R3

“Surely it is a welcome event when one who has injured you owns up to having done so and sincerely expresses sorrow and regret for his deeds.”

I would add that this is a rare event as well as a welcome one. How often do we own up to our mistakes big or small? Again, it reminds me of the lawsuit with my mother. It took years for the discovery team to find out what really happened and that was because all along the hospital tried to conceal it. Only when the mother in law of the doctor who injured her called the lead attorney involved with my mother’s case did they know the truth; that the doctor was in and out of rehab for years, and yet allowed back onto the floor where she had to work with the very drugs she was addicted to. Once that information was confirmed the hospital finally conceded that the doctor had a problem saying they were trying to help her by asking her to go through rehab. To this day the doctor is employed as an anesthesiologist only in a different state. Desmond Tutu once said, “I will forgive you if you take my pen, but only if you give it back.” How often can we admit to our mistakes and shortcomings? Even as a child when I took my sisters clothing and was caught I denied it. That was a small infraction, yet there were many others.  It is uncomfortable to own up to our human failings. On a small scale perhaps there are no consequences on a grand scale when we have hurt someone it is necessary and essential for the hurt party to have the wrong acknowledged. Does it always result in getting one’s pen back? Unfortunately, no, but if we can offer some consolation we should. If I return my sisters clothing with an apology for taking them it is better than just returning them in silence. In this way, my sister feels validated. A wrong was committed, as small as it was, and in this instance I have the ability to make it right. With my mother’s legs the same was not possible. I remember her saying, “I do not want anything from the lawsuit, but enough to pursue the therapy necessary to restore my leg function.” She wanted her pen back or wanted to try to get it if it were at all possible. The lawsuit was a frustration to them because not only would she never walk again, there was no apology, no assumption of responsibility for the failings of the doctor and the hospital’s bad judgement. The use of her legs would not have resulted, yet I am sure on a human level she would have felt validated, even if she thought, well this does nothing, I am left with the same result and will never walk again. When a person admits the wrong there is a deep psychological impact. When it is done in a sincere and sorrowful way there is even hope.

 

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R2

Natalie Ross

English 110

R2

19 September 2016

In Chapter 5 of Spelman’s book Repair, the author discusses the complex nature of an apology, what it is and what it means to the person who receives it. She explains that to mend a tear in a relationship, an apology is necessary, and continues by saying that an apology takes both people in order to repair. This chapter brought a question to my mind. How do you forgive someone that made such a huge impact on someones life because of their carelessness? Spelman says,

“Once the apology is proffered, the spotlight turns on the one whom it is addressed: will she or won’t she give up her resentment? Even in the absence of an apology, there is likely to be great pressure to give up resentment” (87).

I understand this passage in a profound way, and relate this to a life changing experience that my mom had when I was only two years old. My mom was pregnant with my younger sister Anna, during the administration of the epidural the doctor, who happened to be on drugs at the time, mixed the wrong chemicals, burning her spinal cord. My mom is now paralyzed from the waist down; for life. She will never walk or run again, and every simple task became a challenge. As I got older, we have discussed the injury in depth. I began to wonder how she forgave this person who changed her life in so many ways, and brought unnecessary suffering to those she loves the most. After the doctors realized what happened to my mom they transferred her to a different hospital. My mom explained how the anesthesiologist came to see her. As she stood at her bedside in tears the doctor said, I am sorry I do not know what happened.

Years later, during the lawsuit, the doctor followed my parents home, trying again to make amends, but she never got out of the car. The first apology was in fact a lie. She knew well what happened that night, that she was in and out of rehab twice, and struggled with a drug problem. Years later my mom who was still working to walk, but had more children was ready to offer the doctor peace. She knew that litigation never brings out what really needs to occur between the people who are affected by such a tragedy. The doctor needed to be forgiven, enough time had passed, and my mom was ready to let go of her sadness and accept what happened the night that changed her life forever. The first apology was not sincere because out of fear of a lawsuit the doctor was unable to disclose what actually happened to cause her harm. In this case the law interfered with the what was needed to repair the physician patient relationship. My mother knew that although the hospital and the lawyers never allowed them to speak in person she still needed to forgive in her heart otherwise bitterness and resentment would prevail. In some situations there is no moment of truth, this is one example, but that does not mean there is no forgiveness. Spelman speaks to this point in her book when she says,

“Since apologies cannot be forced from people, the very fact of their being forced undermines their claim to sincerity” (84).

The truth of what happened could not be forced out of the doctor less she lose her medical license and therefore her feeble effort to say something to my mother was an unfulfilled opportunity. After the lawsuit settled they never saw one another, and the agreement made did not ask that she apologize for what occurred. I wondered if she ever thought about our family. As for my mom, she deals with her injury each day, but I know she is free from harboring any ill feelings toward anyone involved in her case.

