I found the words in today’s post title on a great Mind/Body Health and Wellness site by Diane Tusek.
I used to hate apologizing.
There is a thread of narcissism that runs through me that I used to wear with pride when I was feeling the hubris of being out in the world in my early twenties, having survived the asphalt jungles of New York City with Lisa, then working our way through college with late nights and coffee, then working for awhile in news radio, and then working as one of the owners of a mortgage brokerage company.
No matter what the topic, political, social, educational, I had the answer and I pitied the fool who would refute my inherent know-it-allness or question my brilliant observations of everything in the world.
I kind of felt like I had it all figured out, and I could pretty much count on my opinions to get me where I needed to go, and if people got offended, who cared?
Then infertility came along.
All of my worldly knowledge was knocked flat by my entry into the foreign land of infertility treatments.
I angered Lisa constantly with my myopic views of infertility doctors, skepticism that it was really a money scheme, and completely ignorant belief that a sperm count of 1 million was more than enough to hit the mark.
For a couple of years into our infertility I couldn’t bring myself to say I was sorry for my opinions, or lack of desire to want to understand what we were going through.
That all changed in one afternoon.
We were toying with the idea of doing some immune treatments that I of course opposed, and some test results came back that were unfavorable (though I really didn’t understand why).
Lisa unraveled when she saw the results, and melted in a flood of tears in the corner of the kitchen.
“I can’t do this. I just can’t do this”.
But the words she kept forgetting at the end of those sobs, was “by myself”.
I began apologizing that day.
I was sorry for not realizing how much it meant to her to have a baby. Sorry I had intentionally kept myself in the dark about the science of what we were facing, and sorry that Lisa was taking on such a monumental task on her own.
It was liberating to say I was sorry.
Ever since then, I have found that being the first one to say I’m sorry can diffuse the anger over some stupid thing I’ve said or done.
It doesn’t matter if I’m right or not.
It matters that whatever it was I did or said upset Lisa, or Elliana.
The first time I apologized to Elliana, she was shocked.
I was in some impatient, self-absorbed mindset, and Elliana was just asking (for the 4th time in 5 minutes) if I was going to snuggle with her, and I just snapped her head off.
The hurt puppy dog eyes made me feel like crap, but for just a moment I was tempted to defend myself from the glare of Lisa’s “are you effing kidding me” look.
Now Elliana understands that even grown ups mess up, and the best way to fix it, is to say you’re sorry.
I can see that it doesn’t come easy to her though. She has the same genetic predisposition to know-it-all-itis that I have.
But she’s learning, and thankfully, I know I am setting a good example by apologizing, even if deep inside I still question what it was I did wrong.
In the end, I’ve learned that I value my relationships more than my ego.