How Apologies Can Help You Move Forward With Your Life
“To err is human; to forgive divine.” But what if the person who hurt you most refuses to apologize or express any regret?
That’s the question haunting Manhattan journalist Susan Shapiro when her trusted advisor of fifteen years repeatedly lies to her. Stunned by the betrayal, she can barely eat or sleep. She’s always seen herself as big-hearted and benevolent, someone who will forgive anyone anything - as long as they’re remorseful. Yet the addiction specialist who helped her quit smoking, drinking and drugs after decades of self-destruction won’t explain – or stop - his ongoing deceit, leaving her blindsided. Her crisis management strategy is becoming her crisis.
To protect her sanity and sobriety, Shapiro ends their relationship and vows they’ll never speak again. Yet ghosting him doesn’t end her distress. She has screaming arguments with him in her mind, relives their fallout in panicked nightmares and even lights a candle, chanting a secret Yiddish curse to exact revenge.
In her entrancing, heartfelt new memoir The Forgiveness Tour: How to Find the Perfect Apology, Shapiro wrestles with how to exonerate someone who can’t cough up a measly “my bad” or mumble “mea culpa.” Seeking wisdom, she explores the billion-dollar Forgiveness Industry touting the personal benefits of absolution, where the only choice on every channel is: radical forgiveness. She fears it’s all b******t.
Desperate for enlightenment, she surveys her old rabbis, as well as religious leaders from every denomination. Unable to reconcile all the confusing abstractions, she embarks on a cross country journey where she interviews people who suffered unforgivable wrongs that were never atoned: victims of genocides, sexual assault, infidelity, cruelty and racism. A Holocaust survivor in D.C. admits he’s thrived from spite. A Michigan man meets with the drunk driver who killed his wife and children. A daughter in Seattle grapples with her mother - who stayed married to the father who raped her. Knowing their estrangement isn’t her fault, a Florida mom spends eight years apologizing to her son anyway -with surprising results. Does love mean forever having to say you’re sorry?
Critics praised Shapiro’s previous memoir Lighting Up: How I Stopped Smoking, Drinking and Everything Else I Loved in Life Except Sex as fiercely honest, fascinating, funny and “a mind-bendingly good read.” Now the bestselling author and popular writing professor returns with a darker, wiser follow up, addressing the universal enigma of blind forgiving.
Shapiro’s brilliant new gurus sooth her broken psyche and answer her burning mystery: How can you forgive someone without an apology? Does she? Should you?
Journalist Shapiro (Lighting Up) chronicles her search for ways to heal after a devastating betrayal in this magnificent work. Her previous memoir recounted her successful therapy with addiction specialist Daniel Winters. Here, she wrestles with the revelation that their 15-year therapeutic relationship was founded on lies, when she finds out he's been treating someone she'd asked him not to see. Winters's refusal to explain or show remorse infuriated her and led her to set out on a quest to determine how to forgive someone who won't apologize. Shapiro interviews colleagues, students, and religious leaders to probe universal questions around hurt, absolution, and contrition. Analyzing Jesus's plea, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do," a Presbyterian minister posits that "forgiving can get you out of pain." A colleague tells her, "Jewish law requires a person to ask heartfelt forgiveness three times," and that "if the injured party won't respond...the non-forgiver has to seek forgiveness for not forgiving." A Hindu guru, meanwhile, warns that an "angry grudge... burns your own heart first." Their wisdom moves her to realize "how small my saga was" and to forgive Winters (who apologized first). By blending these stories with her own experiences and writing with insight, humor, and grace, Shapiro's elegant survey becomes one largely about plumbing the boundless depths of the human heart. This is essential reading.