This poem was written as a confessional glimpse into my recovering apologist ways; inspired by YouTube comedian and life coach—and my personal hero—JP Spears.
His video, I’m Sorry (Why People Apologize all the time) helped me arrive at some life-changing, yet hard-to-swallow revelations of my own psyche. Until processing these truths and recently choosing to embark on the road to recovery, I battled a lifetime of unnecessary apology addiction.
I’ve spoken with many women who, like myself, experience a reflex-like urge to revisit dark alleyways which store festering boxes of unworthiness learned in this world, and “shoot up” on unnecessary apologies.
The putrid contents of these boxes whisper to them virtues of silence and smallness, how to be a “nice woman,” and to never take up more space than what you perceive the world has allocated for you. Humble independence and equivocating “chillness” with lacking needs. Apologies of all shapes and sizes when aforementioned criteria are not met.
Sometimes an apology will be your reluctance to accept a favor from a friend, or in the way you inhabitat a small corner with crossed legs on a subway. The “high” comes from a silent question mark left suspended in air, non-verbally begging the apