No One Owes You An Apology To Heal

In the process of working through my own pain, I've also learned there's freedom in letting go.


One Saturday afternoon, I sat across my psychologist and informed her I was going to seek out my parents. I had been estranged from them the majority of my life, but I wanted to confront them about my childhood.

"Oh, you are?" my psychologist asked with slight surprise. She continued, "And what do you hope to accomplish?"

I told her I wanted answers and accountability. I wanted them to acknowledge my childhood was a shitty mess, and I wanted an explanation for why. I felt I deserved closure.

"And what if they don't take any accountability or feel the need to explain anything?" my psychologist responded. She went on, "What will you do then?"


You see, I didn't account for that. I just assumed my parents would open up and, at least, try to defend their horrible choices. I believed there would be a smoking gun, and I could see who they really were and walk away with confirmation of what I was dealing with all that time. Then, I would be able to make peace with that chapter of my life and move on. At that moment, my therapist said words that changed the way I view closure.

"They don't owe you anything."

I was taken aback and puzzled. She just told me that the people that gave me life don't owe me anything for royally screwing it up. I had to sit with that for a minute. She went on to explain that she sees people every day that seek out closure from someone, and they never get it. Sometimes, the people they are seeking apologies from pass away before they get a chance to address them. Other times, those people just don't meet expectations in how they show up for the situation.

"But ultimately," she said, "Your healing lies in your hands."

Processing that response from my psychologist was a profound revelation for me. And an ego-crusher at that. You see, several things happen when we are waiting for an apology from someone else.

First, we're giving them the power to say when we get to heal.


If there's one thing I learned, it's that an apology could never give me the permission I need to heal from the emotional damage my parents caused me. Nor should it.

Expecting someone else to dictate when we can move on from a situation based on their ability to apologize is a recipe for disaster.

Because if we never get the apology we believe we deserve, we'll be stuck in limbo––unable to move on from the hurt the situation caused. The best thing we can do for ourselves is to recognize and accept that the situation couldn't have been any different and leave it at that.

Second, we're feeding our ego.

There's a sense of entitlement that comes with knowing you are 'owed' something. It's often part of the reason why we seek out an apology from individuals that have hurt us. In my case, I believed my parents owed me because they gave me life, thus bringing me into their mess. Of course, it's only natural to feel this way when you've been wronged.

But, let's look at this thing another way. Maybe the person you're seeking an apology from doesn't have the level of self-esteem or strength to apologize. Perhaps they don't have the tools to confront the issue and own up to their mistake. Moving on without an apology does require checking your ego to ensure you're not holding on to something that is truly holding you down.

Third, we're unintentionally letting that situation infect every relationship in our lives.


This is probably the biggest consequence of holding onto the expectation of an apology. Many of us are walking around with bruised egos and broken spirits, not realizing we're contaminating every relationship we have with emotional pain stemming from one.

For many years, I found it hard to put trust in people. Occasionally, I even found myself questioning their motives. For me to stop letting a painful situation influence all my relationships, I had to become more aware. I've learned to intentionally approach every relationship with a blank slate.

In the process of working through my own pain, I've also learned there's freedom in letting go. Accepting there will be no apology does not mean the way you were treated was OK. It merely means you've released yourself from the strong hold the situation has over your life.

Although I've had these revelations over time, I've still struggled with the art of letting go. What I have discovered are tools to help me move along in the healing process to provide the closure I need. One of those tools has been to write a letter, which is extremely therapeutic. You don't even have to send it. Read it aloud as if you were reading it to the person who hurt you. It really works wonders when you put it all out there in a well thought-out fashion.

Lastly, I've had to understand that the journey through pain and forgiveness is not supposed to be linear.

It ebbs and flows and takes some serious reflection. But ultimately, the lesson that I learned which I want to share is the journey through healing is all up to me. It's a singular process. I don't need that apology––nor do you.

Life will move right along just fine without it.

Join our xoTribe, an exclusive community dedicated to YOU and your stories and all things xoNecole. Be a part of a growing community of women from all over the world who come together to uplift, inspire, and inform each other on all things related to the glow up.

Featured image by Shutterstock.

When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.

Featured image by Getty Images

The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

Jamie Foxx and his daughter Corinne Foxx are one of Hollywood’s best father-daughter duos. They’ve teamed up together on several projects including Foxx’s game show Beat Shazam where they both serve as executive producers and often frequent red carpets together. Corinne even followed in her father’s footsteps by taking his professional last name and venturing into acting starring in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged and Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times as Thelma.

Keep reading...Show less

TW: This article may contain mentions of suicide and self-harm.

In early 2022, the world felt like it slowed down a bit as people digested the shocking news of beauty pageant queen Cheslie Kryst, who died by suicide. When you scroll through her Instagram, the photos she had posted only weeks before her death were images of her smiling, looking happy, and being carefree. You can see photos of her working, being in front of the camera, and doing what I imagine was her norm. These pictures and videos, however, began to spark a conversation among Black women who knew too well that feeling like you're carrying the world on your shoulders and forcing yourself to smile through it all to hide the pain.

Keep reading...Show less

Ironically enough—considering the way the word begins—the love-hate relationship that we have with menstruation is comparable to the way in which we navigate the world of men. It’s very much “can’t live with it, can’t live without it” vibes when it comes to women and their cycles. But the older I get, the more I learn to hate that time of the month a little less. A lot of my learning to embrace my period has come with learning the fun, interesting, and “witchy” stuff while discovering more natural, in-tune ways of minimizing the pain in my ass (those cramps know no bounds) amongst other places.

Keep reading...Show less

SZA is no stranger to discussing her mental health struggles and her experiences with anxiety. In 2021, the “Good Days” singer tweeted about having “debilitating anxiety” that causes her to shield away from the public. Unfortunately, she still has those same struggles today and opened up about it during Community Voices 100th episode for Mental Health Awareness Month. While SZA enjoys making music, she’s not a fan of the spotlight, which may be surprising to many.

Keep reading...Show less
Exclusive Interviews
Latest Posts