I had a terrible dream last night. It’s awfully morbid and I don’t even want to write the words but I was sick, then diagnosed and far too quickly, deceased. This is the point where I want to apologize because it’s Sunday morning and there is already enough sadness and grief and you didn’t tune in here to have to deal with that. However, in my dream I finally saw myself as one of my worst habits – the chronic apology.
It is not unusual for me to say “I am sorry” dozens of times per day and I mean it each time too. I am sorry for being in the way (taking up to much space, breathing, gesticulating with my hands too often). I am sorry for talking too much (always, especially when I am nervous) and for not finding the right words to say. I am even sorry for not knowing what you are thinking (before you tell me). I have started and ended a sentence with an apology. The same sentence.
I woke up today incredibly melancholy until I realized maybe that was a death that I needed, maybe I didn’t need that crutch ever but I definitely don’t need it now. I will not be apologizing for not knowing the answers any longer. If I want to help you find what you’re looking for, I will, without chastising myself first. When asked what exactly I plan to do after a few short weeks when I have both kids in school all day I am going to stop a beat and let that sit there. I have fallen prey to the trap of explaining my choices and what I was thinking that led me to a specific selection. I have done that for too long, using untold amounts of energy from a very young age on trying to justify my thoughts, my feelings, myself. I’m unsure how many other people are in that situation; a foxhole we can’t manage to climb out of that we shoveled ourselves.
My husband was retelling a story one night about a group practicing scuba diving in a pool, pointing out to the group that if they were frustrated and struggling they should just stand up and their heads would be out of water. How simple. If you are underwater (or otherwise in a situation you find incompatible with life) and you are able, you need only to stand up. No, I don’t want to assist the Parent Teacher Organization. I think it’s great that you sit on your kid’s school’s board. I tried it and I don’t want to do it again. Yes, yes I do plan to take a year to write. I think it’s great that you know only the really smart and funny bloggers make any money doing it and yes, you are also right that I am making no money doing it today. I don’t owe anyone an apology for their feelings about how I should gage my own worth. I get to decide that. Just. Stand. Up.
I am rerouting all the time I have spent being sorry. I am sending it towards showing the people I really love how I feel about them. So that those cumulative actions envelope them. It’s the same principle that replaces buying a daily coffee for a few dollars with taking that same bit of money to finally start that 401K. Except even in the coffee analogy, you were getting a coffee, punishing yourself yields exactly no benefits, I promise.
I am going to take better care of myself, replacing the doubt and insecurity with the bracing of what I do know to be nourishing and regenerative. If all that was left of me was my words, would they say anything much right now? She was sorry, but she was trying…I find that legacy wholly unacceptable. I demand more of myself.
There are obvious differences between being untethered and being reckless. I am not eliminating the possibility of apologies. I am human and prone to making human decisions. Some of which actually do warrant an explanation and possibly an admission of regret. I want to mine that vague space that falls under that umbrella of “I’m working on it”. A work-in-progress is defined by both working and progressing, by you reading this I feel as though I am doing both, thank you for that.