“I’m sorry.”

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Archie apologizes to Otto in “A Fish Called Wanda”

“I offer a complete and utter retraction. The imputation was totally without basis in fact, and was in no way fair comment, and was motivated purely by malice. And I deeply regret any distress that my comments may have caused you, or your family, and I hereby undertake not to repeat any such slander at any time in the future.”

I do this thing, where I apologize when I don’t need to. It frustrates my husband, who has told me twice in the past week, “Don’t say ‘sorry’ to anybody, you didn’t do anything wrong, you have nothing to be sorry about.”

He’s right. When I do in fact need to be sorry for something, I get this awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. (Our daughter calls it the “tickly tingle feeling.”) When I get it, I can’t make it go away fast enough. I apologize profusely, searching a person’s eyes repeatedly to make sure they have in fact forgiven me. That’s happened once in the past year.

But mostly, my apologies are not necessary. And the past two apologies, the times that irritated my husband, I felt a bit like Archie, compelled to apologize in order to appease a crazy person, figuratively hanging me by my ankles outside a window. Or quite literally, a not crazy but simply immature person, crying in public, telling people she can’t believe people (I) hate her.

It makes me angry, my capitulating, my mitigating, my placating. But I do it. Because sometimes, a situation needs to be neutralized.

The public crier? She’s also responsible for a mistake, a big mistake, that affects a significant number of people. But a decision has been made not to tell her, because… because… she might cry? I’m not sure why. But her mistake was out there, and there was this big void where the words “I’m sorry” should have been. So I filled the void.

I’m a doormat. Or a diplomat. Not sure.

What do you think?

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