I remember an episode of Armchair Expert with Dax Sheperd in which a listener called in and described some of the turmoil she caused while she was active in addiction. I believe she had slept with her friends husband, and understandably, that friend no longer wished to be a part of her life.
Dax and listener did a fantastic job of explaining what being in addiction looks like, and how recovery can make you see the choices you made differently.
The listener made this wonderful point that I think of often. Through her AA recovery, one of the steps is making amends. She said she dreaded this step the most because it would require her to face the wreckage she made head on and how that affected the people she loved.
Her sponsor gave her this piece of advice that I carry with me today - "making amends for some people you have hurt is making sure they never hear from you again".
What does that mean to me?
The purpose of making amends in this context is to help other people heal from the harm you caused, and for some people, the most healing thing a perpetrator can do is simply go away.
We often think of amends or apologies as the end all be all - but we never reflect on if it's actually helpful. There are people that we need to face and make amends to, of course, but that doesn't mean it's healing for all. Often times, we apologize to make ourselves feel better and claim it's to help the impacted party. Sometimes the most healing thing we can do is eff off.
Over the last few years, I have thought about this a lot. I, for one, over-romanticized how impactful I thought an apology would be. Often times, when the major damage is done, I don't need an apology, I need forever space.
In the spring, in the advocacy space, certain people were floating in the idea of Restorative Justice - a criminal rehabilitation concept in which perpetrators face their victims, apologize and the victims conveys the harm that was done in hopes of a rehabilitation. To me, that is egregious in the context of sport, in the context of explicit abuse and with the power dynamics in these cases. To me, the people that have harmed me need to eff off. I don't need an apology, I need to never see them again.
Even on a smaller scale, I would urge us all to reflect on the apologies we have made - what percentage was done for their healing, and what percentage was to absolve ourselves of some guilt?
Thoughts to move forward with.