i’m sorry my apology sounds insincere, I’ll try to make it more convincing next time

apology-form

Most of what I do as a counselor, besides deep listening, is to help hold pain. Injuries linger long after the horror of events/words have slithered across my clients’ fragile hearts. Age matters not a bit; traumas big or small, remain. One reason I’m contracted to assist in the soothing of psychic wounds is that the ‘perpetrators’ and witnesses haven’t acknowledged the hurt, haven’t apologized.

Apologies don’t have to mean you’re wrong, the other’s right, you did anything deliberately. They’re more about empathy, about caring that the other’s hurt, that the relationship means more to you than your self-pride or the polarized world of right/wrong, bad/good.

No one wants reasons either, at least not up front; those won’t salve the wound. There can be explanations but only after one is attentive to the others’ pain. Apologies are not about you or about being forgiven; they’re about compassion.

My friend, “Fred,” was often left waiting for his dad to pick him up from elementary school, sometimes over two hours, as other kids left, then teachers, then janitors…there was Fred leaping on curbs, skidding rocks and otherwise entertaining himself until his dad finally showed. Before Fred could get into the car he’d hear, “Wow, you’ll never guess who I met up with,” or “The coolest thing happened,” ad nauseum. Fred wasn’t given an apology but a “fun” excuse so there wasn’t room for him to have his own feelings of frustration, fear or anger—but he’d learned long before 3rd grade to suppress pretty much any true emotions around his self-absorbed parents.

Once, when Dario was two-ish, we biked past a crying toddler. He became distressed and asked me to turn back to “see her again” suggesting we hug her. By then her mom was there comforting. For the rest of the ride home, Dario continued to postulate why she’d been crying and what we might’ve done to “happy her.” There’s nary a young kid who doesn’t have natural empathy.

This is what happens to empathy:

  • If you don’t receive any you don’t have any to give. You can’t dispense something you rarely feel. If apologizing is seen as weakness or fulfilled in right/wrong thinking instead of a compassionate act of soothing distress, pride sets in and spins kindness into selfishness.
  • Our paradigm shames or belittles those who want to care, who’re exhibiting emotional pain or grief and often reveres those who don’t. It’s manly to disregard needs in others, in themselves, to not cry, to be “strong.”

Ironically, compassion is where true strength lives.

Attempt an apology that’s NOT about defending your position. Instead: Listen! Accept another’s suffering whether you think it’s justified or not. Remember? It’s not about you. What you think doesn’t really matter. Lastly, ask what can be done to resolve the hurt. There’ll be space for explanations, for your opinion afterwards. Be a soft witness to the other first. Especially with children—Please!

But truthfully, we all have a “fair/unfair meter” within us and we hunger for this same tender treatment.

gas pedal’s on the right!!

giddyupSo, I’m having a conversation about tailgaters with a friend and the quasi-spouse. Close-call stories are being related that illustrate the hazards of tailgating but what I mainly construe is how slow the person in front of the “close call” was going. The loathing of people who text-while-driving obviously extends to bumper-humpers, too.

There’re many bumper-stickers about this topic:

  • The closer you get, the slower I drive
  • In a hurry? Not my problem
  • Sorry for driving so close in front of you
  • Faster than Molasses. 

My personal favorite because I’m often crabbily saying, “Could you drive any slower?”:

  •  YES, I can drive slower.

A rebuttal bumper-sticker:

  • If you drove any slower, you’d be parked.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an advocate of tailgating, but, if I’m passing you on the right while driving the freeway, you’re in the wrong lane for leisurely travel. In Italy, it’s illegal to be in the left lane—as in the USA—unless you’re passing. Cars will flash lights, honk and tailgate until you change lanes. Those drivers may drive at speeds that some in the States feel is ridiculously fast but, over there, slower drivers are thoughtful and courteous instead of stubbornly self-righteous like here in the USA. And THEY OBLIGINGLY MOVE OVER.

I come by my feelings naturally. My mamma was a lead-foot, and I grew up with gentle verbal venting from both parents: “What?! You have cakes/eggs in the trunk?!” (mamma) “If I had that guy’s car and he had a feather up his ass, we’d both be tickled.”(dad) Next, my ex, who would regularly remark, “Green means GO in Colorado” or “Gas pedal’s on the right.”

We who listened to our adults amicably bitch about “other drivers” tend to pass this behavior on. When Tara was a toddler and we were waiting for Steve in the car, she stood in the driver’s seat turning the wheel, pretended to honk and in her sweet baby voice said, “Beep Beep!” Futching Atso!!” When Steve slid in, I said, “Hmmm, we don’t want Tara’s first phrase to be ‘Fucking Asshole,’ do we?” We probably managed about 4-5 days before ineffectively spouting some useless language that other drivers couldn’t even hear. Some years later I remember saying to Dario, “See how pointless this is? Their window’s closed; my window’s closed…Don’t do this when you drive.” Unfortunately, we often learn by osmosis.

Yes, tailgating is foolish. Texting is downright deadly. But couldn’t we all be a bit kinder? A tad more tolerant, less mean speech? At least my parents, my ex, myself and my kids are just venting. We’re not spewing self-righteous toxins at those who’re young, or untaught or just different. Nothing justifies nasty.

Which is worse, tailgating or poky driving? Both suck. Still, for me it’s about consideration. Couldn’t we all carry a bit more grace? Grace for the fearful, old or mellow; grace for those who hear a speedier rhythm and prefer to drive that pace. There is no right or wrong here, except intolerance.

 

 

why women don’t date nice (entitled) guys

Years ago, a male friend bemoaned that women liked the ‘bad boys’ but only wanted to be friends with ‘nice guys,’ like him. “I clean up the snot and tears those guys leave,” he said. “I do the work, he got the benefits. Then she falls in love with one of those guys all over again.”

Yes. That’s how it looked to him. Except, this ‘nice guy’ was a ‘nice’ player; he fell in love with being in love, not women. He’d write breathtaking love letters, buy thoughtful presents, speak intelligentsia, woo and delight until one day that ‘she’ seemed tarnished. No actual woman could live up to his entitled dreams of perfectionism.

When he fell out of love he always thought she was flawed, not his unrealistic ideals. His usual time span was two years before he’d hurt his woman with an affair, throwing over the artist for the professor, the torch singer for the judge, the writer for the dancer.

Yes, a nice guy.

Too often the myth that women like assholes or in their submissive heart of hearts want a master continues to be written and is frequently used to justify men’s bad behavior by telling women what they like and don’t like. But analysis doesn’t bear this falsity out. In various studies, being kind, sensitive and trustworthy are often at the top of women’s list. Noooo! Really!?

Entitled people often think they know what others want, need or even think. They’ll insist you like things you don’t, or tell you you’ve thought things that you haven’t. Arrogantly projecting their needs, fears or judgments about you onto you is common. If you protest, you’re wrong, too sensitive, too dramatic.

Privileged people can’t know what they don’t know and they don’t know what’s ‘below’ them. The wealthy, many conservatives, whites, males, adults to children, middle age-ers to seniors, being born in the U.S. vs. Haiti, etc. often breed a class of people who only know what they would do, what they need and they don’t have much compassion for what they haven’t experienced or don’t understand. Demanding others pull themselves up by their bootstraps, the entitled don’t realize those ‘others’ may not even have boots.

Some of these entitled ‘nice guys’ delude themselves that they are nice because—comparatively–maybe they are, but heartfelt kindness consists of more than one action, is deeper than one aspect of personality. The comic character above sees only his personal slant while being blind to his blanket judgment of “all women.”

Regardless of gender or age, we’re all looking for a bit more kindness, understanding. We want to be seen as we are, not as we’re told we are. [see Women Aren’t Food]

If you’re not getting the attention you need from women maybe instead of deciding what they’re doing or not doing, you might turn your gaze to yourself.