If someone hits you across the face because he lost his temper, and then he apologized later on for losing his temper, do you forgive him?
What if the next time he loses his temper, he throws a plate at you? Do you forgive him again? He can’t help it sometimes, he pleads, certainly you understand. But he promises not to get angry easily, he will try to be more calm, he promises.
And then he hits you again, without thinking. Without even batting an eyelash. It just happened, he explains. He couldn’t control his hands whenever he loses it. He’s just human, he says. Everyone gets mad, everyone. Even you, of course. So, do you forgive him?
Everyone loses his temper from time to time, we are all humans after all. Yes, yes. Valid point. But not everyone hits people when they lose their temper. Not everyone throws things. Not everyone twists your arm when they get annoyed. Not everyone threatens to strangle you in your sleep or put rat poison in your coffee. Everyone loses their tempter from time to time, yes. But not everyone resorts immediately to violence.
When he says sorry for being angry, do you soften? When he kisses your hand, gently caresses the side of your cheek that he slapped, does it make things better? He knows he’s wrong, he almost cries. He hates himself for always getting mad, he kisses you again and again and again as he says sorry. Sorry for his bad temper. Sorry for having short patience. Sorry, sorry, sorry.
But he will never apologize for hitting you. For making you wear cardigans even though it’s warm because you don’t want people to see the bruises on your arms. For making you nervous every time he raises his voice. For making you flinch every time he raises a hand, even just to ruffle his hair out of frustration. And he will never apologize for making you forgive quickly, without thinking. For making the word sorry code for “let’s forget about it.”
Sorry is not for the time he got angry, it is for when he hit you, for when he reduced your existence to your skin he could burn, the hair he could pull, the bones he could break.
Everyone gets mad. But he can’t use it as a pretext to violence. He can’t weaponize his feelings to shoot down someone else’s. Because he is not entitled to violence just because he felt like using it. And you are not compelled to forgive him just because the word sorry exists.