06 November, 2013

What am I Sorry For?


I have a habit I do not like. I apologise for myself all the time. Like ALL THE TIME. I didn't realise it until I moved in with my boyfriend. Living with someone you are close too is like being next to a constant and annoyingly good mirror - they show you yourself, all of you, even the bits you don't like or didn't know were there.

I have learnt a lot about myself living with Gareth, some of it better than others, and I have tried to change in ways I needed to. Before 2 became 1, I had no idea how uptight I am about plans and routine or how controlling I am in the kitchen. I didn't know I was missing out on soooo much good TV or understand the benefit of doing nothing every now and then.

On the flip side, I didn't know how much I thrive on security, how much confidence I gain from the safety of a happy home. I didn't realise how much time I dedicate to my friends and family or how quickly I drop everything when they need me. As I said, some of my qualities are better than others, and if this year has taught me anything it is that just when you think you know yourself, you realise you don't. And then you go and change and it's back to square one.

The things which have become most obvious to me this year though, as I see myself in Gareth's own reflection, are my own habits and unconscious behaviours which I have probably been doing for most of my life. Of course I have lived with other people, lots of them, and they may have noticed these things too, but no-one sees you so 3 dimensionally as a partner, and I don't think anyone has ever reflected back to me some of my unique tendencies quite how Gareth has. I had probably only lived with him for a few weeks when he first started reprimanding me for apologising for my very presence. He started to ask me what I was sorry for, and made me realise what I was doing. It wasn't before long before I started to notice myself saying sorry for nothing a countless number of times a day. Bleugh!

I would be aright with this little habit, as everyone has them don't they? Except I'm not really aright with it, because I don't like what it reflects about what's going on inside. I am not a meek person by any stretch of the imagination. I am confident and extrovert and opinionated. So why am I apologising for myself when I walk past someone on the stairs? Or before I ask someone a question? Or when I get onto the treadmill next to someone at the gym? Why am I sorry?

I have tried to stop apologising so much since noticing this, because I think it can only lead to bad things with regards to how people see you, or how they think you see yourself. It shows a vulnerability and a lack of confidence that perhaps doesn't do me any favours when it comes to earning bona fide respect. When I first realised this habit, suddenly a lot of other things added up, a lot of other people's reactions to me made sense. In the past I have felt other people have been able to speak to me or treat me in such a way they wouldn't do to others. Does my apologetic nature have something to do with it? Can such a small behaviour have such a big impact? I think so. Because underneath every give-away behaviour is an iceberg of information about yourself, and us humans are really very clever. We pick up on those tiny signals, they go straight into our subconscious and dictate how we interact with each other. Every minor movement, everything about how we hold and present ourselves says so much about who we are on a level we don't even understand.

Sorry is definitely not the hardest word for me, but really this unconscious habit is just me needing to make everyone happy. And you know what? I can't. I am me, I live, I breathe, I will apologise if I hurt you otherwise I am really not sorry. Instead of apologising for myself, I am going to try to live for myself a little more.

Sorry not sorry.

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