mariana stauffer

Mariana Stauffer

Sorry. A little word with a big impact. Genuinely meant as an expression of remorse, it has the power to restore a relationship.

But how many times can someone say sorry before it becomes valueless?

If you have heard ‘Sorry’, once too often or worse still, don’t hear it all,then it’s time things changed.

‘How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.’ – Wayne Dyer

My damaging and dysfunctional childhood resulted in a complete lack of self-esteem and worth. So it wasn’t surprising that as an adult I found myself in a relationship where sorry was never spoken. In his world sorry was a sign of weakness and to preserve his perception of his superiority he would say or do anything but apologize.

It didn’t matter how abusive he became, it was always someone else’s fault. Actually it was nearly always my fault – I was too sensitive, too intense, too controlling, too critical. And even when I would feel brave enough to confront him about his name calling and put downs, I would be accused of having no sense humor. But believe me, there was nothing funny about the verbal abuse and his unreasonable demands.

Thankfully I started to challenge my own victim mentality and realized that although he wasn’t going to change, I could. Finding the courage to make the transition from victim to survivor, I learnt that the responsibility for my happiness lay with me. And I grasped a truth that was the catalyst for my healing –  you can ‘t change other people and you can’t change the past. But you can choose how you react.

Of course I did want to hear ‘ I am sorry and I shouldn’t have behaved like that’ or ‘I won’t treat you like this again’ and ‘How can I make it up to you?’, but I didn’t need to hear any of it, in order for me to make a decision about my relationship.

For those of you who have the opposite experience of someone who apologizes all the time only to carry on hurting you time and time again, remember that ‘sorry’ can be the last thing they say before you walk away.

‘Tear out arrogance and seed humility. Exchange love for hate — thereby, making the present comfortable and the future promising.’ – Maya Angelou                          

As I learned how to define my boundaries, and to hold others accountable (myself included) I realized that it was also important to maintain a sense of serenity whenever I was offended. For me, a peaceful soul keeps me joyful and positive whatever my circumstances.

Whether intentionally or unintentionally, people do act thoughtlessly and cause harm. But a heartfelt apology from a place of love can heal the deepest wounds. Sometimes a simple ‘Sorry’ is enough, but you may require something more. Sincere remorse and a willingness to make amends are all steps to restoring trust and love.

Whatever is spoken or promised however, what really matters is how the person behaves afterwards. When it comes to apologizing, actions do speak louder than words.

‘Write injuries in sand, kindnesses in marble’ – French proverb

I love the gentleness of that statement and the sentiment of remembering the positive rather than the negative is how I would like others to view me. Nobody is perfect and when I mess up and say things I regret, I want to be able to say sorry and for my mistakes to be forgotten and forgiven.

Mariana Stauffer

When I say sorry it means I’m not perfect, and that’s okay. It means I didn’t intentionally want to cause offense and I want to make amends. It means I am hurting as much as you. and I don’t want either of us to feel that way again.

When I say ‘Sorry’ I mean it. Do you?

Huge thanks to Marianna Stauffer for allowing me to use her wonderful and inspiring artwork  (May not be reproduced in any form without her permission.) Take a look at her other work here:

38 thoughts on “Sorry.

  1. Admitting you were wrong gets you much more respect than pretending you are right.(internet). All my life, i’ve been waiting for my parents to apologize.After hitting me.After they humiliated me. After they told me i was free to live and showed me the door. After they yelled so hard i had to cover my ears.After seeing them drunk.After sending me to buy alcohol when i was a child.But they never apologized, and now I know why. Because they were never sorry.

