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妻子患癌症后我背叛了她,我该如何道歉?

更新时间:2018-7-4 20:22:24 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

I Did a Terrible Thing. How Can I Apologize?
妻子患癌症后我背叛了她,我该如何道歉?

As we scroll through the latest apologies in our news feeds (I’m sorry if anyone was offended; it was the culture back then; I’m mostly sorry but not for THAT one), it’s easy to see what apologies are not. But I’ve been thinking a lot about what apologies are, and why we make them.

当我们滚动浏览新闻源中最新的致歉时(如果有人因此觉得受到了冒犯,我道歉;当时的文化就是这样的;我很抱歉,但不是因为那个原因),不难发现什么样的道歉算不上道歉。但我倒是一直在思考,究竟什么是道歉,以及我们为什么要道歉。

A few months ago, I flew from New York to Wisconsin to say I’m sorry to my ex-wife. We had been together for 14 years when she was told she had breast cancer in 2006. I was beside her through her surgery and chemo appointments, but I was terrified. At the end of her chemo, when she was still very sick, I ran. I began a torrid affair with my therapist, whom I eventually married.

几个月前,我从纽约飞到威斯康辛州,去向前妻道歉。2006年,她被告知患有乳腺癌时,我们在一起已经14年了。手术和化疗期间,我一直陪着她,但我很害怕。在化疗结束的时候,我跑了,当时她病得还很重。我和我的治疗师开始了一场干柴烈火的婚外情,后来和她结了婚。

My ex-wife healed from the cancer, and went on to marry again and have two children, but my violation was a big one. I’d said I was sorry before, but the words didn’t reach the bottom of an experience as deep as abandonment.

我前妻的癌症治好了,之后她再婚,还有了两个孩子,但我的罪过太大了。我之前也对她说过抱歉的话,但比起被遗弃的痛苦,那些话太轻飘飘了。

If words aren’t enough, what’s left? In a recent phone conversation, she told me that she never really had the chance to sit me down and tell me how the pain I caused her felt. A key part of apology, perhaps, is really listening to the victim’s experience, taking that in deeply. So I booked a ticket to Wisconsin. The plan was to listen and then, together, try to create a process of repair. We had no idea what this might look like.

如果言语不足以表达,那还有什么办法?在不久前通电话的时候,她告诉我,从来没有机会真正地跟我坐下来,说说我给她造成的痛苦。或许,道歉的一个重要环节就是真正聆听受害方的经历,好好理解对方的痛苦。所以,我订了去威斯康辛的机票。我的计划是,先倾听,然后尝试一起创立一个修复过程。究竟会发生什么,我们也说不清。

The word “apology” comes from the Greek “apologia,” which means justification, explanation, defense or excuse. Our American apologies are often nothing more than linguistically limber exercises. From Harvey Weinstein scapegoating an entire era to Bill Clinton expressing “regret,” we see example after example of people wriggling away from explicit blame. It’s no wonder, if even our presidents can’t buck up, that the little guys are so befuddled.

“道歉”(apology)这个词来源于希腊语“apologia”,意思是辩解、解释、辩护或道歉。我们美国人的道歉,往往是在玩文字上的游戏。从哈维·韦恩斯坦(Harvey Weinstein)把整个时代都当作替罪羊,到比尔·克林顿(Bill Clinton)表示“遗憾”,我们看到了一个又一个支吾其词、不愿意承担责任的例子。连我们的总统都做不到勇于担责,也就难怪小人物会犯糊涂了。

The Jewish process of apology, teshuvah, requires that the one seeking forgiveness first undergo a personal inventory, or reckoning. In Hebrew, “teshuvah” means “return.” I thought that it might give us a kind of frame for our process together.

犹太人的道歉过程叫teshuvah,它要求寻求宽恕的当事人首先要进行个人总结,或者说,清算。在希伯来语中,teshuvah的意思是“返回“。我想,这可能能给我们的共同过程提供一种框架。

What I found was that there wasn’t much time. My ex seemed happy to see me, but her 2-year-old had to go down for a nap. Her 4-year-old wanted to play with magnet tiles. Then it was time for the library and swim lessons and to put the shoes on, take the shoes off, put the shoes on again — oops, we left Lammy at the library — and hurry up and find a snack. It wasn’t until two days into the trip that we really sat down and talked. This, though, was part of the healing. While I had envisioned a major summit meeting, what came through was life — her full and happy life, and she was letting me be a part of it. Returning.

