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C12P30 No Idea published on 10 Comments on C12P30 No Idea

The events they’re referring to were revisited in Mizha’s Dreaming session in chapter ten.

banner10I have a very complicated set of feelings on the word “sorry.”

There’s the habitual, anxiety driven version of “sorry.”  The word slips out for everything.  “I’m sorry I don’t know what I want to eat right now.  I’m sorry I didn’t correctly guess what you wanted.  I’m sorry I exist.  I’m sorry I’m a burden.  I’m sorry that I’m saying sorry so much.”  Usually this is to address something that the other person (at least, if the person is a healthy, trustworthy person) does not even view as anything bad.  In fact, often it’s for things that they willingly and happily offer to help with.  Yet the anxiety training kicks in.  (I’ve tried to substitute it with “thank you” when I can.  “Thank you for helping me.  Thank you for your patience.  Thank you for listening.”  It’s not easy, but it feels worth doing.)

The other kind of sorry I grew up with was when they were said to me, and they roughly translated to, “You are now obligated to stop being upset so I can hurt you again.”  I used to hate apologies.  I felt that they were always just assurances that the other person would repeat their bad behavior.  I still don’t like hearing “I’m sorry,” because I’ve always felt that instead of wasting time with faux guilt and empty promises, people could just DO BETTER.  If they were really “sorry” then the best thing they could do is improve.

So I used to think that “I’m sorry that you feel that way” was a perfectly valid apology.  After all, from my perspective, apologies didn’t mean anything anyway.  “I’m sorry that you feel that way,” was at least a more honest statement.  It basically means that the person apologizing doesn’t see anything wrong with their behavior, and they’re mostly upset that you’re giving them grief about it.  They’re inconvenienced by your distress, and thus they find it unfortunate that you feel it, and they’d like you to stop feeling it so they can continue what they feel justified in doing.  Since, from my perspective, that was the case with every apology, at least there wasn’t an empty promise thrown in as an additional lie.

As I’ve been in healthier relationships, I’ve come to learn that apologies can be an important process for reconciliation.  A genuine apology identifies the harm done by an action in a specific way, acknowledges that it was hurtful and inappropriate, reaffirms commonly held principles, and not only has a pledge for better behavior, but the follow-through.  It re-establishes safety and common ground.  And it comes with no obligation to be accepted, or for forgiveness to be extended.  A genuine apology is an olive branch, not a contract you’re forced to sign.

It’s an exchange I am still learning to fully understand.

What is the purpose of a genuine apology to you?  What sets a genuine apology apart from an empty one?  How do apologies fit into healthy relationships?

SPIDERFOREST COMIC OF THE WEEK

MoonSlayer
When Syrma discovers that she is the victim of a curse that will end her life, she intends to change her fate. For her there is only one possible solution: defeat the goddess who sentenced her along with all her family. And time is running out. But she won’t be alone. Along with the dragon Menkar, her bodyguard, an also cursed sidhe witch and a banished treacherous god, she will seek the way to survive and change her fate.

10 Comments

Children visit this site. Moderate your language accordingly.

My bio family had a similar dynamic growing up, if adults were ever to acknowledge their words or actions could be wrong in the first place. In my case apologies were a show demanded from lower status people for asserting their own boundary or crossing an arbitrary one. You needed to make an emotional display to signify your submission to the offended adult. Nothing ever needed to be DONE about the behavior or issue that caused the offense. It was enough to establish you were aware of your place. I struggle with this even now.

I can’t say I ever really got too many apologies in my social life. More often than not people were keen to blame me when I got upset about something. Like I did something that caused them to act and hurt me the way they did. Like their actions, no matter how hurtful, were somehow always my fault. I find it common with my generation at least, that people tend to offer excuses rather than apologies and not continue the behavior. (ie: Even though it is 3:30am and we were shouting and slamming doors in the dorm, we just came inside. As if that is an excuse for them to not be quiet, or start being quiet, and let people who have 8am classes sleep.) The rare cases I do tend to get apologies tends to be when the person has nothing to apologies for normally. There are a few times where I do get an appropriate apology, but I am so unused to it that I don’t know what to do with it, or whether to trust it. More often than not, these apologies come after the said person freaks out at me when I bring up an issue, which causes me to break down.
On the other hand, I am expected to apologies a lot and normally right away (no calm down time). Whether I actually did do something wrong, both sides did something wrong (but they want me to apologize first), or for something random (like me getting mad for what they see as no reason). It comes from being seen as a ‘nice’ person, who “shouldn’t” get mad or mess up. It can be very tiring sometimes.
In general I don’t really get it. It might be that I try to come across to a situation that bothers me too calmly, leading people to believe that I am not truly upset. It also doesn’t help that I tend to cry when I strongly feel any emotion, whether sadness, happiness or anger (a good description of it is “water” based emotion, where it tends to overflow). I give up on understanding people though.

