I have a habit of apologizing. I apologize a lot. About everything. Well, not so much anymore, but its been a long road of learning.
My propensity to apologize over everything was pointed out to me by a friend a little over a year and a half ago. “You start a lot of sentences with ‘I’m sorry’ and often apologize for things that don’t necessarily require an apology.” Truth.
I am an insanely honest person. I have no trouble telling it like it is or giving my opinion when asked. I hardly ever start a sentence with “I’m sorry but…” because A- “but” negates the “I’m sorry” and B- I am usually not sorry for my opinion. I do however seem to be sorry for everything I personally feel that has to do with myself, personally. For example, I say “I’m sorry” instead of “excuse me” all the time. If I am coming out of a door while someone is trying to get in, I’ll say “Oh, I’m sorry” even though I have nothing to be sorry about and really I just needed to say excuse me. Apologizing when I should be saying excuse me is like apologizing for being in a certain space. What? Exactly. And it’s a funny thing; if someone doesn’t like my opinion, especially if they asked me specifically for this opinion, I don’t care. But if I think a complete stranger hates me because we both want to use the door at the same time, I get all concerned. I know the latter situation says more about them than it does me and that is exactly why I am working on these issues. Sometimes, I have actually found myself apologizing for apologizing.
Thank God for therapy!
I had long forgotten that conversation with my friend until a conversation I was having with my therapist about positive changes I have recently made. She noted that I have mostly stopped apologizing for every feeling I have and for every situation I am in. She said that when I first started seeing her I would begin most sentences with “I’m sorry that…” and it almost always had to do with how I felt about a particular situation. (Note: particular situation=R2 for about six months!) This happened all the time during my marathon training. I was always apologizing to R2 because I didn’t order a drink or have dessert or stay up late. By by making time for my training and specifically my long runs, I felt like I was letting him down. It was in the weeks leading up to my race that my friend made her comment about my constant apologizing. I wasn’t drinking leading up to the race and we were out to dinner. I apologized to her for not ordering a drink. She asked why I was sorry and I didn’t have an answer. I was just so accustomed to apologizing for everything that I was at the point of apologizing out of habit. I did not need to apologize because I didn’t want dessert. Or because I couldn’t stay out late due to an early morning run.
Unfortunately, unlearning something is much easier than learning. Apologizing became a habit; I was already an over-apologizer and my relationship with R2 just exacerbated it. I have learned through talking it out that often my apologizing is a way of looking for validation. For someone to say “it’s okay.” I know now, I really wanted (read:needed) to hear “its okay” and sometimes the only way I got that was to apologize. I know now, I do not need to be validated. At least not in that way.
Apologies are now saved for times when I have to act with class and maturity and truly express regret. If I come out of the door the same time someone is going in…well, that is just happenstance. Definitely not something I regret or have to feel sorry about. And when I WANTED to go to bed early, get up early or skip dessert even though R2 didn’t like it, I shouldn’t have been made to feel bad about it. Yet, I apologized because R2 made me feel selfish for making these decisions. I know there is a big difference between being selfish and just making different choices.
I am happy to say that I am not apologizing for nothing as much these days. Probably because I don’t hang out with or date people that make me feel bad for living and not having to apologize for my choices has translated into not having to apologize for everything I do. To see if my therapist and I were right, I asked my friend what she thought about my change. We had dinner last night and I straight up asked her if she noticed a difference. Her response: “Definitely!” She even noted when we headed to the bar and myself and another person were headed for the same seat…aha!…we bumped accidentally and I said, “excuse me” instead of “I’m sorry.”
Like everything else, it is a work in progress…but it is still progress!
I worked for a long time on this post and it still seems scattered to me. Sometimes I have so much to say about something that I end up all over the place with it. I would apologize for that, but then I would just be defeating the whole purpose of the post. Instead, I’ll just post it and let it be 🙂