I had a dream in the early hours of morning about a visit to a therapist. Dr. Carl Jung sat across from me with a giant desk in between us. I remember asking, “Dr.Carl, this is very impersonal. Is there a way we can sit next to each other without this desk in the way?” We moved to the area where I sat on the sofa and he sat on a comfy chair across from me. I began with apologizing for my brokenness. It was a long dream. I was woken by my boyfriend while crying. The details aren’t important. What is relevant is my sense of apologizing for my emotions.
I have always had the “I’m Sorry Syndrome.” And when someone asks me to stop apologizing I apologize for it again. I know where and how it stems from. There has to be a barricade to this agonizing need to please others. As women we tend to do it more frequently than men. Childhood traumas, abusive relationships and just pure self-esteem issues cause us to immediately sneak in the apology to smooth things over with another person. But, sitting across from Carl Jung I realized it wasn’t necessary.
We tend to apologize for everything. I apologize for interrupting, for feeling a certain way, for being early to an appointment, etc. Heck, I apologize just for laughing or crying while thinking I am making the other person feel uncomfortable. And, let’s not even discuss the apologies I shell out when the other person has done me wrong and I end up apologizing for them.
The word “sorry” is magical. It opens hearts and allows for forgiveness. However, that same word can be a crutch in not allowing self-worth to grow in a positive manner. We apologize for our parenting skills, professional choices, schooling, loving too deeply or not loving enough. We apologize for not wearing the right clothes, not having enough money, and having a bad hair day. We apologize for so many senseless acts based on our emotions. When do we stop this self-sabotage outrage of losing our self onto another? Why do we apologize when we find our voice and want to express it? Each time an apology is dished out we are serving a part of our worth and letting that person hold the key to our emotions.
I remember my ex never apologized…ever. So, I spent years apologizing every time he did something wrong or hurtful to me. I would end up apologizing for a fight or disagreement. The common answer from him was, “If you weren’t the way you are then you wouldn’t push me to act this way. I accept your apology.” Typical narcissism personality disorder to the oomph degree! In these moments an apology is like white-out. It is covered up but always still underneath it all. When you’ve wronged or hurt someone an apology is a must!
Some of the questions I asked Dr. Carl (as I kept calling him) were: “What is my purpose here? What do I do with myself from here on? What can I bring to this life?” I believe I had a few more universal questions in regards to my existence. I can’t remember right now. What I do remember is the feelings of shame and displacement. I recall the brokenness of remorse and guilt. In the middle of the conversation I can still feel the sense of self-criticism and judgment while apologizing for the past and the lessons that I’ve learned from such traumas.
As a child I wasn’t heard. My mother had me at 44 years of age. She was too busy going through menopause when I was just starting middle school. Puberty was something you did and never discussed. I apologized for my mood swings, for wanting to be with friends, and for needing to just be left alone without her around. I apologize for my ultra sensitivity, my need to be perfect in school, and anything that she could not relate to as a teenager in the 80’s. I was expected to be seen and not heard. This was most people of my generation. Now that I am my mother’s age I see the difference the generation gap created. The need to apologize is a weakness rather than a healthy characteristic when the resentment is for wanting to honor your feelings.
When do we stop this nonsense of putting everyone else in front of our own needs? When and how do we break the pattern of justifying what we want with an apology? When do we start to live authentically…now or the day we are dying?
I believe that a dream with an archetypical world famous psychologist was exactly what I needed to reflect and cease those things I keep struggling to fix. I cannot continue to be sorry for the person I am or continue to become. If I happen to ruffle a few feathers along the way I have to accept it is a reflection or projection of that other person. We must stop apologizing for evolving and wanting to live authentically. Let’s put the word “sorry” back to its real context once and for all.
“The only correct actions are those that demand no explanation and no apology.” ~Red Auerbach