Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

blogxcatxtreadmillsFor months, I’ve been telling myself, “When I get back from Scotland, I’m hitting the gym.” Toodling around castles and crannogs was fun, but I’m painfully aware that one of the curses of aging is loss of muscle mass. The cause is hormonal, the solution is to use the muscles if I don’t want to lose them.

The conversation with the gym manager went something like this: “So what are your goals, Grace?”

blogxcatxliftingxweightsI don’t set goals. “To get stronger, so I don’t end up going into assisted living twenty years too soon, where I will sit on the throne three times a day calling for help until somebody slouches over to the bathroom to deal with me.”

Blink. “You want to get stronger.”

“Yep.” And I was serious about the assisted living part, but this woman was at least twenty-five years my junior. Mustn’t scare the children.

blogxworkoutxcat“And… what about weight loss?”

“Nope. I’m not here to lose weight.”

She stared at her clipboard as if trying to recall the bonus question from the final in Difficult Clients 101. “Do you want your clothes to be looser?”

“Nope. Strength. That’s what I want. I had it once, I want it back.”

“Well! Strength is a part of any well-rounded fitness program…” And on it went.  I’d timed this get-acquainted session for when the gym was empty, and sure enough, when I embarked on my solo workout, the only other person on the equipment was the cleaning lady, who was goofing around with one of the personal trainers on the machines I wasn’t using. They were having a high old time, giggling, laughing, frolicking in my purgatory.

blogxfeelxthexburnWhen I finished, the cleaning lady (complete with bandana on her cleaning lady hair), asked me, “So how do you feel?”

Persecuted. Hopeless. Exhausted. Resentful. “Like crap.”

She beamed at me. “Like good crap? Like you just kicked it, y’all can’t touch this, good crap?”

“No. I. Feel. Like. Crap. Thank you for asking. I’ll see you Friday.”

After that exchange, I felt worse than crap. She was trying to be kind to a newcomer, and I snarled at her. True to my word, however, I went back Friday, did my circuit, and yes, it was just as un-fun on Friday as it was the first time, and the zillions of other times I’ve done weights. The cleaning lady did not ask me how I felt.

blogxcuteI approached her, though. “I owe you an apology. You asked how I felt last time I was here, and I was rude. I’m sorry.”

She beamed at me, though in a different way. “I’ve heard worse. I wished you a blessing and went about my day.  Don’t worry about it, we all have bad days.”

My body still felt like crap, and I wish, if modern science is going to create little blue pills for amorous old duffers, it would also create a safe, legal, cheap pill for people with slow metabolisms, but apologizing did lift a weight from my heart.

ashton_450x2-450x675I’d done wrong, I was ashamed of myself, and I apologized. Not complicated, but profound. How grateful I am that I could undo some of the emotional stink I’d left in that gym by a few sincere words.

When was the last time you apologized after making a boo-boo? Or maybe somebody surprised you with an apology? Did it help? Makes things worse? Fall flat but at least you tried?

To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of Ashton: Lord of Truth.




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49 comments on “Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

  1. I’ve done my share of apologizing over the years. It usually makes me feel better even of it is not appreciated. At least I know I’ve tried to right a wrong.

    Love the pictures of the kitties exercising – especially the kitties on the treadmills. I had a cat a few years back who thought I hung rolls of TP just so she could have the joy of unrolling them. One of my current cats enjoys attacking the TP. Does the same thing to my white purse. I find myself wondering just what he sees in his mind’s eye when he is attacking these white objects (smile).

    Just downloaded ASHTON and enjoying it,

    • We have cats for libraries and old folks’ homes… why not for the gym? I’d sure enjoy some feline company, but I’m guessing the relentless noise of a gym would drive the cat barmy.

  2. I had to go back for another test at the hospital this week. It was quite upsetting to me and I was very short with my husband. I apologized Immediately. I knew the minute the words were out of my mouth….ack…wish I could have taken them back. Even though my apology was sincere, my actions led to a very quiet evening. And the test was a pre caution and all is well.

    Love your comments about little blue pills for amorous old duffers!!

    Loved ASHTON!! ANd Helen.

    Have a great week.

