Jane The Virgin Reminded Me Of Something
It's okay to not accept an apology.
[Spoilers for this week's episode].
I finally caught up with Jane the Virgin and this week's episode really hit me. It starts out pretty fun (like always). Jane and Michael are less than thrilled about their respective bachelorette and bachelor parties, but they rely on each other for support. There's definitely some foreboding the entire night though. Jane's mom Xiomara gets pretty drunk and keeps causing trouble for Jane, almost getting her fired TWICE and getting too messed up to help Jane solve the problem. It's a nightmare.
Xiomara apologizes the next day. And Jane draws the line. Xiomara keeps making the same mistake.
Her behavior is immature and out of control, and it's been causing real problems for her daughter. Jane loves her, but that kind of behavior is not acceptable. And while it's obvious that Xiomara feels bad, she's giving the same apology she's made in the past, and hasn't actually changed her behavior or taken the steps she needs to avoid causing these kinds of problems. Jane can't accept that, and I really respect her for it. It's okay to say no.
I have this very vivid memory of being a little girl on the playground, upset because another student had grabbed me and broken my bracelet in the process. I went to the teacher, and she made him apologize. Then she turned to me and said: "Now you have to accept." And I didn't want to. He didn't care that I was upset, I knew he was only apologizing because he'd been made to. There was no guarantee he wouldn't grab me again, either. I didn't want to accept his apology. And shouldn't have had to. Apologies are only meaningful if they're followed by real change.
Even if you're really sorry for hurting someone, if you're just going to do it again your apology doesn't mean anything. If your apology is about absolving your guilt instead of about reconciling how you've hurt someone else, your apology doesn't really matter. An apology shouldn't be about you or how you feel. It should be about the person that you've hurt through your words or actions.
And the truth is, even if you do change, people are still entitled to not accept your apology.
If you hurt someone badly, you break their trust. It's up to them to decide whether or not to trust you again. You're not owed it because you're changing because you can't fix the past or undo what you did. And even though that sucks, you need to respect their decision. I don't think this is something we hear often enough.
We're often told to 'be the bigger person' and to not hold a grudge, and while those things are admirable and important, I don't want to be a doormat. I don't want to be someone that people can mistreat over and over again. When I apologize to someone, I mean it. I recognize what I've done and I change my behavior so I'm not hurtful again. And if the person I've hurt doesn't want to be in my life anymore, I need to accept that. And I need to start expecting that from the people that hurt me, too.