Sunday, 27 July 2014

Who is it that has made you feel as though you have to apologise for everything, as if you have to apologise for your very existence?

Yesterday I worked for 10 hours. That is a fact and it isn't something I'm complaining about, it's a statement. I think that sometimes stress can inject itself into statements which can come across as complaints, when actually it's more about the stress of someone being late to take you off at the end of your shift or because you've worked 7.75 hours straight without a break and you're tired. I think that people sometimes want to make you believe that you shouldn't ever feel any emotion at all, when really you are allowed to feel whatever you feel about anything.

The thing that struck me yesterday, when I was working, was the amount of apologies I spewed, and the amount of times I thought "don't screw up" or that I mustn't do anything wrong, and it wasn't until I apologised to a colleague for the fifth time, about something that wasn't even due an apology, that he said "who is it that has made you feel as though you have to apologise for everything, as if you have to apologise for your very existence?" - of course, the question put me on the spot a bit, so I reached for the only phrase I know; I'm fine, and uttered a phrase including this, to try and change the subject. However, I think that phrase is morphing into something that indicates the polar opposite of the meaning cited.

For all intents and purposes, and to the naked eye, I am fine. I'm a nearly-third-year student studying psychology, I work at a petrol station 'to get the pennies in', I go to the gym, I participate in dance classes and yes, I'll grab a drink with someone to engage in a catch up. I live with my parents, I drive my car... those things tick all the right boxes for whatever the societal normal appears to be. But I am not the societal normal, I am not even slightly normal, and part of me thinks that maybe, that is okay and that I am me and I am allowed to take time out to just be.

But there is also a voice in my ear that says, that is definitely not what you are allowed to do.

What my colleague asked me was actually more prominent than perhaps he or I realised in the moment. Why do I feel the need to continually apologise for everything I do? If this is the case, and this is how I feel, am I essentially apologising for breathing the air I breathe and taking up the space that I do in this world? I think that when you think about it like that, something - for me anyway - kind of shifts and you begin to think; why? Why do I need to do that? When did I learn to do that? Who from? Why did I have to learn it? Did someone tell me to say sorry all the time? Did someone tell me that I am a horrible person? Did someone teach me? Who? Questions start falling through the cracks, like when you pull the stick out of kerplunk and all the marbles cascade down all at once. That's what has happened in my head. It's either everything, or nothing at all.

Maybe knowing the answer to these questions is the first step, or an important step I need to take, anyway. It won't fix everything, or fix anything, but it might help me recognise when I apologise, and why, and so I can work on that, and not the apology itself (because that can lead to beating yourself up about a whole host of other things). Perhaps I need to ask myself that question every time I apologise, and I can start piecing myself together a bit more.

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