  3. You need a different gym. It annoys me that getting stronger wasn’t enough of a goal for her. As if,somehow, everyone should want to lose weight and be a size 6. And how is losing weight is a better goal than wanting to get have muscle mass and be able to lift heavy shit. Gym shop. Maybe look for those places that you normally look at and think, “I could never workout there” and go there. Those people may surprise you (or they may be meatheads that send you running).

    I’m a huge believer in fitness community. Years ago when I was doing more traditional style workouts I went with a friend. I need the accountability and I enjoy be with friends. Now my accountability is to my own well being but I still want to be with my friends. Find your community. You may dread the workout but misery loves company and its so much better if the “company” are friends.

    As for today’s theme: I find myself apologizing because I seem to have this tendency to just tell it like it is and this offends some people. I don’t set out to offend but I seem to be good at doing it. Oh, well.

    • Your reaction was kinda like mine. It’s not enough to want to be physically competent, I have to somehow buy into the “Women need to be attractive to justify everything they do” toxicity? So often, I’m tempted to ask people, “Would you say that to a man? Would you ask a man if he wanted his clothes to fit more loosely?”

      I rode horses for years, in part because I love horses, but also because I found a GREAT barn, with wonderful people and shared riding ethic. When the trainer moved south, though, I couldn’t recreate what I needed to stay in the saddle. I’m hoping after a few months at the gym, I’ll be motivated to go barn hunting again. Baby steps…

      And I really appreciate your honesty. You seem to process what’s on the table before you respond to it, you’re not firing from the hip. You’re firing from the heart.

  4. I’m still learning how to apologize. Sometimes the straight forward in my head “I was wrong. I hurt you. I am sorry and will try not to again,” doesn’t come out that way. But it is worth the effort to try and then try again…to communicate. In the past when I’ve said “hey that hurt” and receive a response of some flavor of “your problem you took it that way,” made the original hurt worse…and I don’t want to perpetuate that.

    Some days glad I can keep learning new things and others frustrated it feels like I’m still learning, slowly, how to be a grown up or functional adult. Many times it is fictional folk and their creators showing me the way.

    • Larisa,
      Oh, the fakey-fake apology goes under this category too: I”m sorry you’re so thin-skinned. I’m sorry you didn’t understand me. I’m sorry you took it that way…

      Buncha crap, that. Just taking a you-you-you statement and putting an I’m-sorry lie in front of it. Though I AM sorry your honestly calling BS was met with cowardice on occasion.

      And yes, book friends count for me too. A lot.

  5. I apologized to my choir for having a bad day….during rehearsal (it was this past Tuesday). Usually, rehearsal day is the only one during the whole week I feel like myself. But after being told by another artist what I do is no longer relevant, I felt like crap for several days after. Classical music music is a tough sell, I get that, and my particular situation is a bit high highfalutin,I suppose, but who gets to decide which art form is relevant or not?

    All better now and I’m keeping on keeping on…..but I wish that other artist would apologize!

    • I know that feeling, of something stuck in my craw when I’ve been wronged. Happens a lot in court, but also in life. I’m here to tell you that classical music matters. In the gym, all I hear is thumpa-thumpa crap, but what I wouldn’t give for some fortspinnung Vivaldi or Mannheim School.

      I gave birth to a Brandenburg Concerto, so to speak, and there is no “relevant” music that could possibly have given me as much joy or comfort through that painful and scary week.

      Phooey on the trogs, and maybe they be consigned to a purgatory of noise for their insensitivity.

  6. I was so happy to see the new blog post! I always enjoy reading your thoughts and feelings on here. Welcome back!

    I recently had an experience that played out like a cliche movie script but had a major impact nonetheless. I had an argument with my in-laws and spent about a week basking in my self-righteous anger. Then, I got a call from my mother-in-law that I assumed would be an apology from her, but when I answered the phone, she said that my father-in-law was having emergency triple bypass heart surgery. I had the sickening realization that I could have lost him without apologizing and making peace first, simply because I wanted to be right. In the end, we made peace and my father-in-law is on the road to recovery, but it could easily have ended badly and that is NOT OK with me!

    Good luck with the new gym routine!

    • Yikes. That could have ended a lot of different ways, many of them unhappy. Glad that you as a family got through the knot hole. (But your in-laws were still wrong about that other thing–just sayin’).

  7. Sincere apologies are rare and to me the greatest proof that the human race is not lost, that love is a power not to be underestimated, and that hope is not lost for any of us.

