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What is a real apology? — 18 Comments

  1. I am going to add one more step to all of this. Actions speak louder than words.

    It’s not just that they
    1)Acknowledge what they did was wrong and that
    2) you have hurt feelings because of it. Not just that they
    3) Ask what to DO to fix it, but that they actually
    4)FOLLOW THRU and DO whatever it takes to FIX what they have done.

    They can promise me the mon and stars as to fixing themselves, changing, never doing this again or dill in the blank _____________, but if they never follow thru and DO anything about fixing it, mending the fences? I’m done.

    • Spell check!

      They can promise me the moon and stars as to fixing themselves, changing, never doing this again or fill in the blank_____________,

    • Joyce, this is a very important concept to grasp: just because someone “says it” does not mean that they “mean it.” Even if the person that “says it” starts behaving as if they care, it’s the LONG TERM behaviors that add up to a pattern of either contrition or abuse.

      In my opinion, such as it is, a person who is truly sorry for their actions makes every effort to amend their wrongdoings – from civil to criminal consequences, they are prepared and willing to atone for what they’ve done. In addition to standing accountable for their actions, they take tremendous and courageous steps to make changes in their own lives to avoid harming people, again. There is a genuine effort to change, remain changed, and to continue changing FROM someone who harms others INTO someone who will not deliberately harm others.

      Some people are so adept at playing the “apology game” that it’s almost a seamless and ongoing transition from the appearance of contrition BACK to abuser. One minute, they are showering us with attention and the words that we have made it very clear that we “NEED” to hear to make it all okay, and the next minute we’re experiencing disappointment and hurt feelings, AGAIN, because the person said the words, but they really didn’t “do something” to alter their behaviors and stand accountable.

      It’s like the second exspath’s “apology.” Oh, he was “sorry,” alright, but he was only “sorry” that his vile game had come to an abrupt end and that he had been exposed for what he is. He is not, in any capacity, TRULY “sorry” for what he’s done and continues to do to others: lie, steal, and damage.

      As for making promises, I avoid this whenever possible. I cannot “promise” that I will “never” harm another human being – it’s impossible to accomplish that because, somewhere and somehow, someone will experience disappointment because I either failed to uphold a promise that I’ve made, or I failed to meet their standards (or, even my own).

      Politicians make “promises” that they cannot keep, even when they know that their promises are utterly false. Anyone that uses the words, “promise” and “never” in conversation is cause for pause where I am concerned. I don’t give two sh*ts about WORDS…….words are cheap and can be spoken at a whim to manage any situation. It is ACTION that speaks at a greater decibel, as far as I’m concerned.

  2. Back 5 years ago or so in the middle of the “summer of chaos” in which I tried to convince my mother that her live in caregiver was a pedophile and of course she would not listen, called me a liar etc. Then lied to me herself.

    I got angry and said something nasty to her and stormed out the back door. I got to the porch and said to myself, “Joyce that was just pure nasty” so I went back into the house and I got up close to her and I made an apology as sincerely as I possibly could. But, she didn’t accept my apology because “it didn’t sound sincere.” Of course her version of her apologies is “I’m sorry i f anything I did hurt you.” Never specifically address WHAT she did, or that she acknowledged that it HURT me, because she always had an excuse for what she did.

    One lie she told me about buying the truck for Hamilton was that she did not buy it. Later when I found out it was a lie, her excuse was that SHE HAD TO LIE because if she had told me the truth I “would have thrown a fit.” Which BTW I would not have done, it was her money and she had every right to spend it, give it away or do whatever she wanted to with it. But no way was she going to acknowledge that her lie wasn’t MY FAULT. LOL

    I can look back and laugh about it now, but at the time I was suffering severe PTSD from my husbands plane wreck and death, and the fear that Hamilton would kill her and me. I broke down and cried and cried and finally gave up, left her here in his clutches and went into hiding. It was only about 4 -5 months before he tried to kill Andrew. LOL
    And all that time he was drugging my mother so she would sleep most of the time and be foggy, and having an affair with Andrew’s cyber-bride that he picked off the internet.

    I no longer restore trust to someone just because they “make words” but I watch what they do, how they act, and if they assume RESPONSIBILITY for what they did, and acknowledge it was wrong. Trust is EARNED at my house. It isn’t a gift.

  3. Truthy- When you say your second exspath apologized because he was sorry he was found out and the gig was up, relax in knowing there is a brite side to a lot of this. I simply agree with the spath when they do apologize.

    Spath- “I’m sorry…”

    Me- “Yes, yes you are. You are a pretty sorry sack of shite in my opinion and I don’t see that changing any time soon…”

    Sometimes we have to stand back and laugh about it, otherwise we are stuck in the muck and the mire and have to wade thru it with them. We know their apology carries no weight, it is nothing but another lie and a way for them to suck us in, pull us down and crap on our head yet again. So be it. I just don’t buy into it anymore.

    • Phoenix,
      My exspath would apologize with flowers and cards. He seemed ever so contrite. When the argument was over money, he would pay me. He was always doing things to make it up to me so that I’d forgive him.

      It was all part of a game. They enjoy winning us back as much as they enjoy making us run.

      That part of the game ended when I bought the house. Some spaths change when they get married, but mine changed when I bought the house because that’s how he knew I was trapped. I remember having a fight and expecting the usual apology. It never came. After that, he NEVER apologized again. Not once. That’s when everything changed and I toppled off the pedestal. It was the beginning of the devalue process. It lasted about 17 years.

      My mother told me, many many times, “I never accept apologies because I know they are meaningless.” She had been through it and had seen through it years before.

      The problem is, I’m not like my mother.

