What follows below is my dissection of my sister's "apology" email. This was an exercise I did within a day or so of sending her my response since I was still turning her statements over and over in my mind. The only way for me to put it to rest was to completely pin her down onto paper. It worked very well to that end. My hope is that my dissection of this non-apology will be helpful to someone who is dealing with something similar. My comments are in bold print.
My Dear Sister,
I am so sorry that my last response offended you.
She is apologizing for my feelings-- which means nothing. My feelings are not something she has control over. She can only control her own feelings and her own actions. So apologizing for my feelings is like apologizing for the sunrise. Meaningless, stupid and condescending. Why condescending? Because of the presumption of power over me that it assumes. It isn't necessarily obvious to an outside observer, but I recognize when my sister is being condescending.
I apologize for not considering that you would have serious concerns or a moral or ethical dilemma regarding K. I truly never considered for a moment that you would have different feelings than I on the matter and for that I am sorry.
First, a lie....then apologizing based on the lie. To say that she didn’t consider that I had serious concerns could only be true if she had never received my first email which outlined my concerns. She knew my concerns. She chose to ignore my concerns. This makes apologizing for not considering my concerns a worthless lie. She spat on my concerns in her April 1st email.
I can understand how you believe that I make everything about me because often I do. It is a residual effect of my upbringing that I daily combat. Sometimes though, I fail miserably and sin in this way. Please forgive me.
Despite saying that she sometimes fails miserably and sins in this way, it is predicated on her casting back to her childhood upbringing (i.e. Mom). She is not accepting full responsibility for her being self-centered. So, she is asking me to forgive her for “often” making everything about herself even though she’s not accepting the responsibility for being that way. This apology doesn’t admit to what she really did. Complete lack of specificity. It lacks time and place as well. She is not admitting that her recent behavior was an example of making everything about her. "Sometimes though..." is not an admission that this time was an instance of it.
I hope that with time you will be able to accept my motives in writing you were not how you interpreted them to be.
This completely discounts my central complaint against her. It, in effect, sweeps it all away with one deft movement. This is her finally getting to what I was angry about; the tone as well as the content of her April 1st email. Does she admit to what she did? Not in the least. Her motives were right, my perceptions are wrong. That is the message. Looking at this statement in light of what was said just before, it lends credence to my suspicion that she was making a general statement but not admitting to “making everything about me” in the context of her contested email to me. . “You must believe me that this time my motives were pure!”.
Please believe me when I tell you that my motive was simply to offer you “where I was coming from” so you could have more complete information from which to formulate your opinion.
This offering of, “where I was coming from” is ridiculous on several faces. Firstly, I wasn’t asking her where she was coming from. All of our many past conversations about K had centered on my sister's perspective. It was finally time, after two years, for my perspective to be considered. I specifically told her I expected her to disagree with my position, but nothing she could say would change the basis of my concerns, and that I hoped she wouldn’t put any pressure on me to change my mind. Her motives are revealed to be completely selfish. She was going against my clearly stated request in order to argue with my position and to defend herself. She admits later that she felt condemned by my position. She felt she had to defend being in K’s life. THAT was her motivation in “offering” me “where she was coming from”. All I see are selfish motivations. All I see is her lying to me about the benevolence of her motivations.
But can I understand your reaction in the light of the fact that you were dreading having to tell me because you said were expecting the worst in my reaction. I know that in the past I have tried to force you into beliefs that you did not hold. I know that I have hurt you terribly because of it. I am so sorry for that.
Now she is laying the charge that I was misreading her motivations because of my expectations. I was seeing what I expected to see. This is condescending. She places herself above me and decides for me my state of mind. She is coming just short of out-and-out telling me that my complaint against her is completely invalid. She is painting me as a wounded soul reacting reflexively against a mere apparition. Her apology here is for some non-specific past event. Meaningless.
But please believe me that this time I was only trying to be truthful and sensitive and reveal my heart so you could know me better.
