Sunday, June 18, 2006

So Sorry for Apologizing

There is this thing I do, actually I guess that most people do it, somewhere in their life, but I am keeping the focus on me, so I will tell you my story and my lesson and then you can decide if it does or not does not ring true for your life and then what you want to do about it (if anything). So back to this thing that I do. I apologize for stuff. Not actually verbally apologizing (turns out I am relatively challenged in that area) but more energetically. It is like I am begging your forgiveness for something that you probably don’t even know I am doing or thinking or believing. It is a weird and crazy thing. I believe that it is tied to shame. I feel shame about something about myself, I feel like it must be something that you don’t want to hear or know about, or something to hide, and so energetically I drip with “sorry”, either when I talk about it, or in trying to not talk about it.

Here is the irony about that, in my work at the university career center a young international student had an appointment with me. In that appointment he told me about a job interview he had, and how during the interview he meekly said, “Well, I am an international student, so you will have to do a whole bunch of things to get me a visa.” I am not capturing it here in the words because really it was more in the intonation and the way he hung his head even as he said it to me… he was saying I am so sorry that I am an international student. Sorry to be a bother, sorry to create a hassle for you. Sorry. Well I pulled him up short and I said, in no uncertain terms “You have got to stop apologizing for being an international student!!!!! It is not a bad thing. And you are not a problem. And you are so worth whatever little bit of paper work they have to do in order to get to hire you.” He got it immediately, it is not that he actually ever said sorry, but he held it in his space, in his very essence. It is an energy. Not even a couple of weeks later he had secured a job, and he told me he had changed his attitude as I had suggested, and he had done his research, knew exactly the paperwork they needed to do and how to do that the easiest way, and offered to help them with it. He had minimized his perceived liability. But more importantly, he had changed his attitude about himself. A fun follow up to this particular story is that a few weeks after he got the job he was speaking at an event for international students, and he powerfully, emphatically and convincingly said to them… “Do not apologize for being international students!!!” Boy I love when the message ripples out, yes?

Anyway, back to me, and why that story is ironic. I do this very thing I was calling him on doing. I have shame, not even, I feel that there is something wrong about me, something I am suppose to hide or feel contrite about or ask for forgiveness for, and I carry it around like a stone. But until I release myself (and I really am the only one who can release me), absolve myself, let it go, then I continue to torture myself with it, and try to hide it like a nasty little secret. And since I keep it as a secret I am not usually even aware myself that I am doing it (much like my international friend) until someone else sees it and calls me on it. Here is my easy and present day example (although I am sure there are many more places…) as I start to venture into the dating realm I feel awkward telling people I have had cancer, like it should be kept secret, like it is something to be ashamed of, like it is something that requires forgiveness. And if I had a counselor who was speaking to me about this I am sure they would tell me “You do not need to apologize for being a cancer survivor!!!! It is not a bad thing. You are not a problem. In fact, it makes you a more powerful, focused, aware, determined human being than you even were before. Wear it like a badge of honour!” And even as I say it to myself it feels right. And so for me and for you, and for all the places we feel broken or like we should seek absolution or cover up and hide: love them, heal them, and flaunt them. You are a perfect, beautiful, miraculous human being. Celebrate yourself instead of apologizing!


At 12:43 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! That hit home. Thank you.

At 8:51 AM PDT, Blogger Mother of Invention said...

And the irony's such a Canadian thing! Someone bumps into US and WE say "I'm sorry"!!

At 11:13 AM PDT, Blogger Signy said...

Yes, and hence the title of the posting, boy we are build for thinking something is wrong with us or needs hiding. Meanwhile, I know that I am as sick as the secrets I keep, so the sooner the light gets into that (and any other) dark corner, the better!

At 6:43 PM PDT, Blogger Mother of Invention said...

You got that right!

At 12:36 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why DO we do that? It's like we are apologizing for who we are, what we want, what we are doing here. Hey - it's not my fault the sperm met the egg! Here I am! Damnit. Thanks Signy, that's great food for thought. cowtown Dawn

At 9:23 PM PDT, Blogger Signy said...

I have heard some people say it is also a bit of a Canadian thing. Maybe sit with that and see if it is true for you.


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