Oh I certainly get the “you should be a nice person”. I internalized that as a teenager.

What it led to, over many years, was people walking all over me.

The “you’re not a nice person when you’re angry” is a trap. It is more often a trap for women than men but it can be a trap for us too. In my case, once I blow my fuse, I need to go stomp around outside for half an hour. After that I can come back and try to have a reasonable conversation. But talking to me right after the fuse blows … nope. Who knows what crappy thing I might say.

This was based on childhood “don’t talk back to the adults” conditioning. More than 4 decades later, I’m still working on it.

tl:dr; you should be you.

I tell my students all the time don’t just give me an empty apology. I want you to actually change your behavior. They still give me bologna apologies all the time. I just shake my head and enact some discipline that hopefully convinces them to take the change in behavior seriously.

I have similar feelings about “sorry” and experienced in in a similar way growing up. I only hope that as I continue to grow “sorry” isn’t as painful as it used to be.

Oh, Mizha. I’m sure you’re so used to empty apologies. I really feel for both of them in this scene because Zhiro has legitimate pain and Mizha wants to address that, but she doesn’t know how because nobody talks about their feelings, ever, and it’s always been her job to make everything nice for everyone else.

‘m sorry you feel that way” is the worst possible apology for a lot of reasons, but the one that gets me is it pushes the burden back on the person who was wronged. The apologizer has apologized; now the wronged person is being bad because they still have feelings.

But I think that a sincere apology is something really powerful. It’s admitting weakness and wrong and ideally should show that the other person’s feelings matter to you. Yes, you need to change your actions, but I think acknowledging verbally that what you did was wrong is really important. Otherwise the other person never knows that *you* know what you did was wrong.

Or the modern version, “I’m sorry if anyone was offended”.

(Translation: “I’m sorry that I got caught, that’s all.”)

Weasel-words. They get my blood boiling.

Since we are all nice people here I will not give any current real-world examples that are making Hulk Want To Smash Puny Humans A Lot Right Now.

Ahem. Sorry.

OK, don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. I’ll … just start reading more webcomics tonight 🙂

because of my emotional abuse at the hands of my ex-friend, the anxiety ‘sorry’ is my default state. The best thing I’ve learned to do through interactions with others is to expand that ‘sorry’ – “I am sorry for/because (X), what can I do to make this right?” The last part doesn’t always come, it depends on what the situation is, but that’s the three-part apology. It’s always helpful to me to identify what I am sorry for – both to signify to the person I’m talking to that I am feeling a genuine remorse rather than just apologizing because I think they might be angry, and to identify to myself whether the apology is needed. “I’m sorry because you were being loud and I’m afraid I did something wrong so I think I need to apologize even though Im not sure what it was”, for example, is an anxiety sorry. “I’m sorry that I forgot to do the dishes, I will do them now,” on the other hand, is not.

And the two or three part apology also helps foster better communication between partners. For example, I grew up in a house with a parent who worked nights, so being loud and waking someone eup was to me the ultimate sin. But my husband doesn’t honestly care if I wake him up, whether on purpose or on accident, as long as if it’s on purpose there’s a good reason and if it’s on accident I try to change whatever woke him up in the first place. Also often times my anxiety brain reads a situation as needing an apology when nobody’s actually upset, and so training myself to explain this or to offer my view on a situation has helped me recognize anxiety and improve communication!

Wow! What a Rubik’s Cube of An Open Of Can Worms this issue has sprung into about apologies. This should actually become a college course: FORGIVENESS 101. It indeed is a complex process in which one needs to learn the issues of boundaries and the consequences of those violating or respecting them. As a child in a the 60’s we were taught we had no right to BUCK Authority. So our ideas or thoughts we’re not taken into account to mean anything. So if this condition is not adjusted later in life, then many of us will continue to suffer the disrespect and punishment dished out by our love one’s. So Sad. Cause we’ll feel that we deserve what they do to us. And WE DON’T!

I can’t remember where I came across it (I presume it was linked by one of my parent friends, but of course I’m now vaguely worried it might have come from you somehow :P), but this article about teaching kids how to apologize properly has stuck with me:
http://www.cuppacocoa.com/a-better-way-to-say-sorry/
I was thinking I should try that with my kids … not just for them to say, but for myself as well. It’s embarrassing to admit, but when I’m in harassed parent mode, I can be just as insincere in my apologies as my three-year-old :/

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