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