Thursday, February 15, 2018

Types of Apologies (Part One)

In the past few weeks, I have been thinking about apologies.

I've thought about apologizes I've received and apologies I've given. I've thought about how some apologies are sincere and others are insincere. I've thought about how some apologies are an attempt to mend ourselves and our relationships, while other apologies are simply manipulative defense strategies.

I divided and came up with labels for thirteen different types of apologies. I was planning to do one big mega post with all of them but then decided it would be best to split my brilliancy into multiple posts. Well, because I'm sure I'm going to end up rambling on and on with almost every apology.

I'm going to start with the bad apologies and move my way up to the better ones. we go.

1.  GASLIGHTING APOLOGY- Gaslighting is in the news a lot lately, and I've blabbed a lot about it on this blog. But in case you don't know what it is.....

Gaslighting is when someone lies and/or denies reality. They do this to protect themselves, and it can lead to the victim questioning their sanity. Did it not really happen? Am I imagining things? Am I losing my mind? 

Not all gaslighting includes an apology. No I was NOT flirting with your cousin. I hardly even talked to her. Give me a break! How did you get to be so paranoid and controlling? Yet she personally witnessed him talking flirtatiously with the cousin...with her very own eyes and ears.  

With a Gaslighting Apology, there's a condescending apology along with denial. I do NOT remember screaming at you in the middle of the mall when you were a teenager. And why are you bringing this up now?  Anyway...are you sure you didn't dream it?  Maybe you read about it in a book?  But anyway...if you think it happened, I truly am sorry.  Of course there is a chance that the apologizer truly doesn't remember. But it's wise to be highly skeptical about that.  

2. VICTIMHOOD APOLOGY- This is where the perpetrator twists things around so he or she can place themselves in the victim-spotlight.  

They will either make themselves a victim of the person they hurt, or they will conveniently remember the many tragedies that have befallen them throughout their life.  

A man complains that his wife is always working late and almost all her free time is dedicated to her friends. He rarely sees his wife, and reluctantly opens up to her about this. She says, I'm sorry. Okay? But you are being so controlling. Am I not allowed to have friends?  Do you want to keep me prisoner in the basement. Do we really need to be around each other 24/7?  I wish I knew about your codependency issues before we got married. I think maybe you need to get some help.

The key here is exaggeration. You take a minor request and turn it into something crazy. I'd like you to spend a little less time with your friends and a little more time with me turns into, I want you to have no friends or freedom, and I want you to spend ALL your time with me.

Instead of this or along with this, the wife might bring up other hurts in her life. My parents were so strict and I wasn't allowed to go out with friends. I've just been so sad lately because I've been remembering how I was abused by a neighborI've been depressed lately, because I was demoted at work. I don't think I ever told you this, but I had a cancer scare when I was a teen. 

This can all be confusing for the receiver of the apology, because the problems are often real, so guilt is sometimes induced. When I've received apologies like this, I started to question myself. Am I a total bitch? Have I not been sympathetic enough? Am I selfish?  

I feel like the apologizer is being manipulative. They're bringing up these things to change my anger to pity. But I'm not completely sure. Yes, they've been cheerful the past few months. They have seemed totally okay. So it SEEMS like they are bringing up their hurts to distract me.  Yet some people hide depression. Could it be that they've been wearing a mask of happiness, and now that I've been confrontational with them, the mask is slipping? Have I just attacked a person in true pain?

I'm sure there ARE times where the latter is the case.  But I think often it's not the case, and the trick is to make us doubt ourselves. If we don't doubt ourselves; if we know for sure, that the person is crying crocodile tears; then we are dealing with someone who has very crappy manipulation skills.  

If we fully believe the apologizer and end up labeling ourselves as bitchy and insensitive; then we either have a very crafty manipulator, or we're simply uneducated and/or naive about manipulation.  

One thing I'd like to add is there are times where someone might be going through something difficult. They bring up their problems not as an excuse for what they've done but more as an explanation. How do you draw the line between explaining and manipulating? I'm not sure I know.

When I was bullied online about bloggers, I brought up the fact that I was currently having eating disorder issues. The bloggers had been furious because I spoke up against a fat-shaming post. I'm not sure if I apologized, but one of the ways I tried to ease the situation is by explaining that I was hypersensitive lately about weight issues.  I had recently brought up my eating disorder with my mom, and she had told me I never had an eating disorder. I had been very hurt and angry about this. That's one of the reasons I had responded to the fat-shaming post; though I hope I would have spoken out against it regardless.  

But anyway...I hope I wasn't trying to be manipulative with bringing up my own eating disorder issues. I want to believe I wasn't, but it could be I'm in denial?

Maybe I should try another example.

My sister and I got into a dramatic fight over Thanksgiving. She was strong enough and brave enough to initiate the apology, and I apologized in return. I think we reminded each other that we were both stressed. We both already knew the causes of each other's bad behavior. I had absolutely no suspicion that my sister was inventing or exaggerating stress to excuse how she behaved. And I know I hadn't invented stress to excuse my behavior.  

Ah! Maybe that's the difference between explaining and manipulating: exaggeration. With manipulation, there IS usually some kind of current or past hurt, but the victim exaggerates their distress, or the situation, to illicit pity.  With explaining (not excusing) there is no exaggeration.  

Let me give another example.

Let's say someone is rude to a friend via email. The rude person later reaches out and writes. I'm sorry I was rude in my last email. My boss has been giving me a really hard time, and I took it out on you. I shouldn't have done that. Sorry. In that story, the rude emailer really has been having a hard time at work, and it truly WAS the cause of her rude email.  

On the other end....

The friend writes to the rude emailer and expresses their annoyance and hurt. The rude emailer writes back. Yeah.I'm sorry about that. My aunt just died and I'm devastated. I can't stand all this pain in the world. I think I'm having major abandonment issues. The rude emailer wasn't at all close to this aunt, and the aunt was in her nineties, so it wasn't exactly a tragedy. But the emailer exaggerates the loss as an excuse for her rudeness.   

3. SHUT UP APOLOGY-In this apology, the sorry is just an alternative way of saying, shut up and/or leave me alone. It's a demand for the conversation to end immediately.  

A woman is angry because her wife broke her promise of cleaning the kitchen after her wild cooking adventure. Wife #1 confronts wife #2, and wife #2 says, I'm SORRY!  Okay? Can we drop it now?  

A woman brings up the fact that her husband hit her in the past. It's haunted her through the years. He says, For the fiftieth million time, I am fucking sorry. Okay? How many times do I have to say it?  Well, the thing is. He's never actually given a sincere apology. He's never shown regret. And he's never been open to discussing the incident with his wife.  

With the Shut-Up Apology, the apologizer will usually adopt an authoritarian tone—I'm the boss here. I get to decide what we do and don't talk about. YOU will be sorry if you try to cross that line.  

Anyway, that's it for now.

I shall write about more in a future post.