I have an affliction, and I’m not sure what to do with it. I have spent years listening to other women who have it and thought I was the one who didn’t. But the last few weeks I’ve paid close attention to my words, and am definitely showing the signs of an apology affliction.
A few days ago, I went through the McDonald’s drive-thru. I handed the teenager my money, and he dropped a quarter between my car and the brick wall. “Sorry about that!” I said. I immediately found another quarter. Now I paid more than I owed for my future heart attack. The young man graciously accepted my apology.
Later, I entered my beauty salon for a quick trim. As my attractive, young beautician walked towards me, I began to ramble. “Sorry, I didn’t wash my hair today, it usually looks a lot better than this.” No, no it doesn’t. In fact, on this day it looked better than usual, but I apologized anyway. [quote button_text=”Tweet the Quote”]Apparently, I’m sorry that I’m sorry.[/quote]
As I was working in my office, the guys who wash my car showed up and asked if I needed my car washed. I really didn’t, it was pretty sparkly, but I said “yes” because I didn’t want to disappoint them. They were already washing four other cars, but somehow I thought mine might be the one that could spin their wash rags into gold and make them rich.
Three of the guys came in after they finished because they know that I tip well and always have cold Cokes for them in the refrigerator. I’ve also brought in a stack of books because one of them told me he likes to read.
As he looked through the stack of books, I apologized for the selection, as if my office was a lending library. “Usually, I have a better selection. But, maybe you can find something you like,” I said. [quote button_text=”Tweet the Quote”]He smiled at me the way you do at Grandma when she calls you by the dog’s name.[/quote] He was gracious and accepted all of the books. I thanked him profusely, as if the books were some kind of pest invading my office and he was pest control carrying them away in cages.
When I arrived home, my son came downstairs and I apologized for not having much for dinner. He reminded me that he’s 25 years-old, and already ate while he was out with friends.
The dog ambled in from doggie daycare with my husband, and I apologized for the fact that he seems to be losing a lot of his hair. The dog, not my husband.
I don’t think I’m alone in this excessive apologizing — I hear other women doing it every day, and, of course, I judge them for it. This need to apologize either comes from a) a belief that we have power over everything, or b) a sense that we are responsible for the happiness of everyone around us.
I’m pretty sure this is why that evening my husband asked me to hand him the salt, and I responded with, “I am doing the best I can and I can’t read fast enough to give the car wash guy more books and the dog’s hair is NOT my responsibility!”
My husband looked at me as if I were Joan Crawford screaming, “No Wire Hangers . . . EVER!” I think that, perhaps, Joan was tired of apologizing for her messy closets.
I’ve realized that nobody expects me to do any of these things that I insist on doing. I am in charge of those expectations. So, I do too much and reach a breaking point, just like Mommy Dearest. Of course, Joan also tied her kids to the bed at night, so she might have had additional problems.
Because I am a responsible woman, I’m taking control of this situation. My goal is to get through 24 hours without apologizing for anything. I’m going to assume that the dog’s hair will thicken up, the McDonald’s guy will walk out and pick up the quarter that he dropped, and the car wash guy will read without my assistance.
If you have the apology affliction, I hope you will join me in this challenge.
Maybe you’re not as neurotic as I am. If that’s the case, then please know that I’m NOT sorry that I wrote this blog.
See? I’m better already.