Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Elicitor of apologies

The Ex emailed me over the long weekend to say "It may be a little late, but I am so sorry."

There should be some validation in these words, something reassuring in his realization of how raw I had become when I finally walked out the door. Instead, there is concern- knowing him as well as I do, he must be at a very low place indeed for this realization to have come about. Rock bottom seems the only surface hard enough to rattle him. By all accounts, this is where he has fallen.

I can't help but remind myself that he knows me well, too. Maybe this is why I'm hesitant to accept this apology as an entity in and of itself. It feels as though there are implicit conditions involved, that by me reaching out to receive these words, I am also obligated to check in on him, ask how he is, wish him well. He knows this is my tendency. I'm afraid I may be pathetically incapable of just taking what I need from this apology, despite having been meticulous in my lack of contact, only returning messages, never starting them. He's seen me do this before, in my comprehensive responses to the pleas for support from another ex, the one who I had never sought out in the seven years after he had stomped on my heart, but saw fit to email me out of sheer desperation, depression and his own experience of heartbreak, supposedly because I was the only person he could think of for genuine support. The Ex told me I was a fool then, and now that he is playing that role, it is the Duke who is telling me not to be a fool, that this apology is just bait from a lonely man.

I attract apologies like a magnet.

These apologies only occur under very specific conditions, though. My heart must have been stomped on, or, at the very least, kicked around a little. I must have healed it through sheer force of will, initially by faking the steps of moving on until there is real force behind my footsteps. The contact then must occur utterly out of the blue, a ringing phone piercing my unrelated thoughts. Then comes the sorry's, the declarations of ruminations, of guilt, of not knowing what they had at the time, in more or less words. Sometimes this is stated in the form of simple catharsis, free of motivations, while other times, it is more like an attempt to get a toe back in the door they may have well slammed themselves. This scenario has plated out five times now, in one form or another, starting at age 15 up to this weekend.

I used to place this in a romanticized framework. I told myself I had served a purpose in their lives, taught them a lesson, that I had come into their lives a year or two too early. Now I wonder about what it really says about me. Maybe it isn't that I am this wonderful, earnest, unappreciated woman. Maybe there is something specific to me that leads me to be taken for granted. Maybe they just know that I'm the easiest person in the world to apologize to-- that I will accept it even when I shouldn't.

(And, yes, my Google Reader is at 500 and rising. Your Princess is a very, very busy bee on the verge of drowning-- shan't bored you with the details. So sorry for the lack of bloggie love. Just take pleasure in the fact that each time one of you posts something new and my number rises, it is like you are giving me your own personal mini-guilt trip!)


the almost right word said...

I know, so well, what you are writing about here.

Just recently, the thought occurred to me to email an ex. It has been at least two years since we last communicated and I was listening to music that, suddenly, reminded me of him and all the wonderful tunes he introduced to me. I thought, "I should email him, let him know that I'm thinking about him."

But what does this say? I'm not interested in really being in touch with him. Our relationship was self-destructive, abusive and all-around horrible. There is no reason to invite him back in to my life, even without an official invitation.

Your ex is looking for your response. He wants to hear something from you...acceptance, mainly, but also (I would imagine) that you're interested in reconnecting with him...if only to say those simple things, "I hope you're well," etc. etc.

Is it worth it? Is it just a power-play? Is it necessary to respond at all?

Hug your Duke and focus on the present.

Crushed said...

You know what you need to say?

'No, you're not. You're not sorry. You just want to know it's still ok, and know my annoyance will deflate on hearing your apology. It's not the same thing and sorry is as sorry does'.

Try it :)

Rachel said...

I say just give him a short reply, something that lets him know you received the message but don't want anything else.

"Fine" or

"Okay then" or


brandy said...

I can relate to this so much. I'm in the same boat- I get apologizes all the times, I think it's because people know I find any sort of apology/confrontation talk awkward so I will brush it off with an 'it's okay', which then absolves their guilt. People are tricky.

Also? Google reader is my enemy.

Anonymous said...

I have mixed feelings on this one, as you know well. Considering I still speak to all of my exes, bar one, and am on good terms with them, at some point apologies did take place. Usually on their part because I wasn't the one who wronged them.

Occasionally, it comes up now and again about the poor behavior but the friendship now makes up for it. Though to be fair, I have no desire for a friendship with D. Just K and GDB (as you already know.) I think boys do often apologize to make themselves feel better and not feel like the stereotypical jerk. But I need to decide is he reaching out because he still has feelings for you (which we know) or is he reaching out because he has no one else. They can be two very different things.

And no worries on the google reader. We'll play catch up soon.

Psychgrad said...

I'm not sure if a response exists that is relatively polite but clear in not wanting to provide support or open further communication with him.

Maybe: A little late, but I've moved on.

Jenn said...

I don't talk to my exes. Most of my relationships didn't end on good terms. The most recent one just emailed me out of the blue on Monday to tell me he's happy that I'm happy. While appreciated, it's random and I have to wonder where it came from.

Bleh, I'm no help on this one. Sorry!

Ant said...

Aye, you know my thoughts on this one too.

So I'll just ask: what's with the Verdana?

ToughGirl101 said...

I told this to duke, and he's hated me for saying it.. but when he talks about how most of his girlfriends are this way, or that way etc. I tell him "well, the only common denominator is YOU".

If all of them took you for granted, then yes, the common denominator is you. Whether it be that you choose people that will take you for granted, or that you're so wonderful all the time that they think that that's just how you are and that you don't need affection and encouragement.

Either way, from what I have read of you and Duke, you seem happy and you don't seem to be taken for granted. I think you might hve found your good middle ground.

Princess Pointful said...

No idea what is up with the font. I wrote the bit in really small font at the bottom first, and I can't seem to get the settings back to normal for the rest of the font. It keeps on switching sizes and types whenever I go to change in back, so I'm just not touching it.

Not meant for dramatic effect, though!

And, yes, I have found my good middle ground. He appreciates me, but kicks my butt when I'm being too much of a doormat.

sequined said...

I think it's okay to be ambivalent about an apology. You're not obligated to accept it and him back into your life.

You're allowed to be honest with him and yourself and say "thanks, but I'm not ready to deal with this right now."

Brett said...

i've often been the apologizer and know from experience that the apologie is give only because i expect an apologie or forgiveness or both

Anonymous said...

Sometimes the truth is best. You could just say: Thank you for your apology. And nothing else. Thank you doesn't mean you accept it.

I had an ex email me out of the blue to apologize and was wondering how I was, etc. My friend said, don't respond. My sister said, just tell him the truth. I did: I said thank you for your apology. I'm doing well. I'm getting married next summer. Of course I got no response from him in return and life went on.

Katelin said...

i am an apology magnet too it seems like. but then again i'm also quick to give them out as well. gah. predicament.

Bayjb said...

I would totally be ambivilant back to him about this. Why is he really apologizing, is it because he means it or is it more to make himself feel better. Those kinds of apologies are always uncomfortable because you don't know the real meaning behind it and you don't know how to respond.

Surfergrrl said...

whatever the motivation is, i would simply just say, thank you, and that's about it. that's accepting whatever he gave you but not necessarily taking the bait if that's what he's after.

Dexter Colt said...

Personally, I feel the apology is an attempt to assuage the self-pity he's feeling upon hitting rock bottom. My ex did that sort of thing. Then, once she felt the apology had taken root she'd return right back to being her old self.

Some people have to reach a lonely and desperate place before they can apologize. But, you never know if it is sincere. Maybe they're just trying to get a foot in the door.

Yoda said...


Apologies mean different things to different people. And yes, very often it requires us to hit rock bottom before we can look past our own hubris and apologize.

Maybe he doesn't want anything at all? Maybe one fine day he was reflecting on the past, and felt that he'd wronged you in some way and needed to apologize. Sometimes, its just what it is. "I'm sorry". At least that's the way its with me, anyways :-D

Being Brazen said...

A e-mail from an Ex always leaves me thinking many things....Its just never as simple and straightforward as it reads..or is it?

Real Live Lesbian said...

I, too completely understand. I will not accept an apology from my ex. I will just never believe it's honest.

Rachel said...

I am late on commenting on this but this whole paragraph: "I used to place this in a romanticized framework. I told myself I had served a purpose in their lives, taught them a lesson, that I had come into their lives a year or two too early. Now I wonder about what it really says about me. Maybe it isn't that I am this wonderful, earnest, unappreciated woman. Maybe there is something specific to me that leads me to be taken for granted. Maybe they just know that I'm the easiest person in the world to apologize to-- that I will accept it even when I shouldn't."

hit way, way close to home. I accept apologies even when I shouldn't, because probably in the back of my mind I think it will lead to me getting what I want from the person -- even though it never does, and I probably shouldn't want something I need to work so hard for anyway.

Joy @ Big Time Fancy said...

At least you're getting apologies? Some of us will be waiting for a LONG LONG time to hear a simple "I fucked up and I'm sorry."

And really? Your ex is looking for validation. Something like: "Oh, it's okay. I accept your apology and you're still a good person in my eyes!"

S'Mat said...

You seem to abide by the humanist heuristic of reciprocity: that social more dedicated to generating syncopation of emotions (or engendering empathy)... unfortunately, a breakup is usually a breakdown of this mutual respect, both parties separating and attempting to validate how they've been wronged.

If you ask me, though, there's nothing wrong with receiving an apology. It does not necessarily indicate anything other than an admittance of self-inspection. The authenticity of which can only be discovered with follow-up conversations.

Not to be too brazen, but you are not required to do ANYTHING in response to his apology. No need to forgive, no need to forget, no need for correspondence. His apology is his vocalization that he's perhaps felt some compassion recently.

I'm know I will never get an apology from my Ex. She was flat-out abusive, and if the gender roles had been reversed, would be considered a violent drunk asshole. Doesn't stop me from sometimes wanting a simple recognition just how horrid she'd been though.

Much respect for airing this here.

Anonymous said...

You know, even if it's not the case, I would just take it at face value and not respond at all. He said he was sorry, you're not interested in rehashing or rekindling, so just let it be. ;)

cdp said...

There is nothing pathetic about sometimes being incapable.

And I love it when people say shan't.


Lauren said...

I really liked this post.

I received the "i was stupid then" talk by an ex, so I know what you're going through.

Just thank him and move on. He's in your past. You don't have to think about him anymore. It's good that you attract apologies. It means that the guys realize that they were wrong all along.

Stupid guys.

Also, i'm way behind as well on my google reader. Ergh.

dmb5_libra said...

i liked this post....also i read the fine print :)

brookem said...

apologies often come way too late. i know for a fact that you ARE a wonderful woman. and if these men didn't appreciate you then, it is their own problem. don't let these (late) apologies make you question what a wonderful person you are. their issues are just that, THEIR own. i think people probably feel as though they can reach out to you because of the kindhearted person you are. keep strong lady. contact from an ex, in any form, especially unexpected, always tends to rattle us up.

Matt said...

I'm sorry.

you dont have to reply to that apology.

I just wanted to give you one more.

Sorry again.


Anonymous said...

So, I've been trying to leave a message now, and for some reason ms cdp's website keeps popping up asking for permission to leave her avatar.

But that's beside the point.

Wanted to second what brandy said. Because, yes, people are tricky, and they just wanna hear the, "oh, that's ok" response. And it's not ok. So don't give it to him.