Trauma, crisis, and illness, compounded by the pain, fear, and grief they bring, can lead to a lot of apologies. These apologies can come from all sides for a variety of both valid and less than surefooted reasons.
Survivors, and the people who love and survive with them, apologize.
Back and forth, we apologize:
for being a burden.
for not being able to do more or be more.
for the hurt we are causing
for the hurt we are witnessing.
because we don't know what else to say.
because there are no right words to say.
because we can't be fixed.
because we aren't able to fix someone else.
to avoid truths.
to end debate.
to console each other.
to ease guilt.
as a way to connect.
as a way to escape.
as a way to believe again.
as a way to remove doubt.
It is part of both the genuine and the polite interactions of humanity. It is integral to how we communicate with sincerity or regret. It is vital to our sanity and respect. It is part of how we heal and grow together.
Everyone makes mistakes and during heightened emotional times of crisis even little errors can feel like life-altering events when so much is exposed and at stake. Apologies help. They allow safety and comfort.
We also forgive. It comes with the territory. All sides forgive. We forgive A LOT.
Some of the things we forgive are easy while some are exceedingly not. It is part of loving someone. It is part of surviving together. It's a beautiful and complex thing.
However, in crisis, often our choices are made for us and our hands are forced. Other times, we make our own choices and those choices have an genuine impact. Trauma is traumatic and when grappling with finding or providing hope, fighting through grief or guilt, and providing or seeking sanctuary from the fear, we can find ourselves promising more than we are actually willing to give. We can overreach in trying to lessen our own or another's pain. It can come from a deeply sincere place or a more shallow and casual one. It can be accidental or precisely planned. It can be meant to protect from or prevent more trauma.
We all make choices, but when life closes in too tightly and the dark makes hope fade, sometimes we apologize too much. When overwhelmed and desperate, we can sometimes forgive more as a desperate measure to stay connected then from a contented place of peace and understanding.
Over time, trauma can lessen the power of an apology and taint the ability to forgive. There can be too many apologies which can lead to too little forgiveness.
Hope is beyond fragile during crisis while fear is often truly overbearing in its debilitation. So, we have to be careful with our promises to each other. We have to be sure of our choices before voicing them or acting on them. We have to understand the depth of each other's situations before offering to act on each other's behalf.
We need to respect hope and be aware of hope's boundaries. We need to recognize when it is being struggled with or genuinely fading. We need to offer only the support we are capable of giving and being honest about our own limitations, even as we continue to grapple with them.
Trauma creates an environment for too many choices and too much sorry. Crisis is unforgiving in its very nature. But, it is no excuse for the opportunity of love or compassion missed. Our choices truly matter to each other and we need to be honest enough when we are making them so we do not add to the hurt.
There is more than enough fear and hurt, that we truly need to be tender in our actions as to not inflict more pain in hearts already overwrought with far too much.
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