Anatomy of an apology

Hello readers,

Today’s blog post was completely unplanned, but I feel it’s really important for me to share it.

I was reading something online today, and reference was made to a comment that was negative. Guess what? I am 99.6% sure that negative comment was made by me.


So, I read that, and I felt it. It stung. I didn’t like that feeling. I felt ashamed and caught out and guilty, and defensive.

Quick – I need a distraction!

I went to do the dishes. Desperate times, right….

While I was doing the dishes I was engaged in an internal argument with several voices competing for my loyalty – ah, the joys of a multi-track mind.

One track was justifying myself, kidding myself that I didn’t really mean what I’d said, that the person was overreacting, that I now had cause to feel offended because of their response. That’s an old, old voice in my head. Duck and weave. Duck and weave. Just get the focus OFF what I did, and quick.

Another track was thinking, shit Annette, you’ve fallen back into thoughtlessness AND BEEN CALLED OUT ON IT! I hate the internet.

Another track was telling me to apologise, immediately.

After five or ten minutes of back and forth between these competing voices, I knew which voice to listen to.

Thankfully it was the one telling me to apologise.

Apologise. Do it now. Don’t waffle on, just say you were wrong (which I was) and that you are sorry (which I am).

Attractive stuff, right?

Has writing this broken the no. 1 blogging commandment – be all shiny and happy and look at what I made and how neat my house is and how I face adversity with grace, blah, blah, blah? No, I don’t think so. Those days are over, at least for the kind of blogs I like to read, and the one I’m determined to write.

As an interesting counter-melody, today’s FatMumSlim PhotoADay prompt is ‘Can’t Live Without’. Earlier this morning, I’d been thinking about what I’d post for that and how I’d capture it in a photo, and I was actually thinking that rather than be glib (HA! sweet irony) and say chocolate (which I can’t imagine living without) I’d go for something more meaningful, perhaps words, or language, or community.

And then I read about my negative stupidity and practically bolted away from my computer.

I’ve written the apology. I have no control over whether it will be received or believed. That’s okay – well actually, that sucks – but I was wrong and all I can do was say that, I was wrong, I am sincerely sorry. So I did that.

I rejected the temptation to write a long message, including the things the other voices wanted me to write – oh that’s just the way I am, I didn’t mean anything by it, diluting my apologies with justifications, avoidance, diversions… nope. I’m not going to pour salt into the wound by being a dickhead TWICE.

Any apology with the word ‘if’ in it – you know the ones the lawyers or HR Department craft, the kind politicians use after saying poor people don’t drive… I think they are a waste of time. Had I written “if my mean comment on the internet hurt you, I’m sorry” it would be doubly offensive.

There’s something really powerful and important that today has reminded me of – when I am wrong, when I use my words as weapons, or to withhold encouragement or praise, it is actually a profoundly valuable thing to be called out on that. It’s not pleasant, but it is necessary for my growth. I needed to feel ashamed and have that argument with myself, to come to the right choice and try and make amends for what I did. So there’s that, and don’t do that anymore.

So, there you have it dear readers. As well as being someone who has many good qualities, I can also be an idiot. Who knew? (I did.)

I think I’ve settled on an idea for the #fmsphotoaday picture.

Thanks for listening.








20 thoughts on “Anatomy of an apology

  1. I don’t know how to eloquently start this comment, so I’ll just start here. I totally agree with you – if you know you’ve done wrong, apologise. Like you said, don’t dilute it with distractions or explanations – just say you’re sorry and be done with it. It’s better for all involved.


  2. Good on you for stepping up to the plate – I admire the ability to say ones sorry. We are always learning and evolving … even at our young age!! I don’t think you ever stop, the big thing is you recognised that someone was hurting or feeling not so good about something that transpired between you – you took steps to rectify that and address things – that shows me the measure of a good person with a kindly heart. Being able to address things shows personal courage as still the reaction and/or forgiveness may not be forth coming, but you have shown great personal insight to see that upset has occurred and you genuinely wanted to right that and acted on it.


  3. Annette, we all make mistakes, and by the sounds of it you have really owned yours. Apologising is the right thing, guilting yourself til you feel sick is not. Once you’ve apologised you can only hope that the person understands that you are genuinely sorry and you can all move on. We are all only human and sometimes the foot gets in the mouth. Cheers to you for saying the sorry word.


    • Dianna, I reckon the only thing worse than stuffing up is refusing to own up to it!
      I’m not a fan of knowing I upset someone – I’ve done what I can now. Thanks for your kind words.


  4. I can’t bear the thought of having upset anybody – it would eat me up too. I hope both you and the person in question feel lighter after the apology. The whole “if it upset you” thing is back-handed and insincere – I am glad that you steered clear of it.


  5. Dear Annette, I so feel for you. It’s a great gift to be able to apologise as so much more hurt is caused when people who hurt others , even unintentionally, refuse or are unable to say sorry.
    I do hope the person you feel you have offended feels some solace from your apology.
    We have no control over whether someone will forgive us even when we are genuinely sorry.
    You’ve done the right thing. Be grateful you have the insight and the fortitude to apologise.
    Now it’s time to forgive yourself.


  6. Well said Annette! I always say “if you stuff up fix it” and “saying ‘sorry but…’ is not really saying sorry”. How brave and admirable of you to share this on the interwebs, I just love and admire your authenticity, it really inspires me 🙂


    • That is very kind Rachel – I like your sayings too. Apologising readily (after the internal argument) is my way of giving the bird to my proud, stubborn side. I refuse to allow that to rule, much as it sometimes wants to. No way. I will NOT be that person. Honesty is super important to me – so, imperfectly, I plod along towards that goal.
      Appreciate your encouragement. It’s needed!


      • You’re so welcome Annette 🙂 I love the visual you created for me of flipping the bird to your stubborn side 🙂 Sometimes it feels like swallowing barbed wire when I apologise but I always know it’s the right thing to do and I never add a ‘but’ no matter how much my pride wants me to! I actually think I should change the saying from “if you stuff up…” to “when you stuff up…” because we are human so therefore stuff-ups are inevitable right!!!


  7. A heartfelt apology always has a place. The internet and email and texting have all made us a bit more accountable for our words. It’s there in black and white for anyone to see so all we can do is be honest and genuine but also mindful and respectful of other people’s feelings. I hope your apology was accepted x


  8. What a fabulous post. I have struggled all my life with apologizing – stubbornness I believe. And I still don’t have it right…….. I love how you described your process of getting to “apology”. I hope I have learned from you and can apply what you’ve taught. Really tough lesson to learn………


    • Hi Joan, thanks for taking the time to read my musings and comment – I think the key is to have the inner battle quickly – but go through all the stomping and justifications then – and then get to the apology quickly. And never, ever qualify it! Just I’m sorry. Such powerful words to hear, and to say.


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