    • What a terrifying childhood you had Laura. Nothing excuses that sort of behavior to a child and no words can take away what they did to you. Acceptance is a huge step in the path to healing. As awful as it sounds, you may never get the sorry you deserve. Maybe they were never sorry because they themselves have to take responsibility for their actions. From what you describe that seems unlikely. So your move forward is to accept that they were in the wrong, that you never deserved any of it, that you can’t change it. And think about what them saying the words ‘sorry’ would actually mean. It would be good to hear but have they changed at all? Would it be a step to restoring your relationship? Or perhaps it would be a closure. But you can close that part of your life without them. You can choose to be kind to yourself without them. You can start from today and decide it’s going to be different from now on. You don’t need their permission or their acknowledgement. You are good enough and you always were 🙂

      • I’m 33 now.33 years of my life no one cared about how my parents treated me. I had 2 choices:keep silent or speak and be blamed. Only recently i searched the internet and i discovered that they were the problem and that i had been abused. Adulthood brought me freedom, but my childhood is lost forever.Your words are healing and for that I am trully grateful.

  2. I found you again. It was time for my old blog to go into the cyber ether. Yesthistoowillpass. is my new one. I hope you can join me in my journey to enlightenment or someplace close:)

  3. When I say sorry, I mean it. I also always forgive even before the other person apologizes, but my problem is in believing that the other person forgave me.

    • I totally understand what you are saying her Nikky. When you say sorry and mean it, there is the expectation that the other person will accept it and not then bear a grudge or bring it up again in the future. It is up to them though to move on, and if they either won’t or can’t then that is an issue for them. You have played your part and it is up to them to do the same.
      Great to see you here.

  4. WoW!. I am working through a course on abuse, and it’s been eye opening. For me, I’m learning to have healthy boundaries with myself and others. More than anything I’m learning to be honest about that pain which isn’t easy. Being brutally honest takes courage, but thank God for a community of friends to walk with me, not judge, and hold me hand when I fall.

    • It sounds like you are surrounded by good people Marvia and that is so important when we are working through issues and being honest with ourselves and others. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Carolyn, as always, your posts “hit home” and there is such a raw honesty about them that I never tire of reading. I love my “time out” reading your blog. Thank you for yet another brilliant post! x

  6. I sent an email to someone recently, a good friend. She responded. I felt her response diminished me in some way and felt hurt. I allowed something snarky into my response. (No, I didn’t question or confront as I could have; maybe because I was so surprised, I acted hurt, which I was.) She picked up the phone immediately and said, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t intend to anger you or upset you. Maybe I said that wrong. Let’s talk this out …” We discussed it and put it to rest. As I read your article, Carolyn, I realized that–whether the offense or injury is intentional or not–by taking responsibility for triggering the incident immediately did not allow it to fester one more minute. That’s when “sorry” can be so powerful …

    • What a brilliant example of the power of ‘Sorry’. It shows that sometimes we can assume that someone intended to offend us, but in reality that wasn’t their intention at all. Thankfully your friend realised that she had caused offense and a quick apology put everything right. So often we let this fester and grow and a relationship is damaged unnecessarily. Thank you so much for sharing this Sharon.

  7. Admitting weakness and failure makes us vulnerable… maybe that’s why it’s hard. I do mean it when I say I’m sorry… I’ve also discovered that it helps to also identify the pain I’ve inflicted, validating and supporting the person I’ve offended. When another person does that for me, I feel my heart heal… so I try to do it for others. We’re human… sometimes we hurt each other unintentionally! So it’s good to work through the “sorry” issues… good words, Carolyn, as always!

    • Thank you for sharing your wisdom too Susan. You’re so right in that it’s not just about saying the words, it’s about acknowledging the pain and doing what it takes to make amends.

  8. Thankyou for a great post. Timely for me. I was considering making amends to my partner for trying to make him jealous. Reading your post made me realise the most sincere part in “SORRY” comes after, when I make a conscious decision by not repeating the behavior. Which, incidently stems from low self confidence and low self esteem.