Again, she places the most benevolent construction on her motives, but appears to be unaware that the above statement reveals again her complete self-centeredness. It was time for her to apply truthfulness, sensitivity and “tenderness” to me. It was inappropriate for her to be forcing her views on me, for that is all that she was doing. What she delicately describes as her being “truthful and sensitive” and the revelation of her heart was plainly and simply her forcing her opinions and "morality" on me. She would, if she could, force me to change my mind. But she now finds it expedient to lie about her motives....a lie I suspect she convinced herself of first.
And I can see how you can read into it that I was once again making everything about me. I was and I am sorry.
This admission of "making everything about me" must be taken in light of what preceded. This statement must be considered in the context of the statement immediately before it in order to ascertain the sincerity and depth of the admission with its accompanying apology. She has made it plain what she thinks about her "once again making everything about me". She sees it as her being truthful, sensitive and vulnerable. In others words, she has committed no real wrong against me. Her apology is thus rendered worthless.
You are right when you say that you and I differ in what we believe about sisterhood. Now I understand how you think on the matter and will not be making the same assumptions I have in the past.
This is a pretense at granting one of my points, but is clearly not such. She is being most vague at what she claims to understand now, therefore I am unable to determine whether any understanding truly exists. The set of assumptions she is now going to operate from are not explicated. This passage is devoid of any meaning. She is not using words to communicate. She is attempting to use words to obfuscate. The typical way a narcissist uses language.
That you feel I have taken our relationship for granted was a sorrow to me. I am so sorry that I have made you feel taken for granted.
This is not difficult to analyze. She is feeling sorrow, not for anything she has done, but for how I have chosen to feel about what she has done. She appears incapable of discerning the patronizing tone this conveys. Her whole missive is an attempt to convey that she sits above the fray and is looking down at her pathetic sister’s angry tantrum and trying to soothe me with cooing sounds. Another point: she is misstating my point. I told her she was taking our relationship for granted. She deftly avoids addressing that issue anywhere in this letter. In the first sentence above she says, “that you feel I have taken our relationship for granted is a sorrow to me.” Then she shifts what I said into how she decides it really is, “I am so sorry that I have made you feel taken for granted.” This may seem like I’m parsing something too subtle to bother with. But I see significance in the sleight of hand way she changed what I was saying. I was very specific in my charge. It is our relationship she takes for granted. But she takes herself out of the picture by changing “our” to “you”. I’m the one, once again, with the problem. Her side of the equation is a-okay. Stated in yet another way, there is no problem with “our relationship”, there is a problem with me and my perceptions of it.
Please forgive me for showing you such a poor example of my love for you. I want to learn how to love you in a way that feels like love to you.
More patronizing words. She would act like all she is guilty of is showing me a “poor example” of her love. It was poor in that she merely failed to love me in a way that feels like love to me. She, again, would grant herself claim to the most benevolent of mistakes. She is telling me that my taking offense is simply my misunderstanding her love for me. This is sick.
I know that our differences in temperament and disposition have made it more difficult for us to relate all through our lives.
It is much easier to believe this than to believe the real reason for our difficulties which can be laid to the differences in our characters. But she isn’t willing to face the base and decrepit nature of her character. That would require she actually examine herself rather than me. That would require change. She would rather ascribe all differences to “temperament and disposition” which she believes to be set at birth. It can’t be helped. Therefore, we must accept each other for what we are. Moral warts and all. This is her demand that I not judge her character. This is her insistence that she is a good person. By virtue of past conversations I happen to know that my sister believes she possesses the most superior of temperaments. Sanguine. She believes that other temperaments are of inferior value because the psychobabble primers on the “four temperaments” present the strengths and weaknesses of the four temperaments and "sanguine" comes out on top in her opinion. Therefore, I can know in her statement is an attitude of superiority. Mine is the inferior temperament. My misunderstanding of her is part of the weakness of my disposition. She has defended herself here quite skillfully. It is the skill of the practiced con artist. She would deny me the high ground of character and place me lower than her on her own scale of measure of human worth.
I know that when I am excited I want everyone to get excited too. What I didn’t know is how it made you feel when I do that. I am so sorry.
