I saw this quote online and knew it would be my photo for this Blog. When it comes to apologies and making amends I take it seriously and feel it deeply. So let me get my bluntness out of the way first……If you find yourself apologizing for the same thing over and over again STOP IT say what you mean and mean what you say! If you are genuinely sorry then change your behaviors and stop causing hurt to another person! If you are making a living amends to someone then make sure you don’t continue to hurt them in the process with old behaviors and then wonder why they don’t trust you, are upset, or sad. This topic has been on my mind a lot the past few years and recently it seems to be talked about a lot. I feel there is a big difference in an apology and an amends. However, that being said I don’t feel you can make an amends without first apologizing.
When my husband was drinking the cycle would look something like this “I am so sorry I said all those hurtful things to you, it will never happen again”, or “I promise I will control my drinking”. You can guarantee that those words never stayed true for very long. Of course when you throw alcoholism into the mix everything is a huge mess. The problem with constantly apologizing and not following through is that’s like your giving your word and then taking it back. It causes more pain for the other person. Really it’s like a wound never healing, you keep ripping it open time and time again why would anyone want to do that to someone they love?
My husbands behavior for the 12 1/2 years he actively drank and first year of sobriety for a total of 13 1/2 years caused serious emotional damage for me and it was going to take a hell of a lot more than an apology to even begin to heal or repair. The last bit of heart ache was when he confessed to being unfaithful, for me that was the end of the line there had to be a change, I couldn’t go on living that way anymore, that about killed me (literally)! I had to do my own soul searching and found that I could give him complete forgiveness even if I wasn’t healed and felt broken inside. That was the only way I could free myself from the emotional prison I had allowed his alcoholism to put me in. You can rebuild trust in someone if they are committed to proving themselves to you. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting but it doesn’t mean you live there either. Healing can be a lifelong process but it does get better.
My husband did apologize, admitted his mistakes and took full accountability for all the pain he caused for so many years. That was a start. When you grow enough to put yourself aside for the sake of another human being to want to help heal their pain you know your on the right path. I had a serious lack of trust in him already but when I learned about the betrayal there was not a shred of trust left for him. Several weeks after this he wanted to prove he was different and could change, to be that man that he always wanted to be. One that could be trusted, honest, selfless, loving, compassionate, & giving. Honestly I didn’t know if I could ever trust him again the way that a wife should trust her husband. I desperately wanted too but the pain & doubt ran so deep in my heart & soul I wasn’t sure I would ever be OK. I wanted to try, I wasn’t giving up but I was very cautious.
For me I was going to need a lifelong living amends from my husband to see everyday that his actions matched his words. That meant that I would need my husband to spend everyday for the rest of our lives being better than he was the day before. (That isn’t to say that we don’t stumble and make mistakes along the way) and he had to do it for himself, But To be mindful of his behaviors and his words and put them into action for me to see was what needed to change for us. (You don’t have to be an alcoholic to need to make amends to someone, this goes for everyone). In the beginning he did a great job at being very aware and righting a wrong quickly. If I had a bad day with haunting past thoughts we would talk about it and work through it together. I began to feel like I could trust him and believe in his words. Then my husband started slipping a bit by becoming verbally abusive at times in a disagreement or saying things knowing they would hurt me but saying them anyway. You see that is the thing about words once said no matter how sorry you may be you can’t ever not hear those words and the pain from it doesn’t magically go away.
When you make your amends to someone you must stay true to those changes. A simple apology wouldn’t suffice in this situation. It has to be an everyday conscious effort to do things differently. I will be honest, sometimes I still have a really bad day and I can’t control my emotions and the pain I feel is very real and what I need in that moment is for my husband to be that changed man who understands that we all have struggles. Triggers bring up feelings for people all the time and we can’t stop it, we just have to ride it out. I feel like the universe in those moments is trying to tell us something and we must listen and learn from it. What I have learned and continue to learn is some things you never completely get over and some days a trigger may cause you to be more sensitive and emotionally reactive than others. It is normal, and I for one need my husband to not call me names, to not be defensive, to not be angry, because I wouldn’t have these issues in the first place if he didn’t make the poor past choices he did when he was struggling deeply with his alcoholism.
A living amends to me means to be aware of your words and reactions to the people you have hurt. Sometimes you may feel like your being attacked but remember what is really happening is the other person is feeling such a deep pain that it scares them, it brings their heart back into that moment where they don’t feel safe and the hurt is real. They aren’t attacking you they are really reaching to find a safe place and sometimes in your words, touch, or actions is where they find it. When you are unreactive in situations like these and you practice your empathy & support then you are giving selflessly to someone you love and I can say confidently that the outcome will be a pleasant one because you remained calm.
Nobody wants to live in the past or remember awful things like an infidelity but some behaviors or situations can cause a trigger. The most positive way you can make an amends when this happens is shut up and listen, take your selfishness out of it, it isn’t about you it is about the other person and what they are feeling in that given moment. If they are trusting you enough to come to you then feel honored and do all you can for them. When you love someone you don’t leave their heart to heal alone you help them heal with your love. When someone is falling apart in front of you don’t tear them apart even more, that is not making an amends and working your recovery program, you don’t cause more harm to another person!
I believe as a married couple that person is the ultimate devoted love you have in your life. You want the best for one another and I certainly don’t want to see my spouse hurting and if I caused any pain for him then I need to do all I can to help heal and make it better. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, Be honest and real with yourself and with others & if you find your old ways creeping in or you catch yourself being cruel STOP IT! Forgiveness & Love are two amazing tools that are not used often enough. As Ellen always says……….. “Be Kind To One Another” I feel like if you follow that everyday your life will blossom in so many ways the possibilities are endless!
Wishing you Peace & Serenity………….Harmony