    • You know what you have to do to make amends, and if it is genuine then your partner will feel that you are truly sorry and can start to begin the process of trusting you again. And you realise that to avoid repeating the same behaviour you have to look at both your low self-confidence and self-esteem. You are responsible for how you feel inside and when you start to work on loving yourself and building up your self-worth, you will stop looking to others to make you happy. When you feel positive about who you are, the need to make someone jealous will fall off your radar because you will be content whether you are on your own or whether you are with someone.
      Bear in mind too, that from your partners point of view it can be hard work to constantly have to meet the needs of someone who is insecure. They may feel like whatever they do it won’t be enough. And if it’s more of a situation where they seem to busy living their own life and aren’t paying you enough attention, it’s unlikely they are going to change.
      I do wish you all the best and hope that with the insight you have you find your happiness. x

  9. One of my favourites, Carolyn. I love this. Absolutely true in my case – how many times could I say sorry and not mean it any more? The shine wears off quickly, especially when you may mean it in the heat of the moment, then selfishly and conveniently forget about it later. My alcoholism kept me in the ‘sorry’ s and didn’t allow for any true mending of fences. That came later for me in the amends process in the step work. That is where I learned the difference between an apology and an amend. Actions speak louder than words, and when I say I am not going to do X,Y,Z again, I make sure that I don’t. Amending is about changing my behaviour, and not about empty words. I have used up my empty words for this lifetime…although I do slip now and then 🙂 But it’s progress, not perfection, as they say, and I have to see that I play a part in these things.

    Like you, when I say sorry now, it’s heartfelt – whether I have accidentally bumped someone on a crowded subway, or I have messed something up at work. I get to build character and resilience (and empathy) when I take full responsibility for my actions. It leaves a clean slate…and a chance to mop up another mess 🙂

    Beatiful post, my friend 🙂


    • When I look back at my days of addiction Paul, one of the things that grieved me the most was the amount of times I had to apologize. Especially in those days when drink had got it’s hold on me, but I hadn’t got to the point of understanding that I was dependent, I would keep repeating the same behaviour. And no matter how hard I tried I still ended up drunk at the end of the day. Like you, I spoke many empty words, but now I am in recovery I can do my best to make my words meaningful. And like you, the biggest change was in my behaviour.
      And isn’t it great that today when we mess up, it’s okay 🙂
      Lovely to see you here Paul 🙂

  10. As always, a powerful reflection here Carolyn. I am struggling with the past and the sorries and feeling unsure if I want to allow someone the chance to prove that he is sorry and has changed. As always the trouble is that he is neither all good nor all bad and I feel paralyzed by indecision of whether I want to allow us the opportunity to maybe move forward or maybe end up right back here again. “Sorry” can sometimes become a torturous uncertainty.

    • It is so difficult to know what to do when the person you love keeps saying sorry and you move on a little bit only to find that you have gone back to square one. That uncertainty is as you say torturous, because just when you think you’re on the right track and things are looking up – Wham – it’s happened again.
      Some questions to think about would be -Is there genuine sign of remorse? Do they take responsibility or is the blame laid at your door? Has there been change? Would some sort of couples counselling help? What do you want? What are your boundaries and are you sticking to them?
      Only you know deep down what the answer to those questions, but remember that your decision is not dependent on their actions.
      Wishing you all the best. xx

  11. Apologizing is a simple expression of contrition that has great power to heal one’s soul, another’s or our own…. we could heal the world, if we only knew the power of admitting our wrongs and taking responsibility for our actions.

  12. “It means I am hurting as much as you. and I don’t want either of us to feel that way again.”

    Carolyn, I agree with your way to define the word “sorry.” It’s simple, it can heal both our hearts, and it can restart our relationship in kindness, rather than in condemnation.

    • I know exactly what you mean Kimberly. That sort of a sorry is a threat not an apology. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I’m sure others will be able to relate to them.

  13. boy are u ever so right bout so many things here, to bad some don’t have the courage to say they are sorry ever , for “they are never wrong” 😦 so sad but so very true 😦 namaste 2 U frum Q

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