'Sorry' isn't good enough

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Should we forgive? Yes. Should we listen? Of course. Do we have to stay? Absolutely not.

Sometimes, suffice it to say, apologies simply aren’t enough. While it’s commendable that one seemingly acknowledges their mistakes, actions, inactions or whatever role they played in a situation-gone bad, doing so does not always obligate the affected party to continue down the original path started with set individual. More so, the phrase ‘I’m sorry’ doesn’t always excuse the action/inaction of topic.

Let’s explore.

Apologies

Apologies are defined as expressions made which acknowledge regret for whatever action took place. Obviously, those ‘actions’ could be physical or verbal in nature, whereas sometimes, the action may have been a failure to take any action altogether (i.e. inaction). Either way, it’s completely understandable why apologies are viewed as admirable.

By no means are apologies unnecessary, however, we may often be guilty of allowing that two word phrase to keep us in unhealthy/toxic situations.

Now, at one point or another, we should first ask ourselves: was the apology even authentic? Was the apology we received genuine or was it simply conveyed as a means to move past the situation? As difficult as it can be to process, all apologies aren’t sincere. Some apologies are expressed condescendingly, by force, or simply as a way to immediately put an end to a conversation that the guilty party is unwilling to continue discussing.

For those cases where the apology is found to be authentic, while it’s a mature course of action to apologize, one has to remember: whatever words were said or whichever action was carried out, it was likely exactly how the individual felt/thought at the time of execution. So, if harsh words were expressed, it’s what they felt toward you at the moment. If an action was carried out, it’s what they chose to do at that moment. If no action was taken at all, it’s a decision they made at the moment.

In essence, this person felt something inside that was strong enough to carry out an action that hurt or angered you. And in many cases, they may have been fully aware of the damage it would cause while doing so. In more unfortunate circumstances, the individual may have only said or done such things to intentionally affect you in a negative manner.

Now, as it relates to relationships or even friendships, there are three common situations where we should re-evaluate if a simple apology is enough to continue moving forward:

Physical abuse

At times, in our past or present, we may have been involved with a mate whom lost their temper and as a result, put their hands on us in an unwelcome manner. Or, the abuse was enacted as a form of control due to their disagreement of a choice you made. In those same cases, we may have been the party carrying out the abuse. Nonetheless, in most cases, an apology likely followed the bloodshed. While an apology may have been supplied, does it excuse the behavior? Does the swollen eye, aching limb or open wound heal any quicker now that an apology was provided to accompany the vigilante form of discipline? Whether receiving the apology or giving one, in situations such as these, sorry may not (and probably should not) be good enough.

Infidelity

If you’re following the words on this screen, you may have been a victim of infidelity. Or, you may have been the party guilty of such. Either way, this type of betrayal isn’t easily forgiven and is rarely ever forgotten. While an apology is given, does it eradicate the blatant disregard of your feelings? Acknowledgement speaks volumes, however, we can often be distracted so much by the apology that we forget about the fact that our mate willingly sexed another person. Saying ‘sorry’ is wonderful but the feeling in the pit of your stomach after learning of such deceit is quite awful. In regards to moving forward, sorry likely isn’t good enough.

Secrets

Of all situations, keeping secrets is probably the most concerning. Unlike physical abuse, there’s no emotional response to blame. Unlike infidelity, there’s no act of passion to blame either. Instead, keeping secrets involves nothing but logic and strategy. While an apology is often provided, we must remember that this person carefully plotted what to tell you and what to conceal. In essence, what could they be apologizing for when so much effort was given to ensure you would never learn the information they withheld? Their actions were the most intentional in this scenario. Sorry, but sorry just isn’t good enough.

Why apologize?

When really broken it down, why do we apologize? If at the moment, we expressed our true feelings, why apologize for it later? Yes, usually the reason for apologizing is because the aftermath forced us to see how badly our words hurt the other party and as a result, we felt bad. But, if what you felt at the time was genuine and was expressed respectfully, what are you really apologizing for? What’s more is why are we so reluctant to accept the apology? As adults, there are decisions that we must make where feelings may get hurt and hatred may brew. However, it’s a part of life and will only get harder as time progresses.

We simply cannot control how our decisions and feelings will make another human being feel. Often times, we seem to confuse acknowledgement with resentment. In short, yes we should acknowledge our responsibility in a situation but by no means should we apologize if we behaved in a manner that we felt was best at the time.

Forgiveness

Now, in terms of forgiveness, by all means, yes we should always forgive. Forgiving is often misunderstood as being the act of one individual agreeing that the person who wronged them is free of all responsibility, thus, in the clear of all wrongdoing. However, this is absolutely false.

Forgiving is simply accepting that someone did something to you, and that you are not holding any hatred, negativity or grudges toward him or her. In short, you are agreeing to dismiss the action/inaction with no resentment held and moving forward. This detail is highly important because if the forgiver continues to remind the forgiven of their mistake(s), the value of forgiving decreases. In short, we shouldn’t forgive someone if we’re going to continue throwing it in their face at every opportunity.

Nonetheless, it’s always in good practice to forgive. If and when we refuse to, whether we admit it or not, we’re holding on to the anger or pain which could easily develop into hatred, or something much worse.

Conclusion

All of these elements are the building blocks and foundation of why sorry is not always good enough. Yes, an apology (genuine) is an adult act. As is forgiving. However, the aftermath is usually where we often lose sight of things. In some cases, events will occur, arguments will transpire and apologies are exchanged. Thereafter, both individuals move on and all is well. However, there are also cases where even though an apology was given, things simply are never quite the same again. Even though forgiveness took place, it is indeed okay for ‘sorry’ not to be good enough to move on with that person.

Regardless of why the person apologizes, it’s up to the individual on the receiving end to determine whether or not to continue their dealings with the person. Friendships, relationships, etc can all be affected heavily by situations such as these but an apology does not obligate one to stay. While it may be incredibly simple for one to apologize, it’s not always as easy for the other party to revert back to normal as if nothing happened. Harsh words will never be forgotten. Terrible actions will always be remembered. Having taken no action at all will certainly be noticed, retained in our memories forever. So again, yes, apologies are good, but, it is absolutely, positively okay to decide that sometimes, sorry just isn’t good enough.

Al Steven Harrison Jr.

Read more posts by this author.

Mount Prospect, IL

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