We accidentally wake up the kids in the middle of the night on a regular basis, putting laundry back in their drawers or checking on them. Usually they roll over and go back to sleep, but every once in a while, we hit their sleep cycle at the wrong moment and they sit up in bed, wide awake. This happened last week to the ChickieNob, and she informed us in the morning that she needed to snap at us because she was overtired.
We apologized and she forgave us, but she kept bringing up the fact that she was overtired and it was our fault. When Josh pointed out that she had already accepted the apology, she said, “I accepted the apology. That doesn’t mean it de-faults you from what you did. You still woke me up in the middle of the night. I’m still tired in the morning. And it’s still your fault.”
I don’t know why, but I thought about this all day because granting forgiveness doesn’t really let the other person off the hook. Forgiveness is just acknowledging that you heard them and believe them when they express their regret. It doesn’t mean, as the ChickieNob stated, they are absolved of blame. They still committed the action, the end result is exactly the same. Apologies don’t erase; they just move things forward.
Plus apologies may come before the other person is ready to stop discussing their feelings. Clearly she was willing to accept our quickly given apology, but she still wanted to vent the rest of her frustrations over the situation. Just because we were ready to apologize and she was ready to accept that apology didn’t mean that she was also ready to stop feeling whatever she needed to feel about having her sleep interrupted.
I don’t know — it just was sort of a brilliant revelation for me. Both the fact that apology does not equal absolution on all fronts, just some, and that the timing of an apology doesn’t knock the possibility of more discussion on the subject. If not, after all, a person could apologize quickly just to get past the discussion part where the real work of acceptance is done.
Plus I liked the word “de-faulted.” You can’t un-fault yourself, can you?