Stuff I Wish You’d Quit Saying: I’m Sorry, But…
Worse still, “I am sorry you…”
I literally just did this. “I am sorry you…” This is not an apology. Just be sorry.
When Justin and I first got married, this was our battle zone. And it was the hill I was willing to die on. We’d fight. He doesn’t like to fight so he would “apologize” to get it over with.
But his apologies only ignited in me the wrath of Medusa.
“I am sorry that you are unreasonable.”
“I am sorry you are so emotional.”
“I am sorry you thought throwing that brush at my head was an effective means of communication.”
“I am sorry that you thought involving the police in our argument was reasonable, now officer if you could please remove these handcuffs…”
Needless to say, we are a passionate couple, in need of therapy.
So, I offended someone and was called out, and I did this: “I am sorry but…”
I know better. It is rude and further insulting. And it made me examine the sorry. If I offend someone, and I am sorry for my words, I can flat out say, “I am sorry.” I can even go as far as to say, “I am sorry, and I will immediately change the verbiage I used.” But if I meant what I said? Then how do I accurately convey that type of apology?
I am sorry but…
I am sorry if…
I am sorry you…
Ick. Sorry, but those are sorry apologies. That is no way to build up relationships or be granted forgiveness. And I literally just did this. And I was genuinely sorry. I wasn’t sure what I was doing for today’s post until I typed that very sorry, “Sorry.” I wish my response had been, “This was not my intended voice for this piece. I am sorry I offended you.” And although the reader may think I am a blubbering fool, I wrote a second apology.
In an apology, there needn’t be an explanation. I think the explanation should come before the apology if you want to effectively convey your remorse.
“I was very angry with you. I threw that brush at your head because I was frustrated. I am sorry.”
“Involving the police was dramatic. When you made fun of me for catching the kitchen on fire, I was embarrassed. I am sorry.”
But a “sorry” followed by explanation is a passive-aggressive apology. Second only to:
“I love you, but…”
Oh. My. Word.
And I am guilty of this too. But when I think about that? I am HORRIFIED. It insinuates love with a condition. And I know I have used this with the kids as a means of correction, but that is just bottom feeding parenting. Ew!
“Son, I love you, but if you cook a pound of bacon after midnight one more time, I am going to beat you with a frying pan.”
“Sophie, I love you, but if you don’t stop singing 1980’s one hit wonders, I am going to cry.”
“Sam, I love you, but if I have to see you naked one more time today, I am moving out.”
To put a condition on my love is more than juvenile. And it is simply the arrangement of the words and the habit in which I speak them.
“Luke, stop sneaking out of the window or I will staple your head to the carpet. I love you.”
“Maggie, there is a significant time difference in England and Texas. Stop face timing me at 3:00 am with all your suite mates gawking at me, or I am going to fly there, kick your lung out, and beat you with it. I love you.”
“John, when you go to the grocery store for bread and milk it does me no good if you sack the bread with the milk. It makes me want to pummel you. I love you.”
Over the course of the years, my husband has gotten much better at apologizing and has moved on to “One Minute Managing.” As I recall, my dad used to do this too. And now, Luke, the 16 year old has caught on. I am not sure this is a good thing, but it is very effective.
Luke: Mom, I appreciate you ironing my pants.
Me: Oh! You are so welcome.
Luke: My mocha frap doesn’t have quite as much whipping cream as I like.
Me: Uh. Okay, I will put more tomorrow.
Luke: Great! The toast is perfect. It is so nice of you to bring me breakfast after swim-team.
Me: I’m happy to do it.
Luke: Hey, have you ever thought of ironing with less starch?
Me: Uh… sure. I will use less.
Luke: Awesome. You’re doing a great job mom!
Yup. I drove home vowing to be better! I will try harder! I will use less starch and more whipped cream and… wait, just a second! It occurs to me I am a 45-year-old barista and laundress with $80,000 in student loans and a master’s degree working for a 16-year-old who has $7.28 in change in his underwear drawer and a bad case of acne. I should read “The One Minute Manager” and I might need to do a post on not saying overexaggerated and dramatic threats to my kids.
Alas, that is for another day.
Certainly, we can dress up the way we approach someone or how we say things… but not an apology. No, an apology is just, SORRY. Anything to dress up, emphatically deny, insistently try, or verbally indulge takes away from the very bottom of the apology which is as simple and easily stated as SORRY.
Sorry, but there is just no other way.
May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained. Love, Jami
“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens…” Ecclesiastes 3:1
Stuff You Should Be Reading!