I realize I’m a little slow on the uptake. I actually believe what everyone says to me. It is later, as I begin to dissect the conversation that I realize something does not ring true. Or sometimes you have to hit me over the head.
Take for instance, apologies. It took me years to realize that the rare apologies I occasionally received were not apologies at all. And it wasn’t that I figured that out all by myself.
There are times in life, no matter who you are; that people will say or do something that is wrong, hurtful, selfish, or mean.
Please don’t Eleanor Roosevelt me. I am not as tough as she and never will be. I do not give anyone permission to hurt my feelings, but occasionally it occurs. Some choose to attribute my hurt feelings to hormones, chocolate or the weather. I blame it on people being thoughtless and cruel. It happens. And as a result, being human, it affects me. That is what is true for me.
And to be clear, I am not innocent in the hurting of feelings department. I have had to extend my apology to those I wronged. It was difficult. I felt humiliated, but at the end of it all, the relationship was stronger and ironically so was I.
But the hitting me over the head occurred one night in the distant past. After explaining my hurt feelings to the offender I said, “Don’t you think you should say you are sorry?” The offender laughed. I was told quite clearly that I had never received an apology and frankly never would. I begged to differ. I pointed out the few times I received one and quoted the dialogue back to refresh memories.
This was answered again with laughter.
“What I said was, ‘I’m sorry you feel bad about what I said or did. ”
I sat there stunned. Then I laughed. I mean really, how very clever. Carefully chosen words that never did and never would admit fault, sorrow or contrition.
The consequences fell back on me.
I guess it could be worse. I mean to never receive any sort of apology at all might be worse. And I can tell you from personal experience I think it feels worse. It kind of makes me feel discounted and just not worth the effort or maybe the relationship is not worth the effort. Where’s Eleanor when you need her?
For those of you who choose to get defensive or angry or choose to take this all personally…
I am sorry you feel bad about what I wrote.
See, I can be clever too.