because you aren’t calling/emailing them. The problem is theirs and not yours. No apology required. I had a big problem with this with an old group of friends. There was always guilt if I didn’t check in enough, I could never understand that. Why couldn’t they call me? That’s why I have new friends.
    True friends understand that life with small children is chaos and support you, even when you are out of touch.

  8. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    It's tough, because we want to teach our kids by example to apologize when they've hurt someone, but there's nothing worse than feeling the need to apologize for everything.

  9. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    I would never intentionally hurt another person, either.
    My actions sometimes do, however.
    And for that, I am always regretful.

  10. polwig polwig.com

    I usually apologize when at fault for not calling back yes, for not calling you when you could have picked up the phone also, no…. You have to trust your gut, if you feel guilty then do it for you, not for others.

    I know we are constantly brought up to think of others but as a mom I now feel like I never ever think of myself always of others and then when you find that second when you do you feel guilty about it and therefore feel like you need to apologize.

    I think the part of becoming an adult for me is to give up on caring what others think and what they demand of me, I am who I am and will most likely not change. I have a lot of great qualities but you do not like my faults then too bad. Yes it is selfish, finally.

  11. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Facebook really is great for keeping in touch. I need to find a way to spend a little more time there.
    I never want to hurt anyone else–that is never my intention.

    And regarding time spent blogging, well, I won't apologize for that. Ever.
    Like you, I write most of my posts at night and then publish them in the morning when I've had a moment to proofread and submit them.

    This blog is my little space and it is truly a refuge for me. I am a better wife and mother because of the opportunity it affords me to stretch my mind a bit. I cannot be just a player in other people's lives. I matter too.

    Thank you for your words. Love you too.

  12. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    I could use some of those carrier pigeons over here.
    An entire flock, if you please.

  13. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    I'm not a huge fan of the phone, either. I don't want my kids to grow up remembering me always talking to someone other than them.

    Before I had kids, I honestly thought that I knew what busy meant. And knowing what I know now? That makes me giggle.

  14. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    We're working on teaching Katie about apologies here, too.
    She's generally really good about it. We just work to make sure that when she apologizes, two things happen: 1) she is specific in her apology and can articulate what she's apologizing for and 2) we always offer her forgiveness in exchange for her apology.

  15. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    I have some friends who understand and some who don't.
    My best friend lives across the country and we don't talk as often as either of us would like. But, we can always pick up right where we left off.
    Knowing that she understands me and will never punish me for letting too much time pass between calls is a beautiful and safe feeling.

  16. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    I like to think that apologies are easy for me to offer when I know that I am in the wrong.
    But the apologies that are extended just to make peace are the ones that I am trying not to offer anymore.
    Thank you for coming by and for sharing your thoughts. :)

  17. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    The challenging part for me, as a mother of two small children, is that my best intentions often fall by the wayside. Days just slip through my fingers.

    I try to keep phone calls to a minimum while they are awake, as that is my time with them…to play, read, and cuddle. And I am loathe to use nap time for anything other than tidying up and recharging my batteries.

    By the time the evening rolls around, my brain is completely exhausted.

    And the weekends? How do those pass so quickly?

  18. Alocoa shakennotblurred.blogspot.com

    Great post!! I find that the older I get, the more I apologize. I just find that life is too short, ya know? I hate the feeling that I hurt someone unintentionally, or someone is upset with me. So I find myself apologizing, more than I should. Now, I am no pushover. There is a difference I believe. But I def find myself apologizing more and more to move on and to just be happy!

  19. Ella

    I am the worst at calling people. I am also one of those who would rather talk in person or online than by phone. Did I mention I regularly run the battery out on my phone without ever making a call.

    So I totally am the one apologizing. But it is mostly for me because if it bothered them that much THEY should have called.

  20. Peggy Sheehan

    I'm not quick with an apology, that is kind of a fault of mine. I don't apologize unless I am truly sorry for something. It would just be too fake for me.

    As for the phone thing…I have a real issue with people who get upset with someone for not calling, when the phone goes both ways. Life is too short to be upset over waiting for a call. For God's sake, just pick up the phone and make the call yourself. That's just being stubborn and hurting yourself by not making the effort to be in contact .

    So I guess if it were me, I might call the person to keep in contact, but I wouldn't apologize for anything when I did, because he/she would be just as guilty of the lack of phone calls. I'm kind of a hardass that way.