She is again “so sorry” for how I feel. This should not be mistaken as an apology of any worth. She finds virtue in her desire that everyone be as excited as she is. She seems unable to grasp how utterly self-involved this really is.
I can also see that you and I feel differently about relationships. I have always known that you take them very seriously and try to be honorable in your relationships.
This is a spot of unintended humor in this tedious reply. She draws a distinction between our way of dealing with relationships and then describes me as taking them very seriously and with honor. An intelligent reader can only conclude that she doesn’t take relationships seriously nor does she operate in them from a position of personal integrity. It is impossible to believe she realizes how she exposed her baseness here.
But I never understood before now that you consider relationships as responsibilities to carry.
Eureka! She has discovered yet another difference in our approach to relationships.....I conduct myself in them with a sense of responsibility. How novel! How quaint!
But knowing that now, suddenly it makes a lot of sense to me why you are thinking as you do about K. I think I get it.
Yes, let’s just toss what I actually said about my thoughts on having a relationship with K and try to intuit things by what wasn’t said. This is again condescending because she is analyzing what I didn’t say like some highly paid psychiatrist. Like she is better able to understand my mind than I do. By the way, she “gets” nothing.
You don’t want to burden K with a relationship that you think is unnecessary and you aren’t sure you are ready to enter into the responsibility of a relationship with her either.
This is extremely annoying in that I said nothing of this sort. Nothing. She is “getting” something that is not in the least bit true. This tells me that she can not understand my words because it is more fun to ignore the words and decide for me what I’m really thinking. This is patronizing and insulting.
That you and I think differently about this is not a matter of one of us being right and the other wrong.
She would act like she is instructing me on this point when the opposite is true. She did try to portray me as being in a morally inferior position in her April 1st letter. I called her on it. Now she would act like she is egalitarian on this issue which is decidedly opposite of how she acted. Therefore, it is a lie that she feels this way. But she seized this point with probably no small degree of relief. She felt defensive when I stated my position on my having a relationship with K which means she felt like she was seen as being wrong by me. “Oh! Relief! I was needlessly defensive. Okay, I’ll pretend like I never thought either of us was right or wrong.” Childish antics.
I think it’s because we have completely different temperaments which cause us to perceive things entirely different. I hope what can change in the future is that we can both feel free to express our perceptions freely.
Based on what? She has given no assurance that the penalty for free expression has been lifted. This is just prattle. The PC version of "tolerance" means you have to listen to and at least look like you agree with everything I say, but it ain't a two-way street. From her perspective, anything I say that goes against what she thinks is subject to extreme measures. Ah, yes. My life with sister.
I will work on receiving your input without making you feel judged.
Interesting. She admits it will require work on her part to not make me feel judged. Funny when considering how defensive she got when she assumed I was judging her by my simply stating my position on meeting her biological daughter. I was not judging her in any way. I have no control over her decisions only my own. I can not help that my personal opinions on my own conduct made her feel judged. There is nothing I could do about that. I was even careful to make sure I confined my opinions to my own conduct and not hers. Now, with this statement above, I get her confession that she is herself judgmental. Not like that is any surprise to me. It is only surprising that she accidentally admitted to it.
I certainly don’t want you to feel that way with me and I am sorry that my last correspondence made you feel judged by me.
She goes back to my feelings. She admits nothing here except that I perceived something that wasn’t there. She is, in practical reality, blaming me for being upset. I am the source of my problem, not her.
I have re-read the e-mail I sent and I can honestly say that it wasn’t the intent of my heart when writing it, to make you feel judged for not believing as I did. But I believe you that you did feel that way and so I offer you my deepest apology.
Let’s put this in other, clearer, words. “I didn’t intend to make you feel judged, but since you feel I did so, I will apologize for your mis-perception.” Look at how big a person she is! She apologizes even when she isn’t wrong. She doth demonstrate the pure condescension of her entire so-called apology letter, yet again. Another apology that is worth less than nothing.
If I were to be completely honest with both you and myself,
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.....ha. That would be a first!
