SORRY SEEMS TO BE THE HARDEST WORD
In 1976 Elton John had a hit with ‘Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word’, a poignant song of lost love and opportunity reflecting a problem that confronts many of us. Many of us have a fierce inner resistance to admitting fault and saying sorry. For many of us, we’d rather be right than happy.
The song certainly resonated with me. I was 33 years old and in an unhappy marriage that stumbled between acrimony and resentment. I was very big on self-righteousness.
Was I ever in the wrong when the relationship regularly erupted? Never! Did I ever take responsibility for my vitriolic tongue lashings and moody outbursts? Never, ever – not once!
To my wife’s credit, the flames of her fiery Eastern European temper invariably burnt out rapidly and she would always be the first to say ‘sorry’, while yours truly took the holier-than-thou position of the wronged innocent victim.
36 years later I still struggle with the ‘sorry’ word, even though I always feel released and liberated whenever I admit I am wrong and have the courage to say it. My resistance revolves around my precious ego – an ego that strongly believes to say sorry is an admission of personal weakness. Therefore, to protect my flaky self-esteem, I am urged by that saboteur in my mind to commit perjury and defend the indefensible.
But at what cost?
Yes, my inflato-self puffs up for a little while, like Toad of Toad Hall, having seemingly won the battle. However, another part of my mind always catches up with me, reminding me of my blatant denial of the truth. While I think I might have fooled others, I know I haven’t fooled myself and, as a result, guilt kicks in and my false self-esteem is blown out of the water.
I hope before I leave the planet, I’ll learn to grow up and face my responsibilities responsibly.
When ‘Sorry’ becomes the easiest word for me to say, perhaps then I’ll be able to look at the face in the mirror and say, “Well done. I think you’re going to make it”.