    Love you, and hey, why don't you ever call? ;o)

  21. Marian runawaysentence.com

    right on, Nichole, right on.
    i've had a couple friendships go by the wayside, and i can't do a lot about that.
    i figure if i'm always feeling bad or apologizing, that's bad friendship karma anyway.
    you matter! xoxox.

  22. Adrienne nopointsforstyle.com

    OK, me? I am very intentional about apologies. That's because my first marriage require much contrition and I made a decision that I would make every effort in my life to only apologize when I truly felt that I needed to do so – not to make peace, but because I did something that was unkind.

    Being busy? That's not unkind. My retired father-in-law is resentful because I don't have enough time for him. "Enough," in his world, would be a daily (or more) phone conversation, plus regular emails. NO. I don't apologize for not giving him something that I don't have to give, and that he has no right to expect.

    That said, I'm terrible about returning calls and all of that. My closest friends understand that. My best friend of 20+ years? We go weeks (occasionally longer) without talking. Neither of us ever apologizes. It's life. The people in this house come first. That includes me. I need to blog more than I need to talk to my father-in-law (who, in fact, I don't NEED to talk to AT ALL. EVER.). Yes, that pisses him off.

    So, before I go on much longer, I'll say this: it's important to teach our kids to apologize when they've done wrong, and it's also important to teach them not to take on guilt that doesn't belong to them! I think apologizing to keep the peace is fine when it's something small (the person at the grocery store really bumped into me, but I apologize anyway; that sort of thing), but in relationships, where it becomes habitual for one person to take on that role? Not OK.

    I'm just all full of words tonight, huh?

  23. jessica bernthis.com

    sorry has been my middle name for forever. I'm learning to only say it when I really mean it and when it is because I really did something wrong.

  24. susie newdaynewlesson.com

    In situations like the one you have described above, I will say something to the effect of I am sorry you are hurt that I haven't been in touch more. It's not that I don't care it's just that I never have more then a few minutes at a time and I feel overwhelmed at times. This way I acknowledged their hurt and I also expressed my feelings.

  25. Cheryl @ Mommypants mommypants.com

    I have three little kids, so most people understand if I don't call them all the time – or if they don't call me, I get it. I can go months and months w/out talking to my childhood friends, and when we finally do talk? We don't waste time in apology. We just pick up right where we left off.

    I also think that a lot of my friends read my blog so they figure they already know what's going on in my life. Nothing worse than having a convo and every time you want to tell them about something they're all, "Yeah, I read that on your blog." Perhaps I overshare?

  26. The Sweetest thesweetest3.com

    I think many of us "apologize" too frequently. So that it loses meaning. And strength. Not sure how we go into this habit, though, or how to change it. Sort of like saying "good job" every five seconds to your kids. Becomes meaningless.

  27. kris prettyalltrue.com

    After a childhood spent in a constant state of vigilance, in which I was certain that I somehow held the power to control those around me? After a childhood in which every bit of chaos brought apologies that meant nothing? In which my own constant apologies were meaningless, as I was not the one at fault?

    I am less inclined to offer apologies as an adult.

    If the mistake is mine? I will apologize.

    But if there has been no mistake? If the only harm caused is because I have been myself?

    Then I only express sorrow at the other's hurt feelings.

    And I do not apologize.

    Plus also?

    My friends? Know that they have to call me. I do not call people.

    I just don't.

  28. Natalie mommyofamonster.com

    I.hate.the.phone. Everybody that matters to me knows this and you'd think they'd except it. But those people (sisters) who have known me all my life STILL get mad when I don't call. ARGH!

    As I've gotten older, an apology now means more to me. I don't apologize for the sake of apologizing. I do acknowledge hurt feelings and misunderstandings, but no longer with an "I'm sorry" that I'm not really sorry about!

    If I apologize, it's because I'm at fault. And I am much more aware of my faults and when a real apology is deserved than I was when I was 20. Or 30 for that matter!

  29. TamingInsanity

    I can't believe other people have this phone-snowball affliction! The longer I don't call, the longer I know a call will take, so I put it off longer.

    I actually have a friend I'm not friends with anymore because she'd talk for 90 minutes, then say "I'll call you later" and she would call later that day expecting to talk for another 90 minutes. I just can't take that. My brain needs rest. It's own time. Time where it is not on the phone.

  30. brandy

    All the time. It's the secret to a happy marriage. (Or at least one).

    -Brandy

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