Henry, I called you a clown; I owe an apology to clowns.
Thank you CT and Callaghan for the apology. I knew you had it in you to 'do the right thing'.
You are a great man for doing so. Some people can never apologize. Admission of wrongdoing are incredibly threatening for non-apologists because they have trouble separating their actions from their character. If they did something bad, they must be bad people; if they were neglectful, they must be fundamentally selfish and uncaring; if they were wrong, they must be ignorant or stupid, etc. Therefore, apologies represent a major threat to their basic sense identity and self esteem.
Apologizing might open the door to guilt for most of us, but for non-apologists, it can instead open the door to shame. While guilt makes us feel bad about our actions, shame makes non-apologists feel bad about their selves—who they are—which is what makes shame a far more toxic emotion than guilt. While most of us consider apologies as opportunities to resolve interpersonal conflict, non-apologists may fear their apology will only open the floodgates to further accusations and
conflict. Once they admit to one wrongdoing, surely the other person
will pounce on the opportunity to pile on all the previous offenses for
which they refused to apologize as well.
By refusing to apologize, non-apologists are trying to manage their emotions. They are often comfortable with anger, irritability, and emotional distance, and experience emotional
closeness and vulnerability to be extremely threatening. They fear that
lowering their guard even slightly will make their psychological
defenses crumble and open the floodgates to a well of sadness and
despair that will pour out of them, leaving them powerless to stop it.
They might be correct. However, they are incorrect in assuming
that exhibiting these deep and pent-up emotions (as long as they get
support, love, and caring when they do—which fortunately, is often the
case) will be tramatic and damaging. Opening up in such a way is often incredibly therapeutic
and empowering, and it can lead them to experience far deeper emotional
closeness and trust toward the other person, significantly deepening
their relationship satisfaction.