Remember that quiet, dirgelike song from Elton John in the ’70s that goes like this?: “It’s sad [so sad], so sad [so sad], such a sad, sad situation.” The sad situation he’s singing about is when love dies and one partner doesn’t want to make it work anymore. But the name of the song—and the point of the song—is “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word.”
At its core, divorce isn’t angry or mean or lying-cheating-stealing (even if those are involved): it’s sad, heartbreak of the highest order. And for some reason, we tend to make it worse by covering up all the sad, turning our back on the fact that divorce is the death of a dream more than its a failure of one or both people.
And Elton’s right: “Sorry” may be just a word, and a hard one to say at that, but it goes a long way in starting the healing process. I know that when Chris and I found ways to apologize to each other as we were breaking up—for saying stupid sh– to each other when we were fighting about, I mean negotiating about, the separation agreement; or, near the end of the process, when we apologized to each other for all the mean things we’d thought about and said to each other during our marriage—were some of the most profound, and freeing, experiences in my life. And yes, it was hard to say. But absolutely worth it. Because it helped set us free from each other.
Remember, forgiveness isn’t about letting your partner off the hook; it’s about letting you off the hook. (In the Simple Truths section on this website, I posted this quote I heard from someone else and LOVE: “Hanging on to resentment is like swallowing rat poison and wondering why the rat isn’tdead.” Ha!) And even if you’re angry at your partner for some of the behavior, you can still be sorry that it didn’t work out. Because, aren’t you? Even if in the end you know moving on is better for you? There’s still a lot of sad in letting go of what you thought was meant to be. Honor it.
But the rock star I’m talking about in the headline of this post isn’t Elton. It’s Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, whose ex-wife let the world know that he apologized to her when their divorce was finalized a day or so ago. Says56-year-old Jo Wood, “It was nice of him,” before saying she’d forgiven him then and forgiven him now. Then she delivered this gentle wallop: “It’s the first time I’ve ever known him actually to say I’m sorry, so that was quite amazing.” (Click through to here, to see his obvious discomfort.)
Good for you, Ronnie. Thanks for serving as an example. If the rich, famous, and professionally spoiled among us in this world can apologize when a marriage reaches its terminus, so can the rest of us.
(And if I’ve given you a persistent ear worm with the snippet of the Elton tune, click here to see Elton at his finest in 1977, pre-toupée.)