The non-apology apology

I expressed a religious opinion which another woman felt was wrong. Not just wrong like a child humming a tune. Wrong like a 200-person choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. One of the words she hurled at me was ‘blasphemy.’

She verbally puked all over me trying to convince me that her opinion was the correct opinion. I think she was trying to get me to admit my opinion was wrong and to thank her for showing me the error of my ways.

She went away disappointed.

A few days later I bumped into her. She said, “I’m sorry if you were offended when I told you that you were wrong.”

I saw her shoulders relax and a little smile appear on her face. I realized this was her version of an apology, and she was relieved for having said it.

“Oh, okay.”

That’s all the words I could find at the moment.

This was the best non-apology apology I’ve ever received.

“Oh, okay,” was the best non-acceptance of a non-apology I could manage.

I don’t think of this very often, but when I do, I still shake my head in wonder. Now, I understand that an apology with a qualifier…an “if”, a “but,” or “because”…is probably not worth the heart it’s written on. It’s usually an excuse for poor behavior. A justification for not taking responsibility. 

“I’m sorry.” 

“I’m sorry I hurt you.”

“I’m sorry I misunderstood.”

“I’m sorry. I was wrong.”

If  you’re not sorry, my darlings, don’t waste your air. A non-apology is worse than no apology at all.  


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