I would have to say that my last e-mail to you was written from the perspective that I was trying to justify my decision and make you see that I wasn’t a bad person for believing that I was doing the right thing for K. That I caused you to be burdened with granting me absolution on the matter is very wrong. I can see why you reacted as you did. I was asking you to give me what you could not...and should not have to give. Please for give me for doing this to you and causing you such distress as a result.
She gets the closest here to admitting to something real. She finally comes clean on the defensiveness that inspired her retort on April 1st. To admit to being defensive validates my take on her response. She was fighting. To be defensive is to feel one self in the one-down position in a fight. She has unknowingly confirmed that my reaction to her letter was justified. But she thinks she is only admitting to feeling attacked by me (when I was only thoughtfully explaining my personal decision regarding a relationship with K). I am supposed to be softened by her admission of defensiveness because it is supposed to tell me that I had hurt her feelings. She can’t see how she is again making everything about her. Her feelings are top consideration at every juncture. To say that she was burdening me with granting her absolution on the matter is another illustration of how manipulative her letter to me was. It wasn’t like she came right out and asked for this absolution. No, she would gain it by devious measures. She would try to gain it by getting me to change my mind through her non acceptance of my stated opinions. She would underhandedly try to invalidate my concerns and convictions. She would manipulate me into giving her this absolution she feel she wanted. She has unknowingly revealed the deviousness of her response to my April 1st letter.
I spoke to K about your preferences on the Saturday I received your first e-mail. I told her that you felt morally and ethically wrong to impose on her life at this time of her development. I told her how you didn’t want to hurt her, P or D [adoptive parents] or interfere with her family life in any way. I told her that when she is an adult and able to initiate a relationship with you, that you will be more that happy to receive her at that time. Her response was,“ so she is not rejecting me...she just feels like now isn’t the right time.” I agreed and she was fine with it.
Well, isn’t this just pretty? She told K my stance on the subject and K was fine with it. Who could have predicted that?
You are right, if I was present at your first meeting I would do everything I could to facilitate you getting to know each other.
I told her she would be a steamroller and would hinder us from getting to know each other because she doesn’t know us. But she re-terms it as “facilitate”. Therefore, she is rejecting my point. She still feels she would make a first meeting between us and K go smoother. Another pretense at admitting one of my points while she does no such thing.
And now I understand how irritating that would be to you.
But now what she understands is that I would feel irritated by her “facilitating” efforts. Poor, misguided soul that I am.
And you know, I can accept that.
Gee, it is so damn generous for her to accept my feelings on something she disagrees with. It matters not whether or not she “can accept that”. She wasn’t being asked a question. She was being told how it would be. But she would act like she had considered the request of a supplicant and graciously granted the request despite not agreeing with the validity and rightness of the claim. More condescension shining through. She can’t hide what she is.
I can see how that would feel like pressure to you and how that could cause resentment or at least discomfort. And I don’t want to cause you to feel that way at all. So I can see why you made that request.
She is simply acquiescing to my small little feelings from her position of superiority. She is only admitting that I would feel negatively, but certainly goes nowhere near to admitting that my negative feelings would be justified.
Anna, much of what you see in me is true and valid.
I would have no idea of what I may have said that she saw as true and valid because she didn’t validate even one of my points in this missive. Which means that I see this “admission” as no such thing. She is admitting nothing even while mouthing words of admission. More con-artistry.
I am praying that God will make the necessary changes in my character so I am a better person.
More admission that admits little to nothing. To be a better person would imply she is already a good person. Good, better, best is how we conjugate it. I am supposed to believe she is a spiritual person even after I’ve been assaulted by her self-righteous and deceptive efforts at justification. This is not my understanding of true spirituality. But she appeals to a higher power for vindication. Good luck with that, sister. By the way, her mother has uttered this statement untold numbers of times. Nobody cares if you are praying to God to change you into a "better" person, they only care if He actually succeeds in making you a better person.
I hope that you will understand that much of what I say and do that causes you pain is not intentional.
