I’ve been catching up on episodes of a favorite podcast produced by the Cunning Minx herself, Polyamory Weekly. In one of the recent episodes (Polyweekly 233), she made reference to an interesting article on Toronto’s The Globe and Mail website entitled “A Man’s Guide to Avoiding a Premature Apology” written by Micah Toub. In the article he discusses the all too familiar dynamic that happens in relationships in which one individual apologizes too quickly in an effort to appease the other person. Which can often lead to empty, or as Jennifer Thomas, co-author of The Five Languages of Apology: How to Experience Healing in All Your Relationships, puts it “…a lame apology.”1
Mr. Toub further explains in a rather cheeky manner the anatomy of a good apology as follows.
“‘I’m sorry’ just scratches the surface of what she and Gary Chapman have defined as the five basic ‘languages’ of apology: expressing regret (’I’m sorry’); accepting responsibility (’I was wrong’); making restitution (doing an unrelated loving thing like buying flowers); genuinely repenting (getting around to actually changing your behaviour); and requesting forgiveness (you know, grovelling).”
As I listened to the Cunning Minx read from Mr. Taub’s article in her podcast and share her experiences with various past relationships and how the five “languages” of apology may or not have played out in them, I couldn’t help but remember your various different apologies to me at varying moments. And in that moment, I came to realize why I’m having such a difficult time letting go of the anger I feel in regard to dysfunctional dance we did with each other which will no doubt prove to be a mere nanosecond in the larger continuum of each of our lives. While the tempo of the waltz accelerated and the length of our embrace brief, it’s had a lasting and profound effect upon me. The irony of your claimed desire of a relationship of epic proportions but your lack of effort to acquire the skills to sustain one in such a manner is not lost on me. But again, that last statement is no doubt my bitterness talking.
While at moments you were quick to offer the first in the five languages of apology the words “I’m sorry”, whether they were offered with an authentic understanding of regret I cannot be sure. And while for me, hearing “I’m sorry” is a great first step in making an amends, what is however more import for me to hear/witness when someone offers an apology is languages two through five outlined above. Particularly two, three, and four. Which is to say getting the sense the individual truly understand that his behavior was hurtful, that he acknowledge it was hurtful then change the associated behavior. From what I recall, in each instance of your attempted apologies there was little or no attempt made at accepting responsibility, making restitution, or genuinely repenting.
And of course the other and as equally important part of the equation in an apology is the last language which is that of forgiveness. There is little doubt an entire book could be written about such a subject. On that subject, I am reminded of a definition of forgiveness given to me by someone I met in Al-Anon. She said, “Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. It means I acknowledge you understand what was done/said. I understand the need for me to let go of any resentments or ill will. And that we will both commit to working to resolve the situation and mend the relationship.”
Suddenly it seems to me that forgiveness seems to be the hardest word.
I want so much to forgive you for what happened and there is a part of me that has done so. However there is a part of me that holds onto residual feelings. Maybe regret? While your exit statement of speculating what might have been between the two of us was obviously expressed in an effort to be spiteful. There is a part of me that regrets the truth of your statement. How sad it is that neither of us will never know what might have been. Particularly you given your statement of seeking a long-term relationship of a transcendent nature.
I have little doubt there were times that I appeared to you to be a walking stereotype of the touchy-feely type with the need to over analyze and over process every little thing. Which at times can be true. I am however one of those individuals who doesn’t take friendships/relationships lightly or for granted. I understand the value of close meaningful connections with others as they’re difficult to find and maintain. While you expressed on more than one occasion that you shared such beliefs and values. However, it’s pretty obvious your behavior belies such sentiment and that friendships/relationship of such intimacy are the last thing you desire. And frankly, that you do your best to thwart and or avoid. But hey, that’s just one man’s experience and opinion.
One of key elements of sustaining such friendships is the ability to say, “I’m sorry.” and mean it. To be vulnerable enough to admit to being human and all its various weaknesses. And to be able to hear an apology when needed and authentically accept it. Never easy.
Currently, the individual I feel to whom I owe a the greatest apology with regard to you and me is myself. I need to practice all of the five languages of apology with me and forgive myself for what happened. To realize I did my best to express to you how I felt what I wished for the two of us regardless of the outcome. And also realizing I will never get the kind of apology from you that I require. Which means I have to create such an apology on my own. I’m not sure yet how to accomplish this. However, I have little doubt I will find the necessary tools to do so.
Your birthday is coming up soon. I’ve once again toyed with the idea of making you a card to send. Not sure what to do. Perhaps the Universe will provide me with a clue.
I hope this finds you doing well and keeping cool.
Sending you much love!