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Haylee Linton

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UK Pagan

[A Cauldron Full of Stars] I'm Sorry

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UK Pagan
I am one of those women who apologize for everything.  It also drives me crazy.  I know, on one level, that most things aren't my fault, and yet, I still say that I'm sorry.  My reflex, however, something that was socialized into me years ago, is to accept responsibility for anything anyone hints might be my fault. Younger brother sets the rug on fire, I felt guilty.  My kid says something rude to another kid, I feel responsible and apologize only to find out that the kid was defending himself.  My husband is cranky over something, I say, "I'm sorry'.  And, while doing all of these things, I'm also disgusted with myself.

I am not alone in this toxic behavior.  So many women do it that books have been written about the phenomenon and the therapy for it.  It's societal, and it's really, really bad for us.  For every apology we make that we aren't actually responsible for, someone is getting off the hook for their bad behavior.  It causes imbalances in shame, fear, and accountability at every level of society.  You can't hold the victim or the bystander accountable for crime and expect anything to get better.  We all know this, but when it comes to a more personal level, our perspective gets skewed and we get blinded by our emotions and relationships.

For me personally, it causes physical problems. My stomach churns every time I feel responsible for something, and the ensuing internal conversations make me tired, unhappy, and anxious.  I can keep myself awake for days replaying my actions when I believe I could have done better.  Literally, I make myself sick.  Then I feel worse because I know I did it to myself.

I have been trying to change this behavior.  The first step, always, is to recognize something you do is unhealthy.  Then you have to try new behaviors on for size, and like buying the perfect pair of shoes, you might be trying things on for a good long while.  Much like shoes, one type isn't appropriate for all occasions.  Your pumps can't replace your running shoes.  Sandals can't do the work of snow boots, at least not without substantial risk to you.

I have no cure-all advice here.  I'm still learning.  I've tried to turn "sorry" into "thank you" when it works.  I've tried not saying anything, and I've dabbled in not accepting responsibility.  I've made some progress, but not enough for my liking.  I'm trying not to pass on this personality trait, and it's had mixed results.  Right now, I'm trying to be conscious of my behavior and the reasons for that behavior.  Maybe once I deal with why I feel like I should accept blame I'll be able to stop doing it.  I hope. I really, really hope.

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