There’s a few words that are fairly hard to say. “I love you” is usually the hard one for many; I know the ex didn’t utter those words until we had been dating about a year. Don’t ask why I married that fool. The only explanation I can give is that I love a challenge.
I’ve never had a problem expressing any kind of emotion. If anything, I have probably uttered words too soon, too quickly and wished I could take them back.
Which may be why I have such a hard time saying “I’m sorry.”
I have said it a few times and each one has pained me to no end.
I can’t remember what those occasions were; I probably blocked them from memory, as if they were a traumatic event. But I am fairly certain those admissions of apology were made under duress. Or I had really, truly, blatantly messed up.
“You always have had a hard time saying you’re sorry,” Mama told me one day. I had undoubtedly done something she thought was wrong and was not taking the proper responsibility for it, at least according to her.
“Yeah, well, Gibbs’ rule No. 6: Never say you’re sorry – it’s a sign of weakness,” I reminded her of her favorite show, “NCIS.”
“It may be a sign of weakness, but it also can be a sign of great courage to admit one is wrong,” was her reply.
It’s not that I think I am always right; I don’t.
If anything, I know I am wrong a considerable amount of the time. I have just found that usually, when I do something that would warrant an apology, I have been provoked by someone else’s actions to do something just downright mean. It’s the norm for me to try to make nice because I have a Mama still telling me how to act and behave at 41 years of age. I just don’t think I should have to say I am sorry when someone has been a jerk first.
“You know who else didn’t like to apologize?” Mama asked.
“Granny,” she said. “No wonder y’all are just alike.”
I rolled my eyes.
Mama’s way of trying to coerce me into acting right was to tell me I was acting like my dearly departed grandmother. Only problem was, it didn’t work the way Mama wanted it to. I knew darn good and well how Granny had been and really, I didn’t have any more of a problem with it than when the old gal had been alive and kickin’.
“No, come to think of it, I don’t think I ever heard Granny tell anyone ever she was sorry,” I said.
Nope, I was pretty sure those words never came out of her mouth. I heard some other colorful expressions, but didn’t recall hearing her tell anyone anything close to an apology.
Even over the last few years, the old gal and I had been at odds over things, various things and both being stubborn as bulls, neither one of us yielded an inch on our stance.
Those disputes and tiny battles had festered into full wars, where neither of us mentioned them in our bitter avoidance. Maybe we were doing the civilized thing, by not fighting them out – the last time she and I had tied up, it was my uncle who intervened and when Bobby had to step in, I knew our verbal battles had gotten out of hand. So we said nothing about those issues, those wars. And by saying nothing, neither one of us said we were sorry either.
“I never told Granny I was sorry,” I told Mama after I had time to think about all of this.
Mama’s a good listener, though, and knew all that short sentence implied.
“Well, Kitten, it wouldn’t have mattered if you had,” she said softly.
“I know; Granny wouldn’t have said she was sorry too, but that shouldn’t matter. I should have been the one to say I was sorry. It bothers me that I didn’t and now, I don’t have that chance.”
“Well, you are right that Granny wouldn’t have said she was sorry, too, because you know Granny was never wrong about anything. But, it wouldn’t have mattered because No. 1, you two are just exactly alike. She loved that. It made her proud. No. 2 … she also knew, just like you knew about her, that was not how y’all really felt. Saying you were sorry may have made you feel better, but was not necessary.”
Maybe so. Maybe Mama was right. It would have made me feel better, especially now, when that chance was not there. And maybe, the people we love, that we hurt the most, know exactly how we feel without us having to say it.