    Sadly, I have been the victim of apolosplain more times than any one should. An apolosplain is where a person pretends that they are apologizing, but really what they are doing is justifying their behavior by explaining why you should not be offended by it. They entire ordeal is insufferable.

    But a true apology. That happened to me once. I woman came up to me and said I am sorry that I offended you. I am sorry that I hurt you. I should not have said those things. Forgive me.

    It was one of the greatest acts of kindness I’ve ever received.

    • It’s a benediction, when somebody says, “That was my fault. You are not crazy. I’m sorry I wronged you. Let’s get past this…”

      And it felt just as good to me to be able to step up and clear the air.

  8. Good for you wanting to get your strength back! I will cheer you quietly from the introverted sidelines.
    I don’t apologize as much as I probably should. I don’t hear many apologies either. But I have a small circle, and we all get along pretty smoothly.

    • It’s interesting to me that we don’t see genuine apology modeled very much in the media. Newspapers print “retractions,” and candidates offer “clarifications,” but nobody apologies when the camera is rolling. Why is that–because the perfect person, who never screws up or missteps, hasn’t been born.

  9. Maybe simply decide what you want to do at the gym and what makes you feel productive and happy and the heck with the rest. I do elliptical and treadmill because I can read (!Grace Burrowes, of course!) and ignore those loud awful pounding music classes.
    Oh gosh, apologizing – I have to do it often. I am so self-righteous and judgmental and I swear I am never going to grow up. I think I’m doing ok and being a good person and then someone does something that makes me mad and off I go, Ms. Know it All!
    I loved Ashton – thank you so much. I just went back and reread Captive, Traitor and Laird – I think I finally “got” them. They seem to be written on a lot of levels, multiple layers. I love that I can (and have to) read your stories several times before I feel I have actually gotten them into my head and heart.

    • Jeanette, I’m the queen of writing vitriolic, articulate, lengthy, brilliant comments on FB… and then deleting them. Sometimes I will even post them for thirty seconds, but I figure if I think I should probably not post them, I shouldn’t post them.
      But it’s hard.

      As for the Captive Hearts, thank you. I was ALL fired up when I wrote those, about some violence being heroic and other violence being invisible, about Penn State’s Sandusky scandal, about the betrayal that so many find immediately behind calls for patriotism. I was on a tear…

      But I like those books. Oddly enough, not a one of them was nominated for any award, and I think they’re among my best.

  10. It is always the little apologies like saying sorry I stepped in front of you or took too much time. Yesterday I said sorry to two people when I accidentally was walking too slow and we exchanged blessings. It made the day brighter. Thank you for blessing me with your books.

    • Amy, what a lovely way to put it, “We exchanged blessings…” I love to write–love it, it’s my happy place, what I was born to do–and that readers enjoy the books is the icing on the cupcake.

  11. I hope everyone has apologized at some time or other – I certainly have (whenever I’ve realized I’ve done something wrong, misspoken, thought maybe I made someone feel bad, or made a mistake). Heartfelt apologies are never misspent – even if the person being given the apology says they didn’t need one, you felt the need to give it. I try not to give those offhand ‘sorrys’ when I don’t really mean it, and try to accept graciously even of I think the apologizer is being disingenuous.

    • You’re right. I apologized because I felt I needed to–I’d been rude, it was up to me to be un-rude. That the lady was so nice about it was entirely up to her.

      But I’ve not worried about what she thinks of me going back to the gym, not worried that we have unfinished business. Makes going to the gym less difficult.

  12. I had to apologize to the AARP Smart Driver Course instructor last week because I gave him the wrong explanation for a mathematical issue. I was so sure I was right and quite vehement and then realized during a break that my math was wrong! I was totally embarrassed (because my brain has always been my best feature and I hate to be wrong). Like some of the other responders, I tend to be a know-it-all so I sometimes have to apologize for that. I don’t mean to be mean but I tend to be matter-of-fact and I’m trying to help by providing correct information, that unfortunately not too many people appreciate anymore. It seems they’d rather be wrong (oh, there I go, doing it again…sorry, I’ll be quiet now.)

    • I get on the same wavelength–correcting even judges when I KNOW I’M RIGHT. One of my happiest memories from childhood was when my mom tried to give me directions for how to walk between two landmarks and I knew she was wrong. She knew she was right, and was so certain, she piled us all in the car (got a ride to school that day!), and found out she was wrong.

      Sweet… but not so sweet when I’m ob the other end of that faulty conviction.

  13. Love the kitten pictures, Grace! And I think you broke the trainer. All trainers are programmed to expect the answer to be something related to weight loss – strength is only a side benefit. 😉

    The first few days of this past week had me feeling like I had to apologize to multiple people. Monday during the first of my bi-weekly torture sessions I snapped at both my physical therapist and her assistant when they did things that quite honestly always make me want to say really bad words (very loudly) but I usually restrain myself. I apologized before leaving and again on Wednesday. The next day at work I was in a horrible mood and was pretty snarky. Things happened during the day that put me in a worse mood (being asked to drive 160+ round trip miles one day a week for the next 2 months does that to me) Wednesday, I apologized to everyone at work as well.

    I’m lucky that most of the people understood that the root of my horrible mood was having to put down our cat who had been a member of our family for 17 years. But I still feel like I should have had more control.

    • I’m so sorry about your cat, but good on ya for realizing where the taproot was for your irritability. Horses were good for me that way. If I was sitting on some grief, some anger, so sadness, the horse usually sorted it out for me.

      I was once upon a time having a HORRIBLE lesson. My horse was spooking before every jump, ignoring my requests, dodging all over the place, and I finally pulled him up.

      “I’m not enjoying this,” says me, “ever since I totaled the car two weeks ago on that icy bridge, I’ve not been myself.”

      The instructor came over and began patting the horse. “You totaled your car on an icy bridge?”

      “Yes, but my daughter and I are fine.”

      “You had a child in the car with you, you skidded to a wreck on an icy bridge, this happened TWO WEEKS AGO and you haven’t said a word? GRACE….!”

      Many kleenexes later, the horse went over the jumps without a single hesitation. Condolences on your kitty.

  14. My car was in the shop and my husband’s truck was not working. We live in the country, but I work in town. Asking people for rides all week. They had my car for 8 business days. I thought I was going to die. I asked two girlfriends for rides and they couldn’t help me. I snapped at both of them. One ignored me and the other didn’t realize I was being ugly. That Monday I apologized. One girlfriend was really sweet about it, the other didn’t realize I was being ugly. I knew I was being a brat and how I should act. I hate having to apologize, but I do feel better afterwards.

    • I live in the country too, and my ten-year-old truck can be temperamental. I’m also on the defensive when I take it into the shop, ready for the Nice People to find an extra $500 worth of necessary repairs. Without fail, they do.

      Some bad moods are more justified than others, but I’m glad your friends were understanding.

  15. I frequently apologize. I think one of the reasons is because I was simply horrible to my own mother as a teenager. She died when I was 19, and still pretty selfish and full of teenage ‘knowledge’.

    I feel it is important as an adult to hold myself accountable when I wrong someone. I enjoyed your post about recognizing that in yourself and trying to correct the situation. I am sure the cleaning lady appreciated it as well.

    I hope you have a wonderful week. Keep getting stronger.

    • Cue the trumpet fanfare from “Rocky,” because that’s going to be me. Eye of the Tiger works OK, too… I like it best when I’m alone in the gym and I can HEAR those old chestnuts…

      My mom died earlier this year, and as a teen, I was pretty awful to her sometimes too. Then I became a mom, and realized–why is this so hard?–she’d been awful to me in some ways too. Thank heavens she lived long enough that we could repair to neutral corners, and get over ourselves.

      I’m sure your Mom knew you were being an uppity teenager and didn’t make too much of it, because long, long ago, she was one in her fashion too.

  16. Dear Grace, so glad you had a wonderful time in Scotland, but a horrible time at the gym. My time in the gym is never fun, and so I walk 2 miles/day. But, like you, I need to get my strength back.
    On the day of this bog entry, Sept 25, I turned 63. I figure if I don’t start with the weights now that all my parts are still functioning, I will regret it later.(Listen/watch:Sunscreen:–it starts off as if it’s an infomercial, but it’s worth listening to all 5 minutes of quirky advice.)

