“I’m sorry” are words too many survivors will sadly never hear. I never heard them. Ever. Narcissists don’t apologize. They project their guilt onto their prey. I’ve often contemplated writing the apologies I needed to hear, but the words never formed in my head because I’ve never been able to comprehend why anyone would choose to be evil or why so many chose me as their prey. I get it now.
Eve Ensler once again hits it way out of the park with The Apology. It’s a very quick read loaded with Ms. Ensler’s brilliant insights and wisdom. Her story is our story. She was horrifically abused by her father Arthur Ensler sexually, physically, financially, and emotionally. He’s been dead for decades, and Ms. Ensler needed an apology from him. So, she wrote it herself. I found it profoundly liberating. The book is decades of therapy packed into 112 pages.
My narcissism triumphed over my ability to care.
– “Arthur Ensler,” The Apology
Today, May 25, is Eve Ensler’s 66th birthday. This book review is my celebration of her life and enduring inspiration. She has consistently served as a life raft in turbulent waters, given me hope, and brought me joy. I will be forever grateful to her for these bits of wisdom about narcissistic, abusive parents embedded in her father’s apology ~ the apology I needed from my own mother:
I dreamed in many ways of the life you have lived. . .I am all too tragically aware of who you would have been ~ confident, secure in your memory and intelligence, happy, living inside your body. I saw who you were before I worked my destruction. . .why I had to hurt you so badly, hobble you at the knees from the beginning. . .no way I was going to let you go beyond me, show me up as the fraud or failure I was.
What spirit lived in you, what grit, what valor?
I was jealous of you.
I begrudged your audacity.
“Arthur Ensler,” The Apology
After she graduated at the top of her class and gave the commencement speech, her dad gave her a check for $1,000 and said, “Have a good life, Eve.”
It was a gut punch to your future. . .I dropped a close-range missile and leveled you. . .This moment would forever shatter your confidence. . .Every victory thereafter would be glazed with rejection. . .I wanted you to fail.
Your mother could not understand this. Why, she would ask, would you spend all that money on Eve’s college education and then undermine her consistently? It made no sense. But there was a fiendish logic. The more independent you became, the more successful, the less control I had of you. . .I needed to disable you.
I made you feel like you were the one
who had done something terribly wrong.
“Arthur Ensler,” The Apology
Ms. Ensler hopes the book will inspire abusive men to apologize. She told TIME:
Sixteen thousand years of patriarchy, and I don’t know that I’ve ever heard a real, public apology from a man.
As y’all probably know, Ms. Ensler wrote the Vagina Monologues and founded V-Day which has morphed into One Billion Rising. Coinciding with the book release and building upon years of work with survivors, activists and anti-violence groups, V-Day has launched theapologybook.net as an online space for readers, activists and survivors to process and explore the themes raised in the book, for perpetrators to begin their own processes of accountability and apology, and for survivors to write imagined apologies and offer themselves healing.
It’s Eve’s birthday, but we got the gift! Thank you, Eve.