"I'm sorry, Luke, I made a mistake."
"Lea? Did . . . you . . . just . . . apologize?"
I blinked. "Uh, yeeeeeaaaaah? Wow, so I did."
My family upbringing doesn't have an overt approach to apologies. We usually won't say, out loud, the word "sorry." It's more subtle. The sheepish grin. The begging eyes. The sudden, unwarranted charming disposition. And that works for us. We know the agony that is asking for forgiveness, and we would prefer to allow the other to save face, knowing he/she will try to avoid that boo-boo in the future.
Laura Zigman's "I Can't Apologize (Sorry!)" explains the phenomenon of "a nonapologist's apology."
“Here’s how I apologize,” Amy Dickinson, who writes the “Ask Amy” syndicated column, told me. “After a conflict, I just let things simmer down. Then I give a nudge. A little poke. Basically I telegraph to the other person that I’m fine now. I’m no longer in that bad place. It’s time to move on. If, after my charm offensive, the other person still has a problem with me, I’ll say, ‘I’m sorry you’re upset.’ ”
Sure, childhood shame can be blamed as the root of the inability to apologize, but really, how long can adults cling to that excuse? The other option is being a narcissist.
Guy Winch, a psychologist and author of “Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts,” explained lack of remorse to me this way: “Apologies involve an admission of wrongdoing, and people with fragile self-esteem — like narcissists whose self-esteem is high but also brittle — can be highly resistant to apologizing as they feel it is threatening to their egos.” (I’m sorry, am I the narcissist in this equation?)
Apologizing isn’t fun. But neither was kale, until some brilliant publicist/food gentrifier got a hold of it.
All about the spin, eh?
I always liked to think my aversion to apologies was because I'm very hard on myself in general, and adding fuel to the flames would push me over the edge. I'm still hard on myself, but maybe I'm getting a little better at acknowledging that I'm human, albeit in progress. I haven't reached the pinnacle yet.
So, I apologized! Once, out loud and everything.