      • “I remember having a fight and expecting the usual apology. It never came.”

        Sky- I can remember a fight with a previous ex and thinking right smack in the middle of it, after gaining the upper hand of sorts,- So This is how you WIN with him. Looking back now, I honestly can’t remember enough of the little things, the details, to say one way or the other if he was a spath too or not.

    • The Phoenix, that’s precisely what I did – 5 weeks later, I attacked that sack of waste in a violent rage after I discovered hard evidence that his violent sexual interests were being entertained with a “Mistress” and that he had been spending quite a bit of money on “gatherings” in a large city about an hour’s drive from our home.


  4. Truthy- that ex and I were like oil and water and there’s a lot of bad history and blood between us. To say that he brought out the worst in me is a gross understatement. The hatred runs deep on that one. Ashes to ashes.

    I can say I have come a long way in healing from that relationshit, because with this one, the evidence I have seen of the things he has done- I can walk away the better person, because it’s not mine to own. I almost find it sad that he is such a spathetic waste of space. *Almost*

  5. While we have been damaged by those who are offenders, it is up to US to learn from and grow and heal from those damages, and we can’t do that if we don’t recognize what they have done to us, how we feel about what they are and what they do.

    We have two choices, and I believe ONLY two, and that is to let it make us BITTER or BETTER. Sure being ANGRY is a natural part of being injured, but to be angry about it forever and not resolve it makes us worse not better. It is up to US to take this hand we’ve been dealt and learn from it. It takes time, work and effort, but we can work on it, and I think must work on it. Or, they win.

    • Joyce, 100% spot-on. And, I needed the services of a professional counseling therapist in order to help be to begin processing my experiences – and, this isn’t just limited to what happened with the exspath, but the traumas of my entire life.

      A life lived in fear is a life lived in anger………and, I’m weary of BOTH of these feelings. They require a tremendous amount of energy and attention. UGH….

  6. Truthy, going to a professional counselor is an excellent suggestion…in fact, due to the trauma from the parole hearing I am going back to counseling. And I was a professional counselor, but you know there are some things we can “heal” without some outside help and an OBJECTIVE look at what is going on with our thinking and emotions. Believe me when I say that NONE OF US can be totally objective about our own situation. Sometimes just talking to a friend can help, but sometimes it is beyond a friend’s level of understanding.

  7. Joyce, as you know, there has been a recent series of events that required an “apology” from someone that was simply NOT forthcoming. “I’m sorry, but ______” does not fly with me.

    A true apology is not only saying, “I’m sorry,” but actually identifying what was done that was wrong and a visible and concerted effort to NEVER do whatever it was, again. This, also, is not forthcoming because the individual who created the series of events does not accept that their words caused harm, and that they have created drama as a result of their words.

    At one time, the “Old Truthspeak” might have continued gnawing on that bone in an effort to force someone who was deliberately out of line to understand what they did, etc. Well…..the “New Truthspeak” simply walks away from an insincere apology. I don’t have that kind of power to inform someone all about themselves, right?

    When I make a mistake that harms another person, I mandate myself to take responsibility for what I did and to try to see that I never make the same mistake. I don’t say, “I’m sorry that happened.” Well, whatever “that” was happened to be a direct result of MY actions, choices, or decisions. “I’m sorry that I did that and that it hurt you in THIS way……”

    I’ve been harmed enough by deliberate actions. It is not my wish to harm other people as I’ve been by mistake, or by deliberate choices. I will not sit in judgment of the exspath(s) and their actions if I don’t have the ability to fix my OWN issues so that I remain UNLIKE them, in every respect.

    I think it’s termed as “The pot calling the kettle black.” 😉

  8. Truthy ~

    You are so right, I think our healing depends on learning how to be sincere and the ability to recognize someone who IS NOT and WILL NOT EVER be sincere back. If that makes sense. When this happens, we need to consider ourselves lucky that we did not become any more invested than we had and RUN, don’t walk away.

    You state, “I don’t have that kind of power to inform someone all about themselves, right?” RIGHT! I believe it goes a little beyond the power to inform someone like this though. I believe people who obsessively crave and demand attention are VERY familiar with themselves and what we may see as their correctable traits or flaws are actually carefully planned manipulations. They manipulate by asking for help, crying out for help. Then whenever help is offered, they outwardly and sometimes cruelly reject it, many times attacking the very person who is offering the help. That is the drama.

    None of us need that kind of drama in our lives EVER again. Yes, walk away from the attention mongers because no matter how much attention you give them, it is NEVER enough. It is a personality disorder………


  9. Interestingly, Milo, your comment about how the persons “like that” (above) ask for advice then attack the advice giver or end up saying “yes, but that won’t work because….” it is a “game” as defined by Dr. Eric Berne in “Games People Play” and that particular game is called, you guessed it “Yes, but…”

    I’m sure you remember back a few years ago when I had the “house guest from hail” LOL She played her part well enough that she almost had me convinced it was “for real” but while it was frustrating and drama at the time, I DID LEARN FROM IT, and it was just, I think, another case of me having “flunked” a lesson and I got a chance to repeat that lesson until I got it.

    The particular case that Truthy is talking about (and you) from another place is one I (and some others) had seen “the hand writing on the wall” but all of us, including me, were too “gentle” with the perp—and I think that’s a side effect of all of us having been victims and at one time literally “crazy” with frustration, fear and grief, we are not quick to put labels of “crazy” or “bad” or “manipulative” on someone even when our “GUT” is telling us that is the case. I think there’s a lesson in that person’s behavior, and that lesson is that we NEED TO LISTEN TO OUR GUT SOONER.

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