I had to apologize to my mom today. I called her up to deliver my apology, so naturally, she answered on speaker phone. Fortunately, it was because she was on her hands-free set in the car. (Begin PSA: Cellphone use without a hands-free device of some kind will get you stopped and ticketed in Washington state! End PSA.)
Mom and my sister had some concerns about my health. I'd made light of them, but asked my doctor about their specific issue just the same. Why leave any base not covered, right? The doctor assured me there was nothing at all to worry about. Yay. But still. I'd realized that I maybe hadn't handled my family's concerns gracefully. Thus the phone call. I made my apology.
Mom said, "Eh, I didn't feel blown off. If I had I would have told you. We're family. We shouldn't have to worry about how you or I interprets what the other says."
I can see the point. But I think it's precisely because we are family - and I value both of my parents and the relationship I have with each of them - that it's vital to make apologies when I've been callous about their feelings. The death of any given relationship rarely comes from one major injury. It comes from a thousand tiny cuts that aren't bandaged with a simple 'I'm sorry'.
It's so easy to take family for grated and assume that apologies aren't necessary. It seems really twisted to me that it's often easier to apologize to a stranger than to a loved one. Or is that just me?
Maybe it's harder to apologize to someone I care about because I already feel small for having hurt whoever it was. If the person is REALLY mad or upset, I'll feel even worse. There are huge (possibly selfish) emotional stakes in procuring forgiveness. And what if you don't? What then? I totally get not approaching someone I care about to apologize. It feels so like I'm yanking the scab off of a wound that may make me bleed out. Yet if I don't, the fact that I've potentially been a jerk to someone I love spins round and round in my head, feeding the 'you're worthless' voices that occasionally pop up.
This is where being socially awkward is like the internet. On the internet, you don't feed the trolls. When you're socially awkward, you don't feed The Voices. They have enough fuel already, thanks.