    As for Ashton, couldn’t remember who in the heck he was! Had to go back and re-read “Hadrian” before I continued on with “Ashton.” So glad I took that detour, but then I recalled why I was peeved with Hadrian. In “The Soldier” Hadrian gets called back because his brother was dying. Then in Hadrian’s book, the brother is hale and hearty but gay–with no explanations as to the health issue. Boy, did my OCD kick in with that one!

    Thank you for all the memorable characters, they give me hope in the face of so much hateful and unforgiving rhetoric of this political campaign. More people should bite their tongue before they speak, and apologize for when they let the hate fly.

    • Mary Margaret, now you have my OCD tendencies kicking in. I hope I explained that only the fear of losing Harold would have been enough to tempt Hadrian from the church, but Hadrian’s was a long book.I might have gotten to chopping scenes too zealously to reduce the page count. Bad on me, if I created a non-sequitur in character motivation.

      And yes, the gym is nothing but penance, but it’s as I told the trainer: It’s this or, “needs assistance with ALL activities of daily living.” Seeing my dad at 95 fit that description, I’m off to the gym.

  17. You are not alone. Some of your concerns/happenings at the gym, I went through when I belonged to the gym. Needless to say, I quit the gym and just started running. I surprisingly lost 15 pounds in a couple of months and felt a lot less stressful. I always wanted to “look good” at the gym. I also tried to stop eating high sugar foods which helped a lot.

    • I’ve quit a lot of gyms, and been injured by nearly every personal trainer I’ve worked with. It’s an oddly unregulated profession–anybody can call themselves a trainer, without any education in physiology or certification in fitness.

      I don’t eat high sugar foods, don’t have complex carbs in the house, blah, blah, blah.

      I do, however, sit a lot (with BREAKS), and that’s a far cry from looking after horses. The older we get, the more quickly we lose muscle mass, so I’ll start bailing against the tide now. I’m glad you found the running, because the best hope for sustained lifestyle changes lies in finding out what you like to do and incorporating that regularly.

      I like to write books. Oh, well.

  18. Really cute pics of kitties in your blog. I try to apologize when I bump into someone or crowd in line without realizing it…small things I might do which might seem like big deals to others.

  19. i’m a crossing guard, and this week a mom wanted to run her child across the street before i was ready. i told her the reason it wasn’t a good idea was that it taught him not to follow the rules.

    when she crossed back over i apologized to her, because i should have just said that for the safety of the students, it would be better if she waited.

    she forgave me, and the rest of the week we have just smiled at each other, and she has waited till i clear the traffic before she crosses.

    • What an interesting occupation. I bet you could write a book. It’s odd to me how people recall crossing guards. There was only one in my childhood, a wizened, skinny old dude who never said anything, but always smiled.

      You don’t forget crossing guards, even fifty years later.

      Glad you made peace with the mom.

  20. I must mess up a lot in my life, because I find myself apologizing regularly. The worst recently was while talking to a friend who has 9 sisters. I was trying to keep track of the sister she was talking about and I made some sort of comment that she simply had too many sisters. Then I realized that one of her younger had passed away a few weeks earlier. I felt just awful.

    She was very gracious and accepted my apology, but I still felt just terrible.

    • Oh, yikes… not a good moment, but you were making idle conversation, not wishing anybody bereavement. Somebody else might not even have realized how awkward the comment was in context.

      Good on ya for apologizing.

  21. I hate conflict of any kind so I tend to say sorry automatically. I really try not to say anything that is mean spirited (at least never to anyone’s face – I’m not a saint lol).

  22. first let me say, thanks for Ashton. I really enjoyed his and his lady’s story. Hang in there with the gym thing. I do think the girl questioning you could have been less snarky too. I bet a walk in nature would make you feel better. Do something rejuvenating.
    I just got back from Europe, and had a most embarrassing reaction to an incident for which I sincerely had to apologize for scaring people in my hotel in Rome.
    I was in the shower and my mom closed the bathroom door and all the lights went out. I fell hitting my head on a marble wall grabbing at safety handle which pulled out of wall and hit me on head. I came to confused and panicked and was yelling for my mom forgetting I was in a really nice hotel. Apparently she had gone to breakfast and my yelling scared the workers and my neighbors. they thought I had found a dead body and we’re trying to locate me. I finally found my way out of the shower and into a robe, let in the nice British lady who was my neighbor and she sent the hotel to find my mom. I ended up apologizing sincerely and profusely while being very rattled for having scared them like that and for getting blood everywhere ( nose was gushing). It was really embarrassing. later when I was more composed I offered her highland chocolatier chocolates as some small thanks and again apologized for the disruption and scare. Apologized to the staff on my floor too. I still went on and saw a good bit if Rome that day and had a great trip and cruise in Italy and the Eastern Adriatic but we all have off days when we are not ourselves. Then we have other times when we get to pass on being the one there for someone having the crap day and trying to make a difference and pass it on that way too. Btw loved absolutely loved my trip to Scotland too and the people connections.

