I apologize. A lot. Too damn much. It’s burned so deeply and fundamentally into my being that it comes out involuntarily, even when I bump into an inanimate object, I say I’m sorry. “Sorry doorway that I walked into because I am so clumsy, I hope that won’t leave a mark.” WHAT IS THAT? “sorry sorry sorry sorry.” A gut reaction to so many things, that recently when we were out somewhere walking, somebody walked into me, and I blurted out, “sorry. My husband said, “stop apologizing, why do you apologize so much?’
WHY DO I APOLOGIZE SO MUCH?
There are two different things here. Apologizing as in the above scenarios, of just gut reacting and saying, “I’M SORRY” without really thinking about it but fundamentally thinking I must be in the wrong, if even unconsciously; and then the second much more serious belief that I am wrong. ALL THE TIME. Even when I’m clearly not.
I see other women doing this too. It’s a thing and we need to be more mindful of it as it will get passed right on to our little ones if we’re not careful.
Where does that come from? I know as a woman, from an early age unfortunately, I was taught to be polite. To respect authority and elders and others in general. Which is great in concept, but can ultimately wind up hurting us as we get older and struggle to find out voice. To find our courage and convictions. Being polite and apologizing for ourselves are two different things and we need to separate them more.
Little girls don’t talk back. They don’t question. They keep the peace and they don’t look for trouble. Now, I don’t blame my mom as this is what she was taught and this is what she knew to show me in turn.
Both my mom and I have worked extremely hard in recent years to claim our voice and our power and now we may go a bit in the opposite direction of not apologizing for our views, but it’s empowering to finally have the lady balls to say, I’m not sorry. This is what I think and feel and goddammit you are going to hear it. Or at least I’m going to say it, I’m not responsible for your reaction to it. My husband will be the first to tell you that sometimes I am so stubborn about NOT admitting fault, it can be infuriating as I do it just on principle to fight the apologetic reaction. That makes sense, right?
There’s a definite shift in society from when I was little to now. The shift is that authority figures are questioned now instead of children. I know we will encounter this more and more as the babies grow up, but it used to be if a doctor or a teacher said to do something or said something about your kid, YOU LISTENED TO THEM and heeded their advice. Now, it’s become more a thing to listen to your kid and question the authority figures.
I remember in high school a few scenarios where my mom went to battle for me. One where a male gym teacher was being inappropriate with girls in his classes (who wound up being fired thanks in part to my mom) and another where I was being bullied by older girls. She stepped up, out of her comfort zone and GOT SHIT DONE.
I hope I have the courage to act as she did in times that require it. I am an advocate for my family. I need to be able to step up and fight with courage and absolutely defend my kids. But that doesn’t mean they are never in the wrong.
I hope we can find a balance and question both sides. My kids aren’t always going to be right or even tell me the truth. I get that. So I need to investigate all sides. But I need to listen to my kids. I need to listen to MYSELF and not think I must be wrong just because somebody implies that I am.
I drank for a long time because I couldn’t process my feelings. Feelings of inadequacy and feeling less than and not having enough courage to do anything about that. Today, I have lady balls and enough self-knowledge to know that I’m not always wrong. That gut reaction thing is something I’m more aware of and can try my best to work on changing that. That internal programming that happened for most of my life CAN CHANGE.
I don’t fault my mom at all. She came from a different time and my daughter will be in a much different time as she grows up. I am keenly aware of my character defects and hope to not pass them on to my children. They need a strong role model and guess what? It’s not anybody in the entertainment business or a professional athlete that has the most influence. It’s me and it’s their father that will fundamentally shape them as my parents shaped me.
I don’t want my kids seeing or hearing that their mother had a gut reaction to apologize or feel less than. I quit drinking and all the feelings were left there to deal with. I battle every day to handle my shit. Now I’ve got to handle the world’s shit for my children. I am up to the task. Even when it’s really really really really hard and my gut instinct is to hide and think I might be wrong, I need to start trusting my gut. Which is really difficult as my gut was wrong for a long long time.
Not being sorry is not enough. It’s a start. Empowering and trusting what we feel is more. It’s better. It’s right.
Being sober is a gift, learning to trust myself and my wiring for the first time in my life is treacherous. I am ever mindful that I am an alcoholic. That may or may not be passed onto my children, I have zero control over that, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to encourage them hiding their feelings or having them feel like they have to apologize for exactly who they are. In that way, I hope I am teaching them to FEEL ALL THE FEELINGS and not ever need to drink them away. Apologizing and owning your shit are all fine and good when it’s required. Just being a human feeling being doing does not require a sorry.
I’m going to start catching myself more when I’m about to say “I’m sorry” or I feel like I’m wrong about something that I don’t need to be. Instead of saying, “I’m sorry” I’m simply going to say, “I am” and really try to figure out what the hell I am because chances are it’s not sorry.
We’ve got work to do, ladies. These little forming beings need us to be at our best.
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