I apologize. A lot. It’s one of those things that is apparently very common among women, especially those of my generation, it seems. Even more so of those with anxiety. I’m told all the time that I need to stop or that it’s not necessary. It’s even met with a slightly dismissive laugh from many, but I can’t seem to get away from it.
It’s a weird thing. I say sorry all the time when I’m moving around a person either in public or in my kitchen- strangers and family alike. Sorry if I bump into you. Sorry if I am moving to get in my car and you are near it. Sorry if you’re in my way in the grocery store and I need to get an item. Sorry if you’re wait staff and walking me to my seat and I go to sit down (because of course). Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. I realized all of those were saying the same thing.
In every one of those cases, I am apologizing for taking up too much space. I hate my body and its fatness so much that I cannot go more than a few moments physically interacting with another person without apologizing for it. I don’t know how to stop. People might think that once I have bariatric surgery, once I don’t actually take up this much literal space, it will get better. I’m willing to bet that it won’t. I don’t think I will ever think I’m not taking up too much space. I don’t think I will ever stop thinking I’m too much. This is partly because I’m too much in other ways, too. One of my instances of “muchness” is in the apologizing itself.
Thinking about all of the times I apologize, I realized that sometimes I do so to such an extent that it makes others around me uncomfortable or even frustrated. There was an event I attended a few months ago which stands out in my mind. I was working with people who ranged from extremely close friends to acquaintances, many of whom had not been in the same room as me in decades. I found myself apologizing constantly and effusively. It wasn’t just for taking up space, though.
Ever since having cancer and my mastectomies, it’s been something that I cannot go a half day without thinking about. A half day, in fact, is a very long and successful amount of time for it to not have occurred to me and usually means that I am home with Husband and maybe Daughter and we’re not doing anything much at all. I can go a while at work, too, if I’m super engrossed in what I’m doing. But the minute I have to stretch my upper body, reach for something far away, see my reflection, or glance towards myself while leaning over, I think of it. Always because of pain, but sometimes the pain is emotional.
The thing that really sucks, though, is that I talk about it. I talk about cancer all the time, especially with people I don’t see often. I use it as a punchline or an excuse. “Oh look, she can laugh at herself!” Why is that something I want to have as a character trait? Then I’m constantly apologizing for it. I’m terrified that I have become the person who gets eyes rolled when she’s not looking because “we get it! You had cancer! Move on.” In fact, at this particular event, my fear became so significant that I over-apologized to the point of making others irritated. There were so many things I said about myself, so many insults and deprecations. I called myself obnoxious, self-pitying, frustrating. I saw the person I was speaking to begin to squirm in discomfort and I panicked and apologized more. And more. It was awful. I watched myself doing it and screamed to stop, but it just went on. Now it’s one of those fun memories that keeps me up at night.
I’m going to try really hard to get a handle on this apologizing. There’s gor to be a way for me to see that maybe being too much is ok. There’s not really a way, I think, for me to be less; it seems like that ship has sailed. I’m not even sure I want to be less. I think the world is stuck with me this way.
So here I am, sitting and thinking about how I do these things, and what’s my first instinct? You know it! To tell you how sorry I am. And I am. Truly.
But I’m working on it.