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Thursday, 13 January 2011

"How Long Does Sorry Really Last?

Is it tattooed upon your heart?"***

Or does it expire once it has entered your ears?

Elton John once sang about "sorry", he claimed that it was the "hardest word", but I beg to differ.

"Sorry" is incredibly easy to say. We say it all the time, and often quite needlessly. It has crept in the English language as an alternative for "pardon", what is wrong with "pardon"? Although a quick delve into "Collins English Dictionary" informs me that "pardon vb (tr)  1 to excuse or forgive (a person) for (an offence, mistake, etc): to pardon someone: to pardon a fault" so do we say "pardon" in forgiveness for the person we didn't quite hear? "Oh, I forgive you for mumbling into your beard, please repeat your self". Actually, "sorry I didn't quite catch that as you were mumbling into your beard, please repeat yourself" fits much more comfortably than "pardon".

Sorry,I think I am beginning to digress....

Begging your pardon, I will return to the word in hand....:"sorry".

It is an apology, a form of condolence and a word suggesting pity.

It is the apology I am interested in.

Daisy doesn't get "sorry". She says it, but I think she has no real idea what it means any more than I understand Quantum Physics. I know the words, but they have no real meaning to me, on the face of it, they are incomprehensible.

Daisy is the same. She will apologise, but 9 times out of 10 she will have to prompted and reminded that what she did was wrong and an apology is necessary. The word is meaningless to her.

When she has a violent and abusive "melt-down", she has absolutely NO idea what has happened and what she has done. If she sees the bruises and scratches, she will ask me how I hurt myself. It's as if she has some kind of mental shutdown or blackout. I no longer expect remorse or regret, they are emotions that are currently alien to her. Emotions can't be learnt, you can learn how to deal with them but you can't acquire them through study or from a book.

I don't even know if I want her to apologise. Is it right to even expect an apology for an act that is committed under the fog of fear and rage and anxiety? She is autistic, I think it comes with the territory. She doesn't operate out of spite, she doesn't understand that either she is just near-terminally frustrated. She doesn't possess the bit that controls, well, self-control. Her emotions are completely uncontrollable. Maybe we can learn together how to corral them into something a little less explosive and a lot less painful, but with a child who is approximately half her true emotional age, it is a struggle! I am currently dealing with a child with an emotional age of 4 and a bit. It's challenging, to say the least. Especially when you know that Daisy is very, very smart and it is easy to forget her emotional age when she is advanced in so many other areas of her development.

But I think "sorry" has become a sticking plaster...a bit of a cop-out. It's almost a non-word. Like "nice" before it, it's in grave danger of becoming a nonentity. it is losing it's meaning. 
For me to say "sorry" I have to have the associated feelings, at least the feelings I personally associate with the word "sorry". I know when I have made a mistake, that I need to apologise, with feeling. I have to feel and the recipient of my apology has to feel it too. I have to apologise and then explain why! Otherwise it's just words. Empty words that mean nothing, and you know you simply just know that you are going to hear "sorry" again for the same set of reasons. With added hurt. If you are truly sorry then why would you go off and do the same thing again? Because you don't care enough about the person you are hurting. Where is the remorse? The regret? How can you do something that you know is going to hurt someone innocent? Because you can simply apply the band aid marked "sorry" and expect everything to just sail on as normal. Because you are selfish and think only of things from your perspective and not anyone that is going to get hurt in the process. But to me, it means nothing if the feelings behind it are not genuine.

Maybe Daisy and me are on the opposite ends of our own spectrum. She doesn't understand the sentiment of "sorry" and I am a sentimental apologist of Olympic standard!

So, to answer the original question.....for me, sorry lasts forever. MY sorries last forever. If I make a mistake and need to apologise then I do, and I am a wreck until I get the "sorry" said and out into the open. If I make the same mistake again, then I am distraught until I can apologise. That is not to say that I beg forgiveness, for I don't. For me, the apology is enough, I have said it and felt it, it fits within the confines of the Golden Rule (it happened; it passed; move on) and that is that.

if anyone ever wants to drive me crazy? Make it so I can't apologise....I'll be a drooling wreck in days!

***More pilfering, this time from Heaton/Rotheray of The Beautiful South with "How Long's A Tear take To Dry?"


  1. Interesting post, my youngest says sorry all the time because he knows he should, not because he really means it and I am trying to break the habit and teach him only to say it if he really means it, but he has only just turned 4 and this is part of his maturity, My elodest though is a little like Daisy, he is 7 and he says sorry but from 'learned' behaviour, he knows he has to say it as he has been told so many times due to his behaviour that it pops out immediately in a monotone, but he has no idea why he is saying it. Jude does say is alot but he knows the meaning and even at 4 has worked out most people will go, thats OK so its become all too easy for Jude. I agree it should only be said if you truely mean it, but how to educate Isaac in that is another matter!

  2. You know, I am not autistic but I find myself saying 'sorry' all the time in my relationships. Often people say 'what are you apologizing for' and I don't always know my answer, except that at some point in my life, I learned that issues were usually my fault. Thanks for the great post!