Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Where An Apology Falls Short

An apology is so important when one has done or said something wrong or hurtful.  An apology is equally important when one has not done or said something that should have been done or said.  It is an act of accountability, of owning up to a mistake.  It is raising one’s hand and stating, “I am sorry.”

I believe an apology is a step towards making things right.  An apology is a corrective action.  It lets an individual know that there is recognition that something was said or done that was hurtful.  An apology lets an individual know that there is a willingness to fix a hurt and to mend a relationship.

Still . . .

I came across a post by another writer who wanted to point out an apology’s deficiency.  I paraphrase, but it went sort of like this:

Take a plate.  Any old plate would do, but a nice plate, a treasured plate would be better.  Now, pick up the plate and throw it on the floor.  Did it shatter?  Yes, it shattered.  Now, tell the plate you’re sorry.  Did you?  Yes, I told the plate I was sorry.  Did you really, really mean it?  Yes, I’m very sorry I broke the plate.  Did the plate un-shatter?  Did the plate come back as a whole plate?  No.  Didn’t think so.  Sometimes “sorry” doesn’t make the pieces whole again.  Sometimes “sorry” doesn’t undo the damage.

“Sometimes sorry doesn’t make the pieces whole again.  Sometimes sorry doesn’t undo the damage.”

I’ve written a post titled Tattered And Torn.  In it, I wrote about the pain and suffering some of us . . . many of us . . . have that were the result of the words or the actions of others.  Stuff that was done or said to or about us.  The effects last a lifetime.  Many times, we so very well remember the hurt caused by one individual and forget . . . perhaps ignore . . . the complements we received by many individuals.  That one hurt lasts and lasts and . . .

An apology is a necessary first step.  So very necessary.  And yet, it is only a first step.  It is only one step.

The hurt is remembered and will be remembered.  There is a certain amount of damage that hurt caused that might not go away.  There is a certain amount of damage that hurt caused that will not fade away in any time, short or long.  Sometimes the damage is such that it lasts for the rest of one’s life. 

Each of us has those hurts we remember.  We retreat and lick our wounds.  Sometimes we might even lash out in equal or surpassing measure, as if we can become “better” by making someone else feel worse.  Sometimes, each of us has reacted without thinking, out of emotion of the moment.  Hit me with a fist?  I’ll hit you with a rock!

But, an apology is a first and necessary step to rebuilding a relationship, to mending hurt feelings.  Yes, an apology is necessary so that the other party will know that we recognize our misstep, that we recognize the damage we caused- not only to the other party, but to ourselves. 

But while the apology is a first and necessary step towards your and the other's healing, there has been damage.  There has been hurt.  And as we know, as you and I know, sometimes that hurt, that damage doesn’t go away.  Like the plate, it will remain shattered.  Like the plate, the person we hurt can remain damaged.  It might take more than a lifetime to get over.  It might take forever and a day.  So the only solace we take, can take, is that we extended a heartfelt, deeply felt apology admitting our mistake.  Whether or not it is enough, well, we might not ever know.  Whether or not we will be forgiven, we might not ever know.  And, even if we are forgiven of what we did or said, what we didn’t do or didn’t say, it might not ever be forgotten.  A tough and sad reality we might face for a long, long time.  Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

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Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe