December 11th, 2018
"I'm sorry" should be my middle name. They are the words most often spoken by me. It's my go-to. And the thing is, I an actually sincere about it. When I say, "I'm sorry", I really am sorry. Even if it isn't something that I did wrong, if something unfortunate or ill-timed or just plain awful happened, I truly am sorry. I guess I am very empathetic, sympathetic by nature. Still anything can be over done.
Hello my name is Sam and I'm an apology-aholic.
It can get to the point of ridiculous. I have apologized to posts I have clipped with my shoulder walking by, the mail when I dropped it on the ground, the lizard I tried to catch and put OUTSIDE the house, and the lady who crashed into the back of me with her little scooter thingie in the grocery store aisle. What's that now? She ran into me and I apologized to her. WHAT? Yup that is exactly what happened. I was slowly walking down the aisle looking for my favourite soup and I was banged from behind by this lady's electric people mover thingie, I said 'Ouch" and turned toward her in surprise. "Then get out of my way" she said very angrily. "I'm sorry" I said and moved to the side. I clearly have a problem. Maybe what I meant was "I'm sorry you are such a miserable human being!"
I have always had a kind heart. It's one of the few things about myself that I can honestly say without being disengenuous. It is a true thing. And I don't think it is necessarily a bad thing. Oh I've had to tough up a bit over the years and not give away every penny I have to every pan handler I pass on the street...things like that. But for the most part, I actually think it's a good quality to have kind heart.
And I honestly am sorry when someone is sad, even if I'm not the one who made them sad. And when they are angry, even when I'm not the one who made them angry. And usually people can tell that I am being genuine when I say, "I am so very sorry" to them. They understand that what I'm actually saying is that I sincerely care that they are having a bad moment, a bad experience, a bad day. Most people appreciate the gesture.
But some people get mad when I apologize. 'Why are you apologizing" they shout at me, "this has nothing to do with you!" And then I am forced into the bizarre situation where I am apologizing for having apologized. And that doesn't improve the situation at all.
I have learned over the years that sometimes a hug is better than saying I'm sorry. A gentle squeeze of the hand, a pat on the shoulder can often say that I care without having actually said a word.
But it's hard, very hard, for a person like me to stop saying "I'm sorry". Especially when we mean it. Especially when it is, apparently, typed right on our DNA to feel apologetic for everything. Well not everything. I used to say that I only take responsibility for things that happened from 1953 forward. Anything before '53 is someone else's issue. That's coz I was born in 1953 and apparently I came into this word carrying an unusually heavy load of responsibility. The angels didn't hand me grace or artistic ability or a beautiful singing voice when I stood in that line. Nope, instead I was given compassion by the bucketful. I used to say that I was given guilt, but I don't think that is actually it. I don't feel responsible for anything I didn't do, but I do care. I care a lot.
Yesterday in the bank, I deposited a check. The person who wrote the check to me got a little carried away writing on that little memo line and wrote over the code numbers that normally the bank machine scans. In this case, the machine was unable to scan it. The bank teller sighed and said, "It's going to be a few more minutes because I have to hand-enter all of the numbers (which were hard to read) because of the writing." Predictably, I said, "I'm sorry". The bank teller looked up at me surprised, then she smiled, relaxed and said, 'Hey you didn't do it". I laughed and said, "No, but I'm sorry that your job was made more difficult today". She smiled even bigger and said, "Thank you". See! That's how it works.
I think most people know when a person is sincere with what sounds like an apology. I know that with some folks it's automatic. It's just the correct words to say when someone else is upset and there is absolutely zero emotion behind it. Like saying, "Bless you" when someone sneezes. But when people like me say "I'm sorry", we actually mean it.
I guess of all of the so-called bad "habits" a person can have, being an apology-aholic is not the absolute worst one in the world. And quite honestly, I can't change that about myself anyway. It's just who I am. And you know what? I'm actually NOT sorry about that.
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Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.