Fresh Living

Apologizing–a very desperate habit–one that is rarely cured.  Apology is only
egotism wrong side out.” 
– Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Professor at the Breakfast-Table

My name is Valerie and I’m an apology addict.

Hello, Valerie.

I had no idea how bad it was. On Wednesday I posted on my one-week experiment in not apologizing for anything unless I’ve actually caused harm. Day one went well. I slipped once while telling a friend I wasn’t sure I could follow through on some plans. I started to say “I’m sorry,” and she caught me: “You’re not apologizing this week.” Thanks, Sarah.

But today I fell off the wagon. Hard. Five times. I apologized five times today. Five! But it’s fascinating to shine a light on them to see what exactly I’m doing with this stuff.

1) I ran into a colleague with whom I’d had some recent business snafus. Instant feelings of shame. We said “Hi” and within two minutes I was apologizing for something about the cream cheese we were spreading on our bagels. I used too much? Something. I noticed I apologized for my brain. I often apologize for my scrambled words by blaming my brain. It is odd.

2) At a cafe a woman set her bag down at my table while I was up getting utensils. My salad was right there and so was my tote. But instead of saying, “Excuse me, that’s where I’m sitting,” I pointed and said, “I’m sorry.” Meaning, “Move it, lady.”

3) When an elevator door opened the man in the couple standing next to me gestured for me and his ladyfriend to go ahead. I charged forth in my New Yorky way, then realized she should probably be going first, with being his ladyfriend and all. I stopped, backtracked, apologized, and when she hesitated went first anyway.

4) The only necessary apology, though I may have overdone it. I misread my clock–by an entire hour which is insane because anyone who knows me at all knows I’m ridiculously punctual 98.9 percent of the time–and was 45 minutes late for a business meeting. Horrified, I apologized multiple times in a phone message and then a couple of times in person. Wanted to say it even more, but stopped myself, remembering that apologizing excessively does not make you less late or rude and is really an attempt to reverse the flow of sympathy to yourself to wriggle free of guilt. Good stuff!

5) In said meeting I scrambled my words and once again apologized for the state of my brain.

Who knew? But I won’t apologize for apologizing. Just observing. Luckily after tomorrow I’ll be alone for a few days in a little cabin. And I’m pretty good about not apologizing to myself, but maybe I’ll do it out of sheer, addicted necessity? Or just “egotism wrong side out”? We’ll see. 

Any of this sound familiar? Are you are sorry-a-holic too? 

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