"Stop saying 'I'm sorry' for things that you have no control over!"
Those are the words that my boyfriend repeated to me at least 4 times last night (and once this morning at 4am as I was dropping him off at the airport).
He had just spent 7 hours at the Atlanta airport, two of those being on the tarmac, watching his flight get indefinitely delayed. After they deplaned he came home, understandably frustrated, and parked on the sofa. I greeted him with a hug and a kiss and an "I'm sorry about your flight". He hugged and kissed me back and we proceeded to order pizza and scrounge up some clean underwear for him to pack (since we also have no idea where his bag is at this point).
For the remainder of the night I said "I'm sorry" for a variety of things.
"I'm sorry about your laundry"
"I'm sorry that we couldn't get the pizza that you like"
"I'm sorry about the mess at the airport"
"I'm sorry you have to get up so early for your flight"
"I'm sorry they don't know when your flight is going to be"
I think I was about to bleat out my 87th "I'm sorry...." when Frank finally stops me and sternly says "Stop saying 'I'm sorry' for things that you have no control over".
Of course my knee-jerk response was "I'm sorry" (but I used my willpower and refrained). What he had said really struck me. It wasn't because I felt like he wasn't hearing my empathy for his situation, but because I knew the "I'm sorry" reaction was indicative of a few bigger issues.
One issue of course is that I'm too lazy to more specifically express how I feel... hence using "I'm sorry" for when Frank's flight was delayed and also using "I'm sorry" for punching someone in the face (obviously two totally different things, and also the punching is hypothetical).
The second issue is that I realized my immediate response to ANY kind of inconvenience, especially when it happens to someone else, is to apologize for it. I swear, I would say "I'm sorry" to someone that backed into MY parked car. I find myself apologizing for getting bumped into on the sidewalk by someone not paying attention. I've probably apologized to an ex because HE cheated on me.
You see what I mean?
This whole "sorry" problem came from somewhere, and I have no idea where. I honestly think that most women suffer from chronic "I'm sorry"-ness and we rarely recognize it (unless of course someone calls us out on it). It wasn't until Frank had to AGAIN say to me this morning "Stop apologizing for things that aren't your fault!" –after I apologized for having to take him to the airport– that it finally clicked.
So, you've heard it here first folks.... I'm vowing to stop saying "I'm sorry" to things that aren't my fault, and promising to put more energy toward using other expressions to express empathy and understanding.
If you suffer from "I'm sorry"-ness then STOP (as Frank would say). Take ownership of your existence and stand up for yourself. Also... if you come up with other expressions, like: "That's unfortunate", then please send me a list. I'm going to need all of the help I can get.
Sorry for the long post :),