Most apologies aren’t.

“Well, I’m sorry,” is not an apology. Neither is ” Well sorry to bother you!”  On the domestic front, most mid-battle apologies aren’t worth the paper on which they are not printed. As in “Pardon me for living” and “Sorry, but you’re a fine one to talk!” These rank very low on the sincerity scale.

I have received very few heartfelt apologies in my life and never from anyone who owed me one. When all else fails, pretending nothing happened works pretty well. Amnesia is the backbone of many relationships. When coupled with denial, it’s powerful stuff. I think our entire country is going through some level of amnesia coupled with a hefty dose of denial.

But I digress.

Especially when whatever happened was stupid, no one can remember what it was about anyway. Sometimes, right in the middle of battle, you can’t remember why you’re fighting. That’s a sure sign you should quickly and efficiently change the subject. Watch some television. Maybe something with demons and secret agents.


I am 70 years old today. No one has apologized for any of the awful things which were done to me. All the people who should have said something are dead, or gone. It’s never happening. I probably would have fainted with shock had anyone said they were sorry and by now, I’d merely find it embarrassing. Thanks for everything and please, go away.

The people who do horrible things worthy of a full, groveling apology will never apologize. They are people who don’t see what they do as wrong. Who feel they have the right to do it because (a) “I have to do what’s right for me,” even if it’s wrong in every other way … or (b) “I’m always right” (and you’re not).

The rest of us? Depending on our ethnic and religious background, we feel varying levels of guilt. In my experience, feeling guilty and being guilty are not the same. Some of us have a high guilt level from birth. It’s part of our cultural package.

Most of us are sinners in a small “s” way. The great big “S” sinners — the really bad guys — won’t be doing any apologizing. Ever. If you’re waiting for your evil former boss, scumbag ex, or abusive parent to — as seen on TV — come to tell you he or she has seen the light? That you are right and he or she was wrong and oh, they are so terribly sorry … can you ever forgive them?

Don’t hold your breath.

Apologies may be transformative experiences. I wouldn’t know. It’s not an experience I’ve had.

Categories: Humor, Relationships

Tags: , , , ,

40 replies

  1. My theory is that people fuck us over because they’re fucked up. Because they’re fucked up, there’s no reason to expect a sudden moment of unfuckedupness, a revelation. How would they live with themselves? How could my mom ever have come to me and said, “I’m a jealous, narcissistic, alcoholic who abused you and manipulated you and lied to you. I’m sorry.” I don’t think that would have transformed either of us.

    And that, I think, living with ourselves is the bottom line for all of us. We all have to live with ourselves. Hopefully we’re not fucked up and can live with ourselves in honorable, honest ways that include sincere apologies when we do something wrong, that hurts someone, that we regret doing. My grandfather always said that if you have to say you’re sorry, it’s already too late. He was right, in a way, but no one is perfect.


    • Well, you had a mother and I had a father. He never even admitted he did anything wrong and any apology would have been rubbish anyhow. He was an abuser and a child molester and like most middle-class abusers, he never paid any dues. They almost never do. Not then, not now. Bad husbands, bad boyfriends — the evil people in our lives are that way because they are. I doubt they think about the goodness or badness of their lives. My father didn’t think there was anything wrong with his behavior. It was always someone else’s problem.

      So yeah, what could he have said? Really? That’s why those movies where suddenly, whoever-it-is finds Truth and Apologizes and all the world is golden and wonderful. What a load of tripe!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, if my mom said to me she was sorry, I am afraid my reaction would have been, would be, “If you KNOW that about yourself, why don’t you STOP?” Some people DO stop and they do try to make it right, but I don’t think that makes the world golden and wonderful. Maybe just allows for some amends and healing, maybe it keeps a kid from following the same path. I have seen it with my cousins on my dad’s side of the family — I think what happens THEN (what I’ve seen of them) is that they are obliged to make a decision about how they’re going to package their own childhood experiences given that their parent (in their case their mom) has come around (and she really did). But we all have to come to our personal peace with what has happened to us.

        I have been helped a lot by other members of my family, but I don’t want to be called on to forgive my mom or my brother. I don’t believe they deserve my forgiveness. I know a lot of new-agey types believe forgiveness offers release and freedom, but I disagree. The only definition of forgiveness I can get my head around is “forgiveness is accepting that you are unable to change the past.” That I’m capable of. Part of me is Dusty T. Dog who was beaten and dumped beside Interstate 8 in Southern California. He knows perfectly what happened to him and, I think, who did it. Even though now he’s mostly well-adjusted, obedient, reliable, friendly and affectionate, there is a part of his brain that remembers and woe to those people if he were ever to see them again.


