Guilt Trips

I wish apologizing was as simple as this comic strip… here’s a conversation with a colleague of mine that brought to light my feeingsl of the entire situation.

Raven: My two close girlfriends talked to me last Sunday out of “concern for my well-being.” They thought I have changed, becoming more selfish, inconsiderate and abrasive. Combining Ex#2’s feedback and now my two gf’s comments — all in the same week — I’m still processing whether or not their “concerns” were valid.

Colleague: That’s not a bad thing to do — but don’t beat yourself up about it either.

Raven: I’m not really. They’re just making me feel very guilty because I haven’t shown enough sincerity in apologizing to this other friend, who I’ve wronged.

Raven: For me, I’ve already said sorry… can’t we move on? But for them, they’re surprised that I’m not beating myself up for this, and that I’ve still managed to enjoy myself despite knowing that our other friend is mad at me. They think that’s selfish.

Colleague: Taiwanese friends?

Raven: No, one Taiwanese, the other Filipino-Chinese. I guess, they feel the old Raven would ‘ve felt worse than I’ve been. I took 2 weeks to apologize… They felt, the old Raven would apologize almost immediately, and again and again and again.

Raven: I did apologize that day, but they want me to apologize the next day as well.

Colleague: That is a typical reaction — “I can’t have fun while someone might, possibly, for some reason, may be angry with me.”

Raven: Yeah… I apologized, and then went out and had a great time with other friends. Hence, I’m insincere.

Colleague: Screw that reaction — it’s not helpful and doesn’t contribute to a fulfilled life. Oh yes — the other Taiwanese reaction — you have to apologize until you’re blue in the face. What a crock of shit! It’s a control thing.

Raven: Sigh… I think it’s an Asian thing, not just Taiwanese. You have to show that you’re really, really REALLY sorry before you’re forgiven. I’m like, “But I’ve already said sorry. What else do u want me to do? It’s not as if I can go back and change my mistakes.” Hence, I’m also callous and insensitive.

Colleague: No, you’re sensible. I’ve apologized — if you’re not happy with that, then it’s your problem, I’m not willing to make it mine (and THAT pisses my friends off because I don’t play their games).

Colleague: If you want to play the politics game, then apologize again — but you only play politics with people who are really worth it.

Raven: Well, he’s my best friend so he’s worth it. But I don’t like to beat myself up for something irrevocable. I can’t take back what I did. I can only promise to try not to do it again.

Raven: I guess, my friends are just surprised because the old Raven would act differently (e.g., feel so bad afterwards, and apologize repeatedly). I’m surprised they’re very concerned with the reaction. They were just dumbfounded.

Colleague: You’re growing up. If they want to play manipulation games, let them, but that doesn’t mean you have to.

Raven: I don’t think they intend it to be “manipuation games” so to speak. They’re really nice people. But I don’t think it’s really worth having a “conference” about it.

Colleague: They don’t intend it to be, but it is. The whole Taiwanese thing is about controlling people with guilt trips.

Raven: Well, they said they did it out of concern, because they think I’ve changed, but not necessarily for the better. Hahaha, is this an issue of control? Never really thought about it that way.

Colleague: You don’t think it is? Making someone apologize repeatedly until they’ve groveled enough to make you feel good about yourself so you “forgive” them? That’s not forgiveness, that’s power games/

Raven: Ah, I get your point. Never just thought of it that way. Guess they’re just surprised I’m not acting the way I used to act. Now, I don’t seem to care as much, and they’re concerned. I told them, “It’s not that I don’t care, but the mistake has been done, so no use beating myself up over it.”

Raven: They sure can’t explain it specifically as well. I’m like, “Have I treated u with any disrespect?” To which they say, “It’s not any particular event… it’s a feeling, a series of small things.” So they asked me to think about it. But I couldn’t really get what they’re saying since they can’t explain it well.

Colleague: What they’re saying is “You’re changing, and I don’t want to learn to adjust, so change back.

Raven: Maybe. Of course, u’d have to ask yourself if you’re changing for the better or worst…

Raven: Then they start again by saying, “You seem lost… you’re not happy are you? I don’t think Taiwan’s good for you. It’s changing you.”

Colleague: Change is a part of growing up!

Raven: Upon reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m 25 years old. There’s not a lot of 25 years old who knows exactly where they’re going! Gee, most people I know who are way older than I am are lost too.

Raven: You gave a lot of good points though. It’s always good to talk to you about this; you have a good hold on this. It’s hard for me to stop and ponder about this, as requested by my girlfriends. I seriously don’t think that there’s anything wrong with me. It just bothers me that people are bothered. And they make it sound I’m daughter of Satan.

Colleague: Have you ever heard the saying/joke “The Catholics think they own guilt — but they’re wrong, they just lease it from the Jews”?

Raven: Nope, what does that mean?