In order to move on with our lives, Spelman says we must forgive and let go of that resentment that is our path to repair and ultimately be free of our hurt. If the apology isn’t sincere, this makes it more difficult to let go of resentment. Sixteen years have gone by since my moms injury, and she is one of the strongest, and happiest people I know. Her attitude towards it has shown me that although life is filled with struggle, in order to live our lives as fully as possible we have to let go of the grudges we hold. Even when we don’t want to forgive, or when we believe an apology is insincere, we have to forgive what others have done to us, in order to move on, and repair ourselves. This has been a great example for me when dealing with broken relationships, or when I’ve been disappointed with someone. Sometimes, there is never the moment I hope for where a person recognizes and takes responsibility for the way they have hurt me. My responsibility to myself is to forgive, and even if that takes time. Repair can only occur where there is an attitude of peace and love. We will never be completely free from hurt but we can offer ourselves the best environment to repair whether through an accepting an apology or forgiving, knowing that this is a cycle we will repeat for our entire life.

 

R1

Natalie Ross

English 110

R1

12 September 2016

 

In Spelman’s book, Repair the author discusses the differences between domestic masculinity and domestic femininity. She states that women are more focused on the repair of people and relationships, where men focus more on the repair of objects, such as a car. Spelman states,

 “Like cars human beings suffer wear and tear.” (35).

This quote provoked my thoughts about how truly complex repair is, especially in a human relationship. A car can be put back together, and revert more or less to its original function. Yet, a broken friendship, relationship, or even marriage may be repaired through an apology, but it most likely will not be restored to its original state. The relationship is unable to resume back to its original element because beneath the repair of the brokenness, the damage is not erased. When a wound is mended there is often a scar. The scar actually has a different texture to it than the skin around it, which allows you to realize that something has occurred. A positive aspect of a scar is it can be a reminder of how we healed. A downfall of a scar is that it truly never goes back to the fresh, soft skin that existed before we were cut, or burnt.  The scar will forever be right in front of our eyes, reminding us of the event. If it is not in eye sight, the thought of the event will always be in the back of our minds, haunting us. In many shapes or forms the person has changed because of it, and because we are all different, some wear their scars on their sleeve while others remain hidden. The inescapable part of the human condition is suffering. As a response to this we are constantly growing and mending ourselves. It is an inevitable part of life. We can never be the same version of ourselves as we were before we suffer. As a teenager, there have been many times where a friendship, or promise in one of my relationships was broken. The issue was often trust that was lost within the relationship. I found out how difficult it is to forgive and how sometimes even if I believed that hurt was of the past, something so small could bring it to the surface again. I asked myself often, how do I forgive? What is required in order to forgive? When the situation has been something inconsequential, I could forget about it, or at least attempt to. Other times I could forgive, but I learned that certain people would continue to hurt me. As a result of this, friendships and relationships were changed. In thinking about it more deeply I wondered if even a car that has been damaged can ever be the completely the same. We can compare ourselves to a new car. We are born in pristine condition. For a short time, everything is perfect, we have not been emotionally dented. Once we are driven for the first time, there is a risk that is taken. We find out, how well were we made? Even when all of the parts are performing perfectly we run the additional risk of accident or just every day there might be a wear and tear. Assuming our parents are loving people our life after the womb begins like a new car. We are hopefully loved, but even that is not a guarantee. We are exposed and vulnerable from our infancy. Will others in the world love and accept us? When they do we reciprocate that feeling of love. Eventually there comes a time when wear and tear fractures all of us, even those of us who are protected. The forces of the outside world and other people cannot be controlled as if in a scientific experiment. We try to control certain variables, but inevitably chance and circumstance enter in. To survive we must adapt and by that, I do not mean only physical survival. This is why forgiveness is essential. When we allow wounds to linger, when we do not forgive we are the ones who end up more damaged. Anger, resentment, and bitterness follow. I am only 18 years old but I continue to learn to forgive the past otherwise I am haunted and controlled by it. To thrive, to function and my optimal best I repair myself by offering what I hope to receive from my family and friends. Repair is something we do everyday. It is not simple yet necessary. We are constantly trying to fix things, whether its a relationship, ourselves, or an object. We eventually realize what is worth trying to fix and what isn’t. There are complex concepts for a child, even for adults, but that can be simplified. What may be most important is practicing these ideas from an early age. Being taught that we are not perfect allows us to be compassionate toward others when we experience their flaws. Apologies, forgiveness and even compassion require discipline. They must be practiced and I have found I have needed to practice them in my day to day life in order to repair.