        • “Forgiveness is accepting that you are unable to change the past” is exactly what I mean. It isn’t the kind of forgiveness we usually mean, more a matter of recognizing that staying angry forever is not productive. Our anger isn’t hurting anyone but ourselves, so whatever it takes to get out of that rut and move on is fine. As long as you don’t become one of those awful people who gets angry and stays angry forever. They become hateful people, exactly the people who enraged them in the first place.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I must join everyone else in wishing you a very Happy Birthday. That would make you a Pisces. Our younger son is Pisces – love him to bits.
    As for sorry I’m just happy when the someone who caused the grief is no longer there to torment me.


  3. Happy birthday! I’m sorry I didn’t bring a cake, but I needed an excuse to apologize for something…


  4. Happy Birthday to you, Marilyn! Yeah…sorry you took it that way or sorry that’s the way you feel. Those people should just keep it to themselves and say nothing. Because ‘nothing’ is exactly what they feel. Anyway–I am NOT sorry that you get to celebrate the entire weekend because your birthday falls on a Saturday. Garry–are you listening? ALL WEEKEND!! 😀 Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Happy Birthday Marilyn. Sorry is one of those words that is often used when the speaker is the opposite of sorry. The same way that some people say “Excuse me” before they are rude to you. On the whole I think I would rather have no apology than a meaningless one.


    • I long, long ago stopped waiting for someone to say “OH, I’m sorry for …” because it won’t happen. Every time I watch one of those “shows” on TV, I sit there and wonder how people can write those scripts It isn’t true. I have never heard of the abusive dad or husband or boyfriend (or girlfriend) ever apologizing. Not ever. They don’t do it. Because they aren’t SORRY. That’s kind of their entire point.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Happy Birthday Marilyn! I still feel MUCH younger than I am, always stunned as the numbers roll by. Sally (Smorgasbord) reblogged a funnies post on aging a day or so ago. One meme showed 2 Senior citizens with text that read something about the mirrors being haunted – every time one of them tried to fix her hair some old woman stands in front of her image. 🙂

    I did a post on apologies a while back, after a particular person kept making things worse by the way in which he was attempting to apologize [Relationship Repair when Apologies are Due]. I don’t think he ever read it, but I certainly felt better after writing it.

    Eventually enough water had flowed beneath the dam that I was able to let it go, and his behavior improved considerably with some serious time out of contact. Other relationships haven’t met a similar fate, but I am always happy when I am able to hang on to friends.

    Have a wonderful day.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • People apologize, but a lot of them are chronic apologizers. They will apologize to a table leg if they bump into it. They are rarely the people who owe you one anyway. The really bad people who twist your life — they are another kind of person entirely. And they are NOT going to say they are sorry. As long as you know this, you can move on with your life.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Boundaries and boundary management – key concepts. Even those who DO apologize often need to be banished, depending on what they did to you. Sad but true.

        Too many folks seem to believe that an apology “fixes” everything. They make me the craziest. But you are right – we simply need to find a way to move on, which usually means away from engagement with most of them.

        Sorry to read that it is on your mind – which indicates to me that you have been recently hurt and are attempting to move on.


        • No, I haven’t been hurt at all. This was written in answer to a question about apology as a transformative experience. What struck me was that it is NOT a transformative experience and I don’t know anyone who really thinks it is. Most apologies are just rubbish anyway.

          That’s was a lot of what my book was really about, that “forgiving” is not the same as deciding that “Hey, now we can hang out.” It’s just another way to recognize that you don’t have to spend your life angry. You can ‘forgive’ and move on with your life. We aren’t the worst thing we’ve done in life OR the best. Because you lose your job after who knows how many years doesn’t mean that all the positive work you did before that is suddenly of no value.

          I try to warn people not to make too many assumptions about me. You may be right, but you can also be hilariously wrong.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Happy Birthday, Your Majesty!

    Half way to 140? Wow! Lucky you 🙂

    Is it the Apology that is the transformative experience? Or the transformative experience is necessary before someone apologises?

    Someone apologising genuinely to us may lead us to transform and be able to forgive the person/thing they did so we can move past it, but it’s probably much more beneficial (and definitely more reliable) if we are the agent of that transformation and first forgive those who should apologise before they do.

    Once we genuinely forgive someone then we really don’t need any apology – if we get one it’s just the cherry on top, we already have our cake. 😉

    I’m sure you have not reached this milestone birthday and not realised this for yourself 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

    • I think my point was that if you are waiting for the apology to transform that experience for you, it’ll be a very long wait. Life isn’t about waiting for someone else to reach out — or not. On TV, they reach out because it’s in the script. In life, they don’t reach out and if that’s what you need before you move on, you won’t EVER move one. Life just isn’t like that. For anyone. And as time goes on, even the idea of having to deal with that kind of icky conversation is too unpleasant to think about.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Happy birthday, Marilyn… I hope the day is kinder to you than the weather is being.

    Liked by 1 person


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