Colleague: A lot of (Catholic) families are “managed” by guilt — you do something wrong, and the whole family will make you feel guilty for it. Jewish families are (supposed to be) worse for that.

Raven: Sigh. So I guess, they presume, if I really care for my friend, I should’ve felt guiltier than I did. But I didn’t. So I’m “bad.”

Colleague: Well, I have an addition to that joke. The Jews only have a long-term lease from Asians.”

Colleague: BTW, my mother is the travel-agent for guilt-trips so I know what I’m talking about.

Raven: Really? How do u handle it?

Colleague: I say to myself “OK, you’re trying to send me on a guilt trip, but I’m not willing to go. What’s the real problem here — and what can I do to improve the situation?” I’ll apologize if I’ve done something wrong — but I will NOT go on a guilt-trip.

Raven: Btw, I’ve made peace with my guy friend, so don’t know why girlfriends still making a big deal out of it. Guess, it’s a difference in perceptive.

Colleague: Possibly. Let me tell you a little story. A couple of months ago, I bought a latte from the Starbucks downstairs. When I was putting it in a bag, the lid came off, and I slopped latte all over the counter, the floor and my jeans. The women working there immediately apologized (although it certainly wasn’t their fault). The next day, I walked in again — to a chorus of apologies. That happened for three days until a different shift took over.

Colleague: To be honest, it nearly drove me crazy. But it’s a different cultural view — they wanted to show me they were really sorry (for what, I still haven’t figured out). For me the apology wasn’t necessary — it was *nice*, but it wasn’t necessary. And certainly the next day it was over-kill.

Raven: I guess, here, the number of apologies u make is directly proportional to how sincerely sorry you are. Hence, since I’ve only apologized once, I’m insincere.

Colleague: I guess so. So when I apologize once as well, my friends think I don’t mean it

Raven: Bulls-eye!

Colleague: And as far as I’m concerned, that’s their issue, not mine. Call me culturally insensitive if you like.

So true.

Well, gotta get off my soap box now. But today’s conversation gives me something more to think about, and thanks in advance for your comments!

C’est la vie!

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6 thoughts on “Guilt Trips

  1. You don’t seem to understand what your friends are talking about. Also, you did not fully explain the situation to your colleague and he/she is unable to see the whole picture.

    From what you have written in your blog, your friends are saying that you were not sincere in your apology. You went back to bed, after you woke up, you went wall climbing with the french cutie.

    I apologized on the phone, and then went back to bed.

    Afterwards, I went wallclimbing with French cutie and had a nice BBQ dinner and ice cream with him.

    If I were your friend that you abandoned and I read this blog, I would be even more disappointed in you because you were able to go wall climbing with french cutie instead of trying to meet your friend that you abandoned. If you were really sorry, you could have called him up and said “I’m really sorry…let’s go to lunch after you are done” or something like this.

    Waiting 2 weeks is a long time for a more sincere apology.

    I wouldn’t beat yourself up over this whole situtation. Friends are supposed to accept you for who you are…sounds like you are still discovering who you are.

    Simple rule in life! Treat your friends like you want to be treated.

    Regarding your friends advice. 2-3 of your friends are saying you have changed but you are still trying to figure out if it’s valid. They are your friends of course it’s valid!

    Your friends said “You always hang out with Ex#2 and we believe he’s a bad influence to you,” they said. “His friends aren’t also good for you.”

    Why is he a bad influence? Does he mistreat you? Are his friends bad people? If so, they are right, you should stop seeing him completely.

  2. Wow, so much rationalizing and pontificating. Have your friends become “difficult”?
    Is it possible that you’ve simply OUTGROWN your friendships with Karen, Mary Anne and Mike?

  3. By the way, it’s interesting how you managed to piece all your conversation together. Did you get it all on tape? 🙂

    Come visit my Nest.

  4. Hmmm… I don’t know if you’ve already talked about this in a past entry, but how are you and Mike? Are you guys friends now? What’s important is if HE accepted your apology or not. If he has, then who cares what other people think? But if he hasn’t, and he’s really a good a friend as you say he is, then I suggest you talk to him to find out what’s wrong. I don’t think he’s being petty (i.e. by making you think he expects you to grovel)… there might be more to it than you think.

  5. Ex#2 has never mistreated me. His friends are fine. I love some of them to death. The others, we just don’t share much in common.

    Blackdove, yeah, I have this tendency to think too much and worry about these. I don’t know if I’ve outgrown them, more of, they don’t really understand where I’m coming from. As for the convo, it’s via MSN so it’s word-by-word. 🙂

    Jaclyn, Mike and I have already made peace. I treated him to dinner and said my apologies to him personally. That’s why I don’t know why my girlfriends are still bringing this up… cause despite how long I’ve given my sorry, I have apologized and Mike and I are fine.

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