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.