I am not very good at apologies. Both with my children and my husband I am guilty of the, “I’m sorry, but…” technique of apology. And it – I know – is the worst way to apologize. Sometimes, it’s necessary. “I’m sorry, but I thought your head was a my pillow!” when you accidentally grabbed your husband’s face and clawed his eyes in the middle of the night. (What?) There are those rare times when adding a reason why you did what you did may make someone feel better about your behavior. But for me? Often it’s more phrased like, “I’m sorry you’re angry at me but here’s why my actions were justified.” Which, in reality? Is NOT an apology for those actions. It’s actually quite insulting. I know that, yet I do it anyway.
The most common variety is, “I’m sorry I was a bitch, but you deserved it.”
And you know? Why waste the time? Just so I can say, “What? I apologized?!” Because that is NOT an apology and probably means I’m not really sorry for what I did, I’m just sorry that the other person is angry. I’m really, really bad about this (if my husband read my blog he’d be nodding his head so hard right now he’d be getting whiplash) and I’m very, very aware of it. MrZ does it too sometimes (although not as often as I do) and it bugs the shit out of me. For example, this is a cycle in our house:
MrZ can’t find item X.
MrZ assumes I’ve thrown away item X.
I assure him I didn’t and get mad he thinks I did.
MrZ finds item X.
MrZ says, “I’m sorry I thought you threw X away. But, you throw everything away!”
And I spend the next hour defending that accusation.
9 times out of 10, when I do an, “I’m sorry, but…” apology to either MrZ or LilZ, they end up doing the same thing – turning around and defending the “but…” part of the accusation. If your apology causes someone to say anything other than, “Thank you for your apology…” then you might be doing it wrong. And I do it wrong all the time.
I think that it’s because the “but…” part of my apology is a point I really want made. What I need to understand is there’s a time to bring up that point that is not part of the apology. Thrown in with the apology just makes it like I never said I was sorry. Whereas, if I bring it up during calmer times not associated with that specific apology, then the “I’m Sorry,” is truly sincere and very appreciated. And more often than not? The “but…” part is already in their mind. I know that MrZ accuses me of throwing stuff away because I’m kinda the opposite of a packrat. I really hate keeping things that aren’t immediately useful or necessary. I give shit to goodwill all the time that we end up replacing a few years later. So, I know that when he thinks I threw something away, he has a good reason. He just doesn’t need to remind me of that.
So…I’ve been thinking about how, once I put my mind to it, I was able to make lifestyle changes and fashion changes (I’ve looked nice for work everyday for TWO WEEKS now) in my life then maybe I should work on things that affect other people as well. First up? My method of apology. I’m going to try to practice the art of the Sincere Apology. The one that I truly mean so much that I don’t try to redirect that blame to the other person with a “but…” statement. Sincere apologies go so far. If you’ve ever received one, you know how much of a difference it makes.
What about you? Are you a “But…”-head? Hee. How do you let go of your pride (because my GOD that’s the hardest part) long enough to give a sincere apology? Or to even ADMIT one is needed? (Because, you know, I’m never wrong and am perfect in every way.) Even better, are you the victim of a “But…”-head? If you are often the victim of this type of less-insincere apology, I’d like to hear from you too. Does the apology even mean anything with the “but…” at the end? I’m betting 90% of my apologies are null and void because of that wonderful, “but…” I always throw in.
We now open the floor to our first ever “But…”-heads anonymous meeting: