We’ve been apologizing for as long as I can remember. Saying sorry to anyone who happens to see you on a hard day. Cowering to the people who consider our existence an inconvenience. Trying to soothe the awkwardness of those around us when we are flaring.
From the first time I was brought into the Emergency Department, “I’m sorry.” “Sorry.” “I’m so sorry to bother you.” I’m sorry for this.” was peppered throughout my tortured explanations of pain. My immediate reaction to being in agony or having a major symptom flare is to apologize to anyone nearby. In the midst of agony or a physical revolt, I can barely form words but the ones that come out clear are phrases of contrition. Somehow, I’m to blame for my busted body. It’s my responsibility to keep my shit together. When the dam breaks and I’m flooded with EVERYTHING, I’m barely able to maintain consciousness and I’ll still eek out a “sorry”.
“It’s okay” or “I know” are the common replies. Embedded in those words are threads of guilt. It’s the thinly veiled belief that you are out of control and imposing on their time out of weakness.
I’d love to say that I’m working on this flaw. But, I’m not. It is so deeply programmed into my psyche that I don’t even hear myself saying it until I’m buried under “forgive me”. If you have the fortitude and awareness to not apologize for simply going through a difficult moment, I urge you to keep it up. Your strength and self-worth are admirable traits. We don’t need to say sorry for having a broken body. Being polite and kind are different than flogging yourself while you are already suffering. We need to offer ourselves a bit of grace and room to be a mess when we need it.