The Apology Process

Years ago, when I was released from a relationship that was killing me by the police taking the abuser out of my life, my relationship with my daughters was in shreds.

For the final three months of that journey I cowered in hiding as the abuser tried to find ways to get out of Canada. I was too scared, too lost, too compliant to pick up the phone and let anyone know I was alive. Plus, he’d told me I couldn’t. I did not disobey him.

Healing my relationships, especially with my daughters, took time, and a whole lot of turning up and doing the work.

It was a long road home.

In the beginning, they were angry. They had a right to their anger. The things I’d done throughout that relationship hurt them.

For the sake of all of us, I needed to be strong enough to stand with them in their anger without trying to take it away, push it aside, or manipulate it into something I could tolerate with my insistence, “It wasn’t my fault.”

In the beginning, I was not strong enough to do that. I had to ‘give myself medicine first” so that I could be there to help them find the medicine they needed to heal.

I was willing to accept they might not forgive me. I was not willing to accept that what I had done was a life sentence of misery to which we were all condemned.

It was three years after I began that healing journey that I entered the Choices Seminars training room for the first time.

It changed my life. It changed my daughters’ lives too.

By the time I went through the course, my daughters and I were living together again. I knew they still carried anger, and I was doing my best to simply be present with them when it erupted. But I also knew I wasn’t powerful enough to take away their anger, or their fear of what might happen if the abuser did turn up again.

Choices gave us all the tools to travel those uncharted, and sometimes troubled, waters.

It also gave me The Apology Process.

  • Acknowledge
  • Apologize.
  • Commit.
  • Make amends.

In the months after learning the process, I used it often. I didn’t care if I had to apologize for the rest of my life, I wanted my daughters to know that I was committed to our relationship, committed to being here as their mother, caring, confident, vibrant and alive.

Apologizing never cost me a thing. It gave me everything.

My daughters pain was different than mine. They had a right to express it in their own way, to grow through it and heal from it for themselves.

No matter what that man had done to me, I was the one who did the things I did to harm them.

I was accountable.

The apology process gave me a way to stand in my accountability without having to carry shame, regret, despair.

My job was not to defend against their anger but to love them, and myself, through it.

It was about three years after the three of us had gone through Choices that my eldest daughter told a group of trainees how my apologizing as I did helped fill the river of pain that was once between us with Love. “Every time she said, ‘I apologize’, it felt like a little bit more of the pain washed away leaving room for Love to flow more freely,” she said.

I remember still the moment when she said those words. I started to cry. It felt like a giant boulder of pain had lifted off my heart. I am crying now. Soft, gentle loving tears of gratitude.

It is not unlike these times in which we live right now.

I acknowledge I have seldom questioned the privilege of my white skin. That I have never stopped to say, ‘Hey! This isn’t right! If I can get this so easily why is it so hard for that person over there whose skin colour is different than mine, to experience the same ease?’

I apologize and commit to doing better, to being more awakened, more conscious, more vocal when I encounter racist comments, acts and situations.

To make amends, I shall learn more about white privilege and its impact on people of colour in this world. I shall speak up adding my voice to the voices calling for change. And I shall cede space so voices of colour can be heard.

Namaste

16 thoughts on “The Apology Process”

  1. Louise,
    You have just crafted the foundation of mankind’s credo:
    I shall learn more about white privilege and its impact on people of colour in this world;
    I shall speak up adding my voice to the voices calling for change;
    I shall cede space so voices of colour can be heard; AND
    I shall look to the future for the past is not a good example to adhere to.

    Thank you for showing how to use your past experience to move forward positively, thoughtfully and graciously.
    Namaste my dear Friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to think an apology – deeply felt and expressed accomplished something. Experience has taught me that the words of apology are pale compared to living life differently. People watch us, embrace us, and re-consider us based on what they see rather than what they hear. For example, in recent days we have heard apologies from Stockwell Day and Brett Wilson. Their apologies have been widely covered, but will do little to change how they are seen because of who they are. My point, is that change of who we are, how we live, how we think, and who we treat and respect others is REAL CHANGE whereas publishing some form of polished-up ‘oops-sorry’ just doesn’t cut it.

    You’ve DONE THE WORK, and by that, you earned two things – restored relationships with your daughters and renewed respect for yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for chiming in Mark — for me, the apology must be sincere AND it must also be followed up by action that demonstrates clearly the sincerity of one’s apology – awareness, apology, action — the doing the work.

      Like

  3. Very moving and powerful post today Louise – moved me to tears. Pushing through our struggles changes who we are for the better, makes us stronger and more confident. You went through a very tough period in your life but oh what lessons you have learned from that time. You are such a great example of inspiration and change with the brave choices you had to make. I am sure your daughters must be extremely proud of you and understand now that you were in a situation where you were fearful for your life. I admire your courage and honesty and so happy to know that you are now on the other side. Hope you have forgiven yourself. You are a very special human being.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Val for your beautiful words.

      I had to forgive myself — even when I didn’t want to. To ask my daughters’ for forgiveness and then to say to myself, “I’ll never forgive myself” felt hypocritical and self-defeating. To receive forgiveness I had to believe I was worthy of forgiveness — and that had to begin with me.

      Much love and gratitude to you dear Val. ❤

      Like

  4. It’s a huge credit to you that you worked so hard to mend the broken relationships. It must make them even more special. We had issues with our daughter and now that we’ve worked through them I am so appreciative of where we are.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Bernie. Having spent so much of my life believing I was broken and that the things that happened to me to cause my brokenness were my fault, I did not want my daughters to carry the belief – they were somehow to blame or were in any way unlovable because of what happened to me. It was great motivation to heal in Love.

      I’m glad to hear you have all worked through the issues. Isn’t it wonderful to be in a place where appreciation of where we are colours our world with such joy?! ,3

      Like

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