Learning to apologize is one of the hardest things I have ever done. That kind of vulnerability is terrifying to me. I didn’t grow up seeing apologies as a kindness, or even an uncomfortable but necessary part of life. My unique blend of neuroses saw me grow up with an intense need to prove my worth, to live up to and exceed the expectations of my intelligence, a need to avoid being shamed. I had – and still do have – an intense anxiety surrounding being caught in any social position that could possibly be construed as embarrassing. If you talk around being in the wrong, is it still your responsibility?
Yes. Yes, it is. Loki, with both kindness and stone-cold resolve, showed me this early and often. He proved again and again that apologizing is right, necessary, and makes you a better person. Not in the lofty sense I thought I had to maintain from my stoic’s perch, but a better person to be around and invite into your life. A safe haven, a good friend, listener, child, sibling, parent. I didn’t learn this from my family as much as I learned it from my friends and from my god. Trying to come off as faultless goes well exactly 0% of the time. Everybody is flawed. Everybody is flawed. It’s just a matter of learning how to own this and grow with your loved ones as a result of it.
Loki taught me through myth and through personal circumstance that apologizing and meaning it, working to make things right without covering your shame, being honest about your flaws and limitations, is always, always the right thing to do. It’s hard, and it hurts, sometimes, and it still makes me terribly anxious, and I am always rewarded for doing the right thing. Being a better person than I was before. Learning. It’s a lesson I hope to pass on to the people close to me, especially the children in my life.
So much of Loki’s guidance in my life is centered on growth. You can’t grow if you stagnate. You can’t learn if you don’t admit to what you don’t yet know. Honesty is a vital force. Apologizing when you’re truly in the wrong, even when it makes you squirm, makes your life better, and it makes you a better person to your loved ones. It made me an infinitely better friend to Arron, and later a better spouse. Nobody deserves to be treated badly by somebody refusing to change and take their share of the blame.
The concepts of guilt and laying-blame are often misused to keep people in a state of shame, or over-apolozing. The people who have most often lectured me about this have, ironically, been some of the most arrogant and openly manipulative people I’ve ever known. That isn’t what this post is about. It’s not about self-flagellation. It’s not about blame. It’s just about kindness.