Forgiveness is more than saying sorry.
If you’re not singing the Samantha James Classic from the movie “Just Friends” you’re wrong and I hate you.
Anyway, it’s come to my attention in recent years that I’m actually just a big asshole. That’s not to say I have no redeeming qualities, but the bad bitch struggle is real. And I’m not condemning this life at all, bad bitches, I’m your leader, like Nicki Minaj but pudgy, ginger, and white without the gigantor booty. There are things that shape you into being an asshole. Like years of childhood bullying, months of wild child party life, and finally realizing you just don’t really give half a shit about what 97% of the world population thinks. And let me tell you, it’s empowering. Be Judgey McJudgerson. You go Glen Coco.
I’m 100% down with being an asshole as long as you’re a little bit likable. Be a dick to the right people. I’m sure there’s at least one person you care about, right? Now think about your bad days, your moody days, days where your hair is frizzy and you feel like Shamu… I bet a good portion of those days were spent taking out your anger, your frustration, your sadness, on that one person you like who actually might like you back. Maybe they handle it well most of the time, but this article… This article is for the times they don’t.
Apologies aren’t a one step process. Maybe they should be, but it’s more complicated than that. I think an apology has almost the same stages that loss or grief have. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance.
Allow me to explain.
So you hurt you boyfriend/girlfriend/bestie’s feelings, and now they’re Uma Thurman in Kill Bill pissed. Now what?
Stage 1: Convincing yourself that your actions were completely justified. (Denial)
If you’re anything like me, the first step is a solid defense. Excuses, playing dumb, and blurting out reasons are a few classic moves of this stage of an apology. You’re not saying sorry for a goddamn thing. You didn’t do anything wrong, right?
Stage 2: A fair and even playing field. (Anger)
This stage sucks. This is where you dig up all the old skeletons. The old “well remember that one time you did that one thing that hurt me blah blah blah.” You’ll drag up things that have no place in the argument to further emphasize just how right you were. Smooth move, Casanova.
Stage 3: The non-apology apology. (Bargaining? Okay a bit of a stretch)
You’re still not totally convinced you’re the wrong one in the situation, but you do feel kinda bad that you upset your precious bb. That or you’re a dick who just wants the argument to end. So you spit out the obligatory apology. The “You’re right, I’m sorry.” You probably can’t bring yourself to say much else at this point, because you’re apologizing for making them feel bad, but you’re not ready to apologize for the act itself. This half assed step probably gets you into more shit.
Stage 4: The blubbering mess of “I’m sorry I’m such a piece of shit. I don’t deserve you. I’m worthless and stupid-INSERT MORE SELF HATE HERE.” (Depression)
Here’s where you lose it. You’re crying so hard you can’t breathe and you just desperately crave complete and instantaneous forgiveness. You start hating yourself and whining on about how terrible you are and how much you’ve fucked up and this that and the other thing. It’s probably all bullshit. Tomorrow you’ll think you were a big dumb idiot. But right now you’d say just about anything to get this person to love you unconditionally again. Not to say in that moment you don’t mean it, because oh, you feel every bit.
Stage 5: “Hey, I really am sorry for that thing that I did, and I’m also sorry I handled it like a 13 year old girl on her first period. I love you the most, and hope you will work with me to get past this. (Acceptance)
This is the only stage containing the real apology. The one where both parties acknowledge everything that was done to hurt the other, everything that was intentional, incidental, accidental, whatever. You accept that it happened, accept that you’re both regretting what a big deal it turned out to be, and accept that you’ll work with each other to grow and mend and recover from the crap you just dealt each other.
It might take a while to get through them all, but eventually you will. And you’ll feel like a big dummy. I mean, why can’t I skip right to the end and save myself the trouble? Sometimes you can, and you will. But if you can’t, just refer to the stages and know it’s coming. Know that if you’re a little more in tune with your reactions and emotions, maybe one day you won’t need to mourn in order to apologize. Till then, grieve on.
*Just a quick note, if any of you are actually going through a grieving process, I mean absolutely zero offense. I will not compare trivial arguments to your loss. I know and feel your pain very deeply and I am so sorry you have to go through it.