I have never understood why saying that offenses felt were never delivered intentionally. This only says that the offender is incapable of empathy and therefore are incapable of knowing when they are recommitting offenses. You and your feelings are overlooked because all the narcissist sees is their own selves. What they want. What they feel. What they think. That you get run over by them is only because they don't think about you at all.
In my heart I hold the highest regard and love for you. In our youth you were the nurture that I did not receive anywhere else. I do ask a lot from you because that was the role I have seen you in. But it was wrong for you to have been placed in a position to “mother” me. That was far too great a responsibility for you to have to carry when you were so young and it is wrong for me to hold you in that role right now. Please forgive me for burdening you with my emotional needs.
I never perceived our childhood as putting me in the position to “mother” her. I didn’t feel maternal toward her. I was nice to her. I wasn’t abusive. I did look out for her in many ways, which was often rewarded by her taking advantage of me. My sister has rewritten history here. I believe she frames it this way as a form of flattery to me. She has been describing me like this quite often in our conversations of the last year. She has re-defined the relationship for her own advantage. I could list the many advantages but will confine myself to one. She sees me as someone to be used to gain whatever emotional support she wants. Her definition of a mother is a mega-nurture machine. Someone who is always there, always offers comfort to any perceived boo-boo, who has no needs or feelings of her own that the child must acknowledge or even be aware of. What she defines as me being a type of mother to her is really her describing me as someone she thought she could use at will. That, of course, doesn’t sound very good when stated that way. So we call it something different. Something that conjures up mental pictures of a poor, neglected child needing some unconditional love and support. This is how she would continue to use me if she could get away with it. But she has been called on her game and is pretending to retreat from it even while she describes the game in the most innocuous of terms. All I see is a very sick dynamic that has existed between us for far too long.
And please do not read sarcasm into that statement.
Even the dullest reader would not think they had read any sarcasm in this letter. So what I perceive is sister asserting her moral superiority yet again. My previous letter, to which she was responding in this letter, was sharply sarcastic. It was calculated by me for effect. Sarcasm was used to illustrate the complete absurdity of her April 1st email. Sarcasm was used to put on edge on my words....I was trying to get her attention. She is subtly denigrating my use of sarcasm by making sure to mention she never used it herself.
In fact, nothing I have written today or on my former e-mail comes from sarcasm. I am sincere in my expressions to you.
Maybe this statement reveals why she looks down on my sarcasm. She chooses to see sarcasm as insincerity. Whatever. I can not help that she doesn’t understand the various usages of language to make a point. If she would condemn me for using sarcasm then she must condemn God as well. He freely used it when addressing Job and his dull understanding of spiritual realities. I was addressing her dull understanding of my previous email.
I have hurt you and I have wronged you and I am truly deeply sorry. Please forgive me.
Ho hum. With all that preceded these two sentences, how do I feel that this means anything of value?
What I come away with is that my sister is utterly and completely immersed in her self-deceptions. She can’t be trusted to be honest about what she does or who she is. She engages in serpent-speak. Deception by commission and omission are expressed in nearly every statement. I can not picture myself trusting her under any circumstance. Her deceptiveness is revealed to be reflexive which can only lead me to conclude that she is greatly practiced at it. She is of the most dangerous variety of deceptive persons in that she has herself deceived first and foremost. She appears to me that she believes her lies, which render her capable of convincing most people of her great sincerity and honesty. This is the type of person who can do the most damage to another’s life and reputation should they bend their efforts in that direction. I will not willingly allow such a person close to me for it is like clasping a viper to one’s breast. Getting bitten is assured.
I Love You, D
What D calls love is simply hunger. She knows nothing of love for she has relegated it entirely to the realm of emotion. To her, love is a hunger, and a warm feeling of satisfaction when fed. To her, love is not defined by doing. In fact, in order to perceive her love one has to ignore, discount or explain away the doing. Love is not entirely defined by an action, but neither can it be substantiated by words alone. And if a person’s words and actions contradict each other, you must believe the actions over the words. Or you’re a fool. This letter of hers is a demand that I believe the existence of her love based on her words alone. But because these words are often demonstrably lies, then I can find no assurance whatsoever in the words. I would be an complete idiot if I did.