I do not recall ever hearing told what my first word was. I suspect that I know.
If it indeed was not the first it has certainly been the most repeated.
It has taken me an awfully long time to recognize that I have lived most of my life as an apology. There have been countless things that I have been sorry for. That is not the ground of my suffering. What grieved me the most was being sorry for simply being. For not being good enough. For not doing enough. For not being what others wanted me to be. On and on. Sorry, sorry, sorry. There was a time I contemplated renting a billboard with my picture and the word: SORRY.
I did not rent that billboard. And slowly I have recognized that my constant state of apology had little to do with anyone else but me. I am not responsible for the initial imprinting of that “sorry state of being.” I am, however, responsible to it. I am the only one who can change it. I am the only one who can stop habitually saying I am sorry for who I am and for how I express. I am the only one who can stop taking on and apologizing for other people’s programs and interpretations. Why do I say I am sorry for stories that others are initiating and perpetuating? Why do I apologize when others hurt me? Why do I feel the need to grovel when I show up honestly and authentically?
Someone once said to me “you sure say I am sorry a lot.”
To which I replied, “I am sorry.”
I am sorry I have been sorry so often.
I grew up in the “Love Story” generation. I heard repeatedly “love means never having to say I am sorry.” Nice sentiment. Great movie making. Never resonated for me. My catch phrase was more like “love means always having to say I am sorry.”
I am not an apology.
I am no longer sorry for being me.
I will continue this imperfect journey through time and space reality. I will mess up. I will miss the mark. I will say things I wish I had not said. I will act in ways I will regret. I will be sorry for those unconscious acts. I will sincerely apologize, and I will amend my behavior.
I will no longer, however, be sorry for being me. I will not take on others hurts when I was merely a character in their story. I will maintain responsibility for what happens in here, and I will offer others the same invitation. If I express my authentic perspective, in as kind a way as possible, I will not be sorry for your reaction. I will also not expect you to apologize to me when I am triggered by what I make your words and actions mean about me.
And I will not apologize unless I am really, truly sorry.
Knowing I am not an apology makes apologizing far less scary and ever more sincere.
I have reflected much upon this topic during these months of distancing. I concluded that I have never received a sincere, heart-felt apology that I did not accept. I have had cases where I needed to remove people from my direct sphere. Those individuals, however, did not offer any kind of real apology. They gave no indication that they were sorry, or that they would amend their behavior. Even in a few cases when I was deeply hurt, a sincere sorry became a bridge back to connection.
And so, I am offering that kind of sincere apology to me. I am sorry that I lived so sorry, for so long. I am sorry that I took on so much of others pain. I am sorry I made it about me. I am sorry for altering my authentic expression in an effort to be what others wanted me to be. I am sorry for not being sorry for being so sorry. That sincere apology reconnects me to me. It is my bridge. My bridge back to an unapologetic me.
Wafts of habitual energy arise as I contemplate what I have shared. How long I have gone on. How raw and unfiltered and exposed I have been. I start to feel a constriction in my throat as some far too familiar words begin to form.
No, I am not.
I may not recall what my first word was. I may suspect what it could have been. And it will not be how I close this missive. Not this time. Not now.