The Only Real Way to Apologize

Before we dive into this blog post, I want to provide a quick update. I just had my last electroconvulsive treatment (hopefully!), and I’m now in the recovery stage. Things are going to be rocky for a while – at least two months, maybe longer, because that’s the average time it takes for ECT patients’ brains to re-solidify, figuratively speaking. Until then, writing is going to be difficult for me, so please bear with me while my updates are short and maybe even absent from their regularly scheduled posting times. Thanks guys. -Z

The other day I ran across a beautiful quote that went something like this:

“The only real way to apologize

Is to change your behavior.”

And that struck me in the heart more thoroughly than I thought any 11 words had the business of striking me.

When I was a little kid, my mom used to tell me that if I really want to say “I’m sorry”, I have to try not to repeat the behavior I’m apologizing for. In that sense, the word sorry is a promise. Not only does it imply repentance for a past mistake, it also pledges your determination to not mess up again.

So, with that in mind, I grew up thinking that just saying the words isn’t enough; you have to show your regret through your conscious commitment to do better next time. Otherwise, what good is it to say “I’m sorry”? The phrase turns into a hollow promise if you continue to perform the offensive action. In fact, that action becomes even more offensive after you’ve apologized for doing it, because now you know that what you’re doing is causing someone else pain, but you choose to do it anyway.

If you’ve been on the innocent side of this scenario, you know how hard it is to be hurt by someone after they’ve already apologized for doing the very thing that’s hurting you. If you’re on the offensive end, however, it bears repeating: an apology is a promise to change your behavior.

Otherwise, the words are just an empty promise, and that hurts just as much as whatever you’re apologizing for.

4 thoughts on “The Only Real Way to Apologize

  1. While my initial interest in your blog was from the perspetive of my own personal mental health problems, I ended up discovering a very talented writer with many interesting stories to share with us. While my interest in your struggles with BPD has not diminished, today is the quality of your writing that brings me here everytime you post something new, more than the subject of your blog because Zoe, you are an exceptional writer and an extremely intelligent young woman!


      1. Hi Zoe, I can’t deny that I feel honoured by any reply that I get from you. Following your blog I am totally aware of the intellectual calibre of your talent. There is a lot of weight and coherence in your writting. Your posts are articulated by your deep, visceral honesty. You were destin for this. Please never stop writting because very few people can express mental suffering the way you can. I am also aware that you are under treatment these days and that the results of your ECT sessions are promising. I wish you good luck with your new treatment, but regardless of the results, please don’t neglect this blog, one of the best on the whole internet on this subject, because Zoe, you have the power to help other people in need just with the power of your words.


      2. Thank you. I feel so grateful that you like what I do, because it’s my passion. I promise not to neglect this blog much longer. I think about it constantly, but as you said, recovery from ECT is tough, and my living situation isn’t ideal right now, so writing has been difficult. But I’m moving in a few days, and then I should (hopefully!) be able to get back to it. I promise. 🙂


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