I’ve been thinking, of late, about apologies.
Saying “I’m sorry” is an act of humility, and of strength. But it can also just be a tool used, insincerely, to alleviate conflict and evade direct responsibility for one’s actions.
Interestingly, this week I had someone pull out an apology I had made to them months ago and try to use it as a bludgeon against me. She pointed to the fact that I had apologized to her, for whatever part I had in the collapse of our friendship, as proof that I was not only fully at fault but downright malicious. That’s right: by apologizing, I had apparently admitted to complete culpability and that culpability proves that I’m a vicious bastard.
Had I not apologized for anything, like her, I’d presumably have the high ground. I’d be free of all guilt. I’d be the victim.
For the record, if I sat down with you and tried to tell you what the hell happened, what I did that was worth throwing a friendship away for, I couldn’t do it. I’m as perplexed now as I was then. And ultimately it doesn’t matter, because clearly a friendship so cagey and fragile is no friendship at all, and its demise is to be celebrated, not mourned.
She was the one who turned hostile. She was the one who literally refused to discuss whatever was happening. She was the one who responded to my apology by blocking me on Facebook. She was the one who then wrote a lengthy blog post that wasn’t about me, but in which she defined herself by listing things she doesn’t like, which happened to be things I like (pulp fiction, comics, Bruce Springsteen) which she had apparently been pretending interest in to get close to me for months.
So, if I say I’m not sure what I did to enrage her so much, and that she acted with such unreasoning hostility, why did I apologize in the first place? Continue reading