    • Cheri, my GOODNESS what story! Bad enough to have the lights go out mid-shower, bad enough to fall, but then to have the handle fail and smack you on the head… gracious! It would be funny, if you hadn’t been scared, injured, rattled, and embarrassed.

      But you soldiered through it, took Rome by storm, and probably introduced somebody to the BEST chocolate they will ever have. Good on ya!

  23. I got away with not paying attention to fitness all my life through the benefit of a having good metabolism. Then menopause hit. I had very little impact from it EXCEPT for weight gain. Like, a lot of weight gain. A LOT. And I ignored it for too long. I really need to do what you’re doing, Grace, because my muscle mass has gone down the drain as the weight has increased. But I really hate the gym. Everybody is so perky and I’m a curmudgeon. I admire you for persisting. Muscle mass is going to save the bones over the long haul, and broken bones (mostly hips) are what put us in assisted living if we’re too weak to rehab properly. I think my bones are still strong from hauling around this excess weight, but I miss being able to go up a couple of flights of stairs without breaking a sweat or panting like the unfit person I am.

    You know what else I hate about the gym? When they want to weigh and measure you. As if I didn’t have enough angst about going in the first place! Can’t you just see that I’m fat and need to get moving and do some weight training? I don’t want to be part of your database.

    Re the apologies: I always got embarrassed when I said something awful, especially if I was in the wrong about it in the first place. (Although there is no excuse for being awful, even if you are right.) The embarrassment kept me from apologizing; I just put my head down and hoped the other person forgot. However, I have discovered to my surprise that the more effort I make to give a sincere apology (without the ‘splaining’ — thanks for the laugh!) the easier they come. I am trying to just say “I am sorry for being a jerk. Please forgive me. I will try better in future.” without adding all of the supporting nonsense. It is cleansing.

    Nice discussion, ladies! I wish for a coffee shop or wine bar where we could meet, but we’re all in a virtual world, aren’t we?

    • Ruth, mostly I am enjoying menopause. The whole reproductive physiology thing was a lot of misery for me, so the system shutting down is a relief, BUT yeah, the metabolism. I’ve gone from having not much energy to, “What’s energy?” and a slow metabolism now moves at the speed of a glacier.

      I saw a post by Susan Elizabeth Phillips a couple years back, making the point that, “Yeah, 10,000 steps a day–yippee, yahoo, confetti, IF you can do it. If you can’t, then there’s still significant benefit from doing 3500 steps a day. If you can’t do that, do thirty steps a day more than you’re doing now, and try to build on that at a pace that works for you. Do something, light a candle in the darkness, TRY.”

      And then I read something about “activation energy,” meaning I’ll succeed at the things that require the least effort to pull off. If it takes getting dressed, filling the gas tank, driving ten miles, waiting for a turn on the elliptical… ain’t going to happen.

      I bought a tread desk, because I can do that in quarter mile increments, in my nightie and bare feet, at midnight, while playing Solitaire. That’s where I had to start, and where I still end up some days.

      For me, success starts with a baby step. The smallest, least ambitious, hardest-to-resent or rationalize away step I can take in the direction I want to go. Celebrate, repeat.

      I wish we had a coffee shop too, but I AM planning next year’s trip to Scotland. Just a thought…

    • My parents weren’t fussy people, but in addition to “elbows off the table/napkin on your lap” we were hammered on, “Please and thank you.”

      I’m sorry wasn’t emphasized, which I think is an oversight. It can save a relationship, brighten a day, lighten a heart.

      Now I’m asking where I’ve used a sincere apology in a book… or where I could use one. Hmmm.