Things We Don't Apologize For: Giving our all in a relationship

Yesterday: Never apologize for using proper English. Keeping it real doesn't mean speaking Ebonics.
Today: Never apologize for giving your best in a relationship that just didn't work out.

Man oh man oh man oh man. In a lot of ways, I'm more than prepared to discuss this one from my own experiences, but in a lot of ways, I'm not. I need to continue to take this one to heart and really put it into practice.

We have to be careful about how we define apologizing. It's not just saying you're "sorry," it's making excuses for your actions or choices. It's altering what you say or what you do because of what other people will say or do in response. It's being anything other than your authentic self.

When it came to my relationship with J, I did all of the above plus some, especially when it was over. I even did it here on this blog. Carey did a post a few days ago titled "If You Were My Girlfriend...Again" He asked the question:
If you could go back [to an old relationship], what would you change about yourself?!
Answering Carey's question reminded me of a conversation J and I had when he asked me if I would ever look back on our relationship and see good. I told him "no" and though I've long-since changed my mind, I never told him that.

The reason I never told him is because I was spending far too much time apologizing for changing my mind. I don't think I realized the extent to which I did that until I was talking to a friend who was trying to explain to me why she was afraid to tell me some things she had recently done. She told me it was because I had been able to drop J so effortlessly. She told me that it was like I decided it was a bad thing and was done with it just as quickly. I had to remind her of the circumstances surrounding the demise of my relationship and that I didn't really do it by choice. "Sure," she said, "but once you were done, you were done."

I thought about it and realized I had to come clean. I talked a good game to my friends because I knew what I was "supposed" to say, but I wasn't being fully honest. Instead of using words reflecting how I actually felt I was using words that I wished accurately described how I felt. This was something I had done throughout my relationship with J. I was apologizing to my friends for giving my all in a relationship they neither understood nor agreed with. They had a right to feel the way they did as people who cared about me, but I had a right to pursue something with as much fervor as possible (and to expect them to support that).

Just recently some of these lessons came back around in the form of another friend struggling with the fact that none of her friends liked her boyfriend. I've mentioned her before, but in the most recent conversation we had about him, I told her:
If you want to get back with him, I support that. You have to keep in mind that the only thing your friends will ever know about him are the things you tell us and the only things you tell us are the bad things. That's human nature to want to vent to your friends. But when we give you advice about your relationship you have to keep in mind that we only know half of the story. Ultimately you have to make the decisions that are best for you and as much as we love you, we don't always know...
In thinking about it, when she quit talking to me about him she was apologizing for the relationship. When she made excuses and whenever she felt like she had to justify staying with him, she was apologizing. I shouldn't have put her in that position just like I shouldn't have been put in that position (and, ironically, she was one of the ones I was apologizing to).

Spending your time apologizing for giving your all in a relationship that didn't work out takes away from spending time learning the lessons from that relationship and being better for the next one. There's nothing wrong with running full steam ahead until you have a reason to stop. Your friends can be a good way to see the warning signs before you run head-first into them, but don't let your friends stop you from being sure. In other words -- slow down but don't stop until you're ready to stop. Be prepared to consider the things they say but don't let what they say be the only reason. End the relationship or walk away because you're ready to and because you understand the lesson. People can't have your "a-ha" moment for you.

Rihanna just took time to apologize, to millions of people she'll never know, for giving her all . She did the right thing by leaving Chris, but I hope (yet doubt) she did it because she was ready to go; because she understands that a man putting his hands on you is unacceptable; because inside she was truly ready to be done with it. If she didn't, she'll easily end up in another situation just like it. I still hope, though, that in her time away from him she'll grasp the severity and "get it" that way.

I think that's the point of it all. All of these things you shouldn't apologize for because that's you not focusing on you. Instead, by apologizing, you're making things that affect you about the people around you when they are not. Apologizing for doing what makes you happy is about assuaging the insecurities of others; apologizing for speaking proper English is about comforting people who may be jealous of your abilities; apologizing for giving your all in a relationship that just didn't work out is about letting everyone around you learn the lesson before you do. It doesn't work and it is not healthy.

Monday: Never apologize for being successful. Only haters want to keep you at their level.


Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

The point you made to your girl friend about you and her other friends only being able to give her advice about her boyfriend based on what she has revealed was simply excellent, as was the rest of this post.

A.Smith said...

Thank you very much, Kit.

And thanks for reading these. :)

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