I was about to text my husband with a meaningless question about the location of something in the villa where we lived. And I caught myself before pressing send.
I’m in the habit of reading things back to myself before submitting, sending or posting in case auto-correct has me saying something ridiculous, and then I have to send another corrected message. But this time when I read it back to myself I was surprised to see:
I was about to apologise to him for not being able to find something at home. WTF!
From my perspective did I feel responsible for it not being in its usual spot?
Or did I feel guilty for interrupting his day with a silly question?
Or was I apologising for being so useless I couldn’t find it on my own?
The self-inquiry horrified me - because the answer was (d) all of the above…
The last 8 weeks of having four fractured bones in my left foot has seen me suddenly take on the role of being cared for. And I feel guilty as hell for every little thing my loving husband has to do for me because I can no longer do it myself.
But it is not just the apologising for asking a question that is the problem. It is also the: “I don’t want to be a bother”, “If it’s too much trouble”, and the “If it’s not too expensive can you please get me”, that signals a serious lack of my own self-worth in relation to asking for and accepting the help that is essential to me recovering well.
I don’t think I’m alone in speaking this way, although this is specifically about me and my injury, I’ve also seen it in other women I know in very simple circumstances, of which I’m also guilty of.
Whether it is saying sorry, when someone sits down next to you on the bus.
Or sorry because you want to place your order in a restaurant.
Or sorry because you walk through the door a millisecond before someone else does.
Or sorry because you pass someone in the ladies room.
Or sorry because you interrupt someone’s conversation when you want to be served at a retail counter.
Or sorry because you come out of the change room and someone is waiting outside to use it next.
Or sorry because you want to say something in a meeting.
Or sorry because you have a question about the project you are working on.
Or sorry because your friend has dropped over and you didn’t f*cking make the beds
or wash the dishes before they got there.
Or sorry because there is something you can’t do alone and you need to ask for help.
Or sorry because you wore something that might make you stand out instead of blending in to the walls.
Or sorry because you laughed out loud and someone overheard you.
Or sorry because you didn’t answer the phone call because you were in the toilet.
F*ck sorry. F*ck apologising for taking up space in this world. F*ck apologising for having needs or wants or dreams or passions or hopes or desires or fun.
At some point in history women were trained to apologise simply for their presence, and it has filtered down to still exist in this day and age, and it’s killing our sense of equality - and it’s time we stopped doing it. Seriously, we have to stop saying sorry when the situation does not genuinely warrant it.
So I edited that text message, and didn’t apologise for asking a question that is simply my right to ask. My husband didn’t want or need my apology, in fact it drives him mad each time I act guilty for asking for help - because at the end of the day if I shrink back with guilt for my existence, then he doesn’t get to enjoy the opportunity to be there for me.