In the medical field, it is becoming more and more common for doctors to admit fault, apologize and make financial amends to patients they have unintentionally injured or harmed. Through research, risk assessors have determined that this proactive and corrective action decreases the number of patients who bring malpractice claims against physicians and the hospitals in which they serve.
I have learned that what patients wanted the most was acknowledgment for the harm done to them and to, as much as possible, be made whole again physically and emotionally. When doctors, whether by choice or because of limitations placed on them by their facilities’ attorneys, did not freely admit culpability, patients were much more likely to sue (and win) for damages significantly in excess of what they would have initially needed or desired. Beyond that, many patients suffered added emotional injury from the rigors of withstanding a trial.
I think that this idea is fascinating. While the roots may be fiscal in nature, the result was that doctors could openly apologize to their patients. Some of the doctors had been sued in the past and, due to ongoing legal action, could not offer patients the apology they richly needed and deserved, even when they wanted to apologize. Being able to say that they were sorry was as liberating for the doctors themselves as it was healing to their patients.
What if James could do this? Although his injury to me was intentional, what if he could say he’s sorry? That he was wrong, that he inflicted harm and that he will make amends? I have played out, or rather tried to play out, this scenario in my head. And each and every time it doesn’t go past, “he will never apologize.” I can’t conjure up any other ending in my head.
I will never be the person I was before. That has to count for something. There is an apology owed and receiving it could spare me from further pain. I don’t know, though, that sparing me further pain would be compelling enough for James. I don’t think he believes he has done anything wrong. Because if he did, wouldn’t he have already said that he was sorry?
The forgiveness Anne (my EMDR diva) knew I would someday have towards James did arrive. I haven’t written about it at all, mostly because it arrived very quietly. It wasn’t neatly wrapped up in pretty paper, tied with a satin bow and delivered at my doorstep. I believe forgiveness comes with intention and it seeped in gradually.
While there are any number of quotes that say forgiveness is a way of giving yourself an apology you haven’t received, I disagree. It’s part of how I intentionally choose to live my life without hate. It is absolutely through intention that I am able to forgive.
I have to remind myself of the one simple fact, however, that renders an apology impossible. James is a sociopath. He is incapable of so very much.