My sociopathic ex was never sorry for anything. Oh, yes, he “apologized” sometimes, but it was only to get me to shut up or because he knew he’d already lost the argument or knew I was right (but he wasn’t really sorry.) It was insulting how stupid he must have thought I was to believe these “apologies” were sincere.
Unless they are incredibly good actors and are hoovering you (trying to reel you back in, like a Hoover vacuum sucks up dirt) or love-bombing you (stalking you as prey), no apology coming out of a narc’s mouth is going to sound sincere. Of course, it’s easy to fall for those “sincere” apologies when they’re feeling needy, but there are always other red flags you can look for, such as crowding you, moving too fast, or trash-talking all their exes (make no mistake, he or she will eventually trash-talk you too).
Life doesn’t present you with many opportunities to make amends to people in your distant past, but yesterday I had just such an opportunity.
A woman I knew back in the 1970s when we were in 7th and 8th grades contacted me on Facebook. At first I didn’t understand why this woman was sending me a friend request and I didn’t recognize her name so I asked her where she knew me from. It turned out this was the girl I bullied at the Catholic school we both attended.
I wasn’t normally the kind of kid who was a bully. Usually, I was the one getting bullied. However, there were 2 exceptions–this woman, and another girl I attended a class at the Y with when I was 9 years old. In both situations, I perceived that these two girls were even more vulnerable than I was, and I liked the approval I got from the “cooler” kids for my behavior toward them. At the time, it proved that I wasn’t at the very bottom of the pecking order, even though I was close to it. Kids that age are incredibly mean.
I always felt badly about the way I treated her. The strange thing is, this isn’t the way this woman remembers things. She told me she’s sorry for bullying me! I don’t remember her bullying me, but maybe we bullied each other and she doesn’t remember. Memory is a funny thing, especially when so many years have elapsed, but the important thing is that her contacting me provided me with the opportunity to exorcise that particular demon and move on from the guilt I’ve held all these years.
Closure can open new doors, even as one door is closing for good. There are so many other doors we can’t even imagine. Doors that may be right in front of us but we can’t see until we accept that the old door will never open again.
Sometimes just apologizing to someone can lighten your emotional load and bring closure to an uncertain or painful situation.
I had been struggling with severe guilt and shame over some things I said to someone whose views I respect. I never had ill intentions or alternative motives but this individual reacted in (what I thought was) an extreme way to my obliviousness and insensitivity.
While this individual has still chosen to no longer be friends, I respect their views about that and I think that decision is for the best.
For my part, I just feel so much better now that I apologized and had the opportunity to thank them for their friendship when it was needed. It’s no longer necessary, and because I reached out in sincerity and humility, I feel like I can finally move on. I feel so much lighter and freer than I did before I reached out. There has been closure, and that’s always a good thing.