到了之后,我发现留给我们独处的时间恐怕有限。我的前妻似乎很高兴见到我,但她两岁的那个孩子要睡觉。4岁的那个想玩磁力片积木。然后是图书馆和游泳课时间,穿鞋、脱鞋、再穿鞋——哎呦,我们把拉米留在图书馆了——赶紧去随便找点吃的。直到两天后,我们才真正地坐下来聊。不过,这都是治愈的一部分。我本来设想的是一次大张旗鼓的峰会式碰面,最后经历的却是生活——她充实而幸福的生活,以及她让我成为其中的一部分。回来了。

“Thank you,” I said, “for letting me come here.”

“谢谢你,”我说,“谢谢让我来这儿。”

I explained that my purpose was to create a space for her to say whatever she needed to say to me so that I could hear her and apologize without defense or excuse. I offered this not because it was dictated by teshuvah or any of the other apology styles and rituals I had read about in preparation, but rather because, in my own experiences of being aggrieved, it’s what I most wanted.

我解释说,我想为她营造一个空间,让她说出需要对我说的任何话,这样我就可以倾听她的话语,并且不带任何辩护或借口地道歉。我提出这样做,并不是因为它是teshuvah或者我在准备过程中读到的其他道歉方式和仪式所规定的,而是因为,根据我自身的受害经历,这样的方式是我最想要的。

I wanted it from the therapist, who had ended things in a violent way; I wanted it from my parents, and from others who had wronged me and never said sorry. Maybe, I thought, this was a universal longing — to be listened to, rather than apologized at.

我想从我的心理治疗师那里得到它,她以暴力的方式结束了一切;我想从父母那里得到它,也想从那些曾经不公正地对待我,并且从不说对不起的人们那里得到它。我想,或许这是一种普遍的渴望——被人倾听,而不是接受道歉。

She was generous, saying it meant a lot to her that I had come. I was expecting anger, but what she felt, she said, was a deep sadness. She, too, had known that our relationship, in those 14 years, had long been too smothering. But she was sad, almost unthinkably sad, that I left her in the way that I did.

她慷慨地说,我能来这一趟,对她来说很有意义。我本来以为她会愤怒,但她说,她的感受是一种深沉的悲伤。她也知道,在那14年中,我们的关系长期以来一直过于压抑。但我离开她的方式令她非常悲伤,几乎是无法想象的悲伤。

Causing someone sadness is different from causing pain or fear. It’s duller, deeper, and it lasts longer. I sat with those words and felt tremendous remorse. I remembered a photo I had seen of her sitting by a window, some months after I had left her. She was still mostly bald from the chemo, and she stared hard into the camera, her mouth tugged back into a kind of grimace, as if she were swallowing the world. I did that to her, I knew, and more.

令别人悲伤和令别人痛苦或恐惧是不一样的。前者更加阴郁、深沉,而且持续时间更长。我品味着那些话语,感到极度自责。我记得离开她几个月后,我看到一张她坐在窗边的照片。因为化疗,她的头大部分依然是秃的,她狠狠地盯着相机,嘴巴扭曲成一个鬼脸,好像要把整个世界都吞下去。我知道,是我让她变成这样的,我还做了更过分的事情。

The instinct, of course, is to fill the space with language, but I wanted to take the time to bear the full weight of her telling.

当然,我的本能是用语言来填补这个空间,但我想花时间承担她话里的全部重量。

“I’m so sorry,” I finally said, “for causing you such great sadness.”

“我很抱歉,”最后我终于说道,“因为我让你这么悲伤。”

We talked about ways to make amends; I had thought of everything from helping out with her kids to volunteering in cancer wards. But no, she said, the amends were here, in this process.

我们谈到如何弥补;我想过各种方案,从帮她带孩子到去癌症病房做志愿者。但是,不必了,她说,在整个过程中,她已经得到了弥补。

We talked then about teshuvah, my reckoning for why I had done what I did. The truth is, my ex and I had, in effect, grown up together, having started dating when I was 20. In a way, she had parented me. I had grown up with a very sick mother; she gave me the chance to feel loved and protected. But when that love was threatened by her illness, I could only think of rescue, much as I had when I was a child. My therapist offered that to me, and was the one person who, seemingly, would never get sick on me, never die. When I finally left the therapist, I learned what I should have known all along: that I was an adult, capable of standing on my own two feet and responsible for my own decisions.

我们谈到悔罪,谈到我对为何要做这件事情的思考。事实上,我和前妻基本上是一起长大的,我20岁的时候,我俩开始约会。在某种程度上,她充当了我的母亲。我成长期间,母亲病得很严重;前妻让我可以感受到被爱和受保护。但当这种爱受到疾病威胁时,我只想求救,就像我还是小孩子的时候那样。我的心理治疗师提供了这样的救援,而且她看上去似乎是那个永远不会给我带来疾病,也永远不会死的人。最终离开她的时候,我学会了我本应早就知道的东西:我是一个独立自主的成年人,有能力对自己的决定负责任。

“I forgive you,” she said.

“我原谅你,”她说。

My apology process was a lucky one. Not everyone is so magnanimous. But I wondered if our journey could serve as a model.

我的道歉过程很幸运。不是每个人都这么大度。但我想知道我们走过的这条路是否可以作为一个榜样。

Our culture is good at promises — our leaders take oaths, we say “I do” — and we’re good at applying punishments when those promises are broken. But where is the space for real remorse and introspection?

我们的文化擅长作承诺——我们的领袖们总在宣誓,我们说“我愿意”——我们也擅长在承诺被打破时作出惩罚。但是给真正的懊悔和反省的空间在哪里呢?

We live in a Christian nation (resist all you want, but three-quarters of us identify as Christian) and I wonder whether that foists a redemption frame on our apologies. We look to be absolved, forgiven, immediately, the way we look to God. But people are not gods, and I wonder, in this era of facile press-release apologies, whether we need to slow things down.

我们生活在一个基督教国家(你怎么反对都可以,但四分之三的美国人以基督徒自居),而我怀疑这是否在我们的道歉上强加了一个救赎框架。我们期待着立刻被赦免,被原谅,就像我们期待上帝一样。但人不是神,我想知道,在这个充斥着轻松的道歉新闻稿的时代,我们是否需要放慢脚步。

Of course, apologizing for committing a crime is different from apologizing for breaking someone’s heart. But there is some crossover. Perhaps, for example, perpetrators could engage in a more sophisticated manner with the public rather than always slinking off to their private lives to, supposedly, think about their actions. With the #MeToo movement, we’ve rightly made private transgressions and abuses public, in all their painful detail. But after those revelations, we need more than one quick “sorry.” Imagine a dialogue where we witness real reflection and change.

当然,为犯罪道歉和为伤了他人的心道歉不同。但其中也有一些交叉。举例来说,也许犯错的人可以与公众进行更复杂周到的互动,而不总是溜回自己的私生活里,反思自己的行为(像人们认为应该的那样)。在“#我也是”运动中,我们已经正确地把私人的违规和权力滥用行为公之于众,包括它们所有令人痛苦的细节。但在这些揭露之后,我们需要的不止是一个快速的“对不起”。想象一场可以看到真正的反思和改变的对话吧。

Because the truth is, an apology is rarely a private exchange between two people: When you harm one person, you harm many. When I abandoned my wife, I also abandoned my community of friends, who were furious with me. I hurt others, who heard her story and were scared that their lovers could also leave them in a time of need.

因为事实是,道歉很少是两个人之间的私人交流:当你伤害一个人的时候,你伤害了很多人。当我抛弃前妻的时候,我也抛弃了我的朋友们,他们对我感到非常愤怒。我伤害了其他人,他们听了我前妻的故事,害怕他们的爱人也会在他们需要的时候离开他们。

Could this ripple effect work the other direction, too? An intimate relationship can scatter scars. I hope that an intimate apology, made public, can heal them.

这种涟漪效应会不会反过来也有效呢?亲密的关系会散布伤痕。我希望公开的亲密道歉能治愈伤痕。

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