Last week I was playing pool with a couple friends. I took a break to drink some water, sit down, and watch. I wouldn't say I’m bad at pool, but I wouldn’t say anything else either.
When my friends finished their game they came over to me. I was sitting against one friend’s jacket that was on the back of my chair. When he went to grab it, I said, “Oh, I’m so sorry.”
He looked at me and said, “Nope. Not accepting that. Because you have nothing to be sorry for.”
You know what I said back, “I know, I’m sorry.”
I was sorry for being sorry.
Which really means I’m sorry you noticed me. I’m sorry I’m here. I’m sorry I’m taking up space. I’m sorry I inconvenienced you. I’m sorry I exist.
“I’m so sorry.”
Because at some point in my childhood I picked up that life is a lot easier if you aren’t noticed and things are safer if you apologize when you are.
When I write this tears swell my eyes.
Because it feels so true.
That to be safe you must go unseen.
That if someone yells at you, even when you did nothing wrong, you must say you’re sorry for it to stop.
If your partner cheats on you, you must say you're sorry for making him want to do that in the first place.
When you express how you feel, and it makes someone uncomfortable, you say you’re sorry to apologize for having feelings in the first place.
Does this sound like you, too?
You’re not alone.
Most sensitive people learned at a young age that there are things that hurt in this world, things to be afraid of, authority figures to hide from.
Drunk dads to get to stop yelling.
Co-dependent Mom’s to help feel better.
Teachers that didn’t like your handwriting.
Classmates that thought the sandwich you brought for lunch smelled funny.
“I’m sorry,” were the magic words.
Words that soothed. Words that helped. Words that might get you to make it another day.
After my friend told me I had nothing to be sorry for, and then I said I was sorry for being sorry, and he looked at me and said, “Ana, you’re amazing. Stop apologizing for it.” I cried. Because beneath “I’m sorry,” is my pain. My fear. My hurt.
“I’m sorry,” is my wall. My shield. My everything.
“I’m sorry,” is all I’ve ever known.
And that night showed me that it’s safe to change that. It’s safe to let go of my apologies.
“I’m sorry,” is my gateway to my soul.
Beneath “I’m sorry” is the little girl who is afraid.
The one who feels uncomfortable posting anything personal on social media. The one hates it when I say I’m psychic. The one who’d prefer to not go to a party at all. The one who wants to stay in bed. The one who learned that submissive was best. Apologies crucial. That to be loved you must be quiet.
Beneath the “I’m sorry” is the daughter of an angry father.
The woman in a world that prefers its women to be small.
A sensitive girl growing up in an insensitive society.
The pain of what it was, and is like, to be her.
If you are resonating with this at all, I urge you to go deeper.
Notice when you apologize.
Notice if it’s warranted.
Notice if everyday you feel uncomfortable checking out at the grocery store, taking too long to find your debit card, forgetting your re-usable bags.
Do you apologize when the friggen' chip card reader doesn’t work?
Are you sorry when you cry?
And know that beneath the “I’m sorry” is probably a little girl begging to be seen. She is scared. And lonely. And drowning in how sorry she is.
She needs your help.
Because there is a part of you that is ready to show up.
Ready to take up space.
Ready to stop fucking apologizing for everything.
She needs you.
Take some time to sit with her.
Ask her what she needs.
It will be scary.
But it is time.
It is time to stop saying you’re sorry.
For being you.
Because you is exactly who we need right now.