If you went skiing with me in the last decade you know one of the things I am equally super terrified of and sucky at is navigating the chairlift. In fact, I am still shit-scared of chairlifts (not these guys) (yes, this guy). But, every now and again I force myself to get on one to avoid being consumed by my fears and discovered all huddled and mummified in my closet.
The same is true about apologizing – not my strong suit outside of customer/client service situations. Don’t get me wrong, I apologize all day long for little things, like when I wind up in that awkward street shuffle with someone because I can’t work out which direction I’m going or when my kid turns off the freezer at the grocery because that damn button is so flashy and fun and right at his eye-level. In most cases, I’d say I strive to act pretty dang diplomatic so as not to owe huge beg-pardons. My run-ins have usually come from writing an overly terse email because I totally think I’m right about something, and to hell with empathy and that walking a mile in your shoes jazz. Well, I was on the receiving end of one of those this week. And then my week pretty much downward spiraled until I found myself planning a breakfast for one of French Toast with Nembutal syrup. Basically, I figured I have two choices: 1) fire up the griddle or 2) use this friggin’ blog as I planned to put some words out into the universe in hopes of some karmic release.
Despite my devout adherence to the guiding principle that “our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them,” I am too often a jerk. This comes as no surprise to you, I know. I could tell you 1001 things about self-esteem issues and the short of “crush or be crushed” mentality ingrained during my formative years. I could explain that expat life, while awesome, can also be alienating, frustrating and keep you constantly on the defensive. That’s not what I am doing though. I want to say this:
I am sorry for all the times I ruined your day by making you feel anything less than the superstar you are. You didn’t deserve it. I understand if you find it tough to forgive me for repeated offenses.
I don’t think I’m better than you (or anyone). I’m not trying to keep information from you or set you up for failure. I’m not plotting a takeover or a take-down. I ask questions because I want to know what you think, because I’m unsure about something, or because I’m trying to think through the whole thing too. Those aren’t meant to be challenges, and I apologize that I seem overly aggressive about it sometimes. Toeing the line between intelligently sticking up for myself and making you feel attacked is a trick I’ve yet to master.
Before you ask me to whisper the name of the person this apology is meant for, let me clarify. This apology is not to the sender of the aforementioned message. I do owe these words to many other people. That pains me to say, but it’s so. For all the efforts I’ve poured into cultivating my secret super-hero powers, I am ultimately just an ordinary, flawed human being. If I keep believing I can fulfill my purpose in life and actually improve the journey for at least one other person, then I have to be OK with that. To not be OK means I’ll be cooking up my last meal rather than punching through these tough times.
If you have any tips for apologizing for long-past incidents or finding karmic release that don’t involve standing outside anyone’s house with Bieber blasting from a boombox, please share in the comments.