Apologizing is hard. Saying “thank you” is hard, at least it is for me, sometimes, when the debt is big. Both “I’m sorry” and “Thank you” leave the sayer, at least me, vulnerable. Both are some type of social debt. For someone, me again, who has questioned their worth, “I’m sorry” and “thank you” and “please, can you?” are risky.
Apologizing is frequently as a result of a breach of social contract. Apologizing puts a person into a vulnerable position by submitting to the other person’s …selfhood. The other person has the right to deny the apology. “No. You have no right to my forgiveness.” “You are not good enough for my forgiveness.” That is what terrifies me the most I think.
There are also different kinds of apologies. There is the “Oops, I’m sorry I stopped short in front of you,” the casual, “I’m sorry,” and there is the “I’m sorry. I screwed up. I did not accurately take into account your feelings. I require your forgiveness” It is this latter one that leaves me feeling the most vulnerable because I screwed up. I am not perfect. I do not know the right things to do, or say. I am still learning. And what happens when that apology is not accepted?
Thank yous are also problematic when it is a big thank you, like when your Mom fronts the cost of new tires. (Thanks Mom) Again, for me, it is a question of self-worth, like I have to do, or be, or say something, to make myself more worthy of new tires. I am lucky in that I have parents who can, and do, help me if and when I require it and yet I feel horribly guilty and unworthy every single time. I feel the need to repay Mom every time and I feel stressed to the point where I almost wish I owed a credit card company or even did without the new tires. I should be overwhelmed with gratitude, and I am, but at times I also feel near tears because I cannot yet manage all on my own. I’m in my mid-30s damnit. It is right that I repay my Mom but man do I hate being in debt. Being in debt and feeling unworthy of that debt…that I am not good enough, hard working enough…no matter how hard I work I barely make ends meet. Is this what being an adult is? Is this what a “millennial” is? I’m in my mid-30s damnit.
What about feeling the need to both apologize and say “thank you” at the same time? Always worrying about whether you are doing enough, saying enough, working enough, at your job. Please God don’t fire me, kind of work. That’s where the “Please, can you?” comes in. Please, can you reassure my scared inner child that she is worthy? She has something to offer but she’s scared. She’s scared you will lose patience with her. Thank you for believing in her. I’m sorry if she’s not what you wanted. Please God don’t fire her (me.)