My life was transformed when I finally stopped apologizing for every little thing.
I hadn't realized how much I said that word. "Sorry." I've been in a few battering, abusive relationships, both mental/emotional and physical abuse, and it's actually AMAZING how often I apologized - not only for the things I didn't exactly do right - but for every single tiny, insignificant thing. Oh, I don't talk enough. "I'm Sorry." I forgot to wipe the counters down...forgot to turn the light off...I didn't read his mind and know to do x, y, and z... "I'm sorry." I didn't do this. I didn't do that. Because I didn't know I was supposed to do this made-up duty. "I'm sorry." It became a habit. "I'm sorry" became a natural response to not knowing what to do. It was a way for me to wave it off and try to forget something as quickly as possible. I became weak and defeated, and I felt the change in my character. I lost my energy. It changed who I was, and I gave in. I was a doormat, and I was getting walked on daily with muddy, tar-laden boots. Better yet, let's say those boots had dog crap on them. That's how it felt. I was defeated.
At the start of 2016, I read an online article in the format of a blog entry that I had stumbled upon by accident. It was a personal account of a girl who had noticed how often she apologized for anything and everything. She apologized in relationships, friendships, work relationships - all the time to everybody. I knew I hadn't read it by mistake (I don't believe in coincidence, but I do believe in signs), and it forced me to take a step out of myself and look at my own situation from the outside. Suddenly, I realized I'd been apologizing for everything I am - for who I am. In my bad relationship, I apologized all the time, and over the course of two years, I was incredibly weakened by the accumulation of guilt and feelings of inadequacy that came from being in a dysfunctional relationship. I decided, in January 2016, that that needed to stop. I was done saying "Sorry." I didn't want to be sad anymore, and I made the active decision to quit being a victim.
I realized I'm fine the way I am. I stopped apologizing to the abusive ex, and he noticed. He slowly but surely was losing control, and he couldn't gaslight* me anymore. It was like going back to the gym after a long time...my muscles were a little sore at first, but I was getting stronger. It made him crazier, but eventually he lost his hold and I was able to walk away and never look back. It took a long time to leave.
I stopped making excuses for other people. Piece of advice - you should too. Stupid is as stupid does, and you can't apologize for another person who is deflecting their darkness onto you. Don't justify the actions of others. All you have to own up to is yourself - your thoughts, intentions, and actions. Acknowledge what others do against you for what it is - deflection of their own problems and traumatizing events - and put up your shield. You don't need their negative energy and you damn well don't need to apologize, especially to them. Some people are just broken, and they'll do anything and everything they can to break you too so they're not alone. That's all there is to it.
It's been a year since I stopped apologizing. When I say I "stopped apologizing," I don't mean that I refuse to apologize for my wrongdoings. That's another story. If you screw up, you better own up to it and say you're sorry. In a way, cutting out the constant apologies is a great way to make your real apologies mean more. It's kind of like saying "I love you." The less you say it, the more it seems to mean. Talk the talk AND walk the walk. Most people don't, as I'm sure plenty of you are well aware of. Say what you mean, and when you apologize for something, make sure you mean it. If you don't, don't apologize.
When I stopped my bad habit of constantly apologizing, there was one "exercise" I took with me that I still use regularly today. I catch myself - a lot more than you would think - almost apologizing. I ask myself, "AM I sorry for this?" and "Did I really do something wrong?" Even if I'm not apologizing - if it's regular conversation - it's good to practice listening and thinking before saying something. Process thoughts and clarify them before deciding on what you're going to say. Most people don't, and that's when people say stupid things.
Most of the time, when I apologized in the past, it was because I was in an argument and wanted it to be over. I hate fighting. I think most people do, but I've also noticed there are a few at least slightly-crazy humans who seem to love it and push buttons regularly to trigger arguments for the sake of confrontation. I used to yell back and get really upset. If the argument went on too long, I'd fall into the "I'm sorry, I'm sorry" mode and give in and melt into a puddle on the floor. Now? I walk away. If someone is going to yell at me, I'm out. That's not an adult (or healthy) way to deal with a situation, and it doesn't do anything positive for anyone involved. Yelling is the symptom of an irrational, emotional mind. Instead of breaking down, I go for a walk. Be the bigger person and get some air, even if it hurts your feelings, and come back and resolve the issue when the other party isn't going to scream at you. Yelling is a sign they're not in the right mind to hear, listen, and process anything properly anyway.
When I stopped apologizing all the time, my life got better. My world became brighter, more positive, and the sun seemed to shine more often. I didn't feel so bad. I didn't feel depressed, like I needed a xanax to deal with anything. Not apologizing for being myself became freedom. It was a gateway I walked through that led into a new world, a bigger, brighter world and it exponentially got better - my hair stopped falling out from intense stress levels. I stopped taking xanax. I didn't feel like I NEEDED that one last glass of wine at the end of a long, trying day. Not apologizing for being me was a critical step forward in getting my strength back.
If you catch yourself apologizing constantly, I challenge you to take a step back and ask yourself, "Why am I apologizing so much?"
I encounter - mostly young adults, some older - many people almost daily who, for some reason, think they're annoying me. They openly apologize, "I'm sorry if I'm annoying," "Sorry to bug you," "*insert another apology line here.*" You're not bothering me. I don't think you're annoying. I promise. I'm Jess Meuse, a normal person, just like you. I just happened to have been on tv, and I sing, write, perform, and travel for a living. I'm very blessed for that - and it led me to all of you! I promise that none of you annoy me, and I treasure each of you so much for exactly who you are.
This goes for everyone, whether you're a fan of mine or not...
I want you guys to take a step back and realize how perfectly imperfect you are, how important your existence is. You don't need to say sorry. You didn't do anything. Don't worry about it, and definitely don't worry about what anyone else thinks of you - including me.
*gaslighting: ˈɡaslīt/verb gerund or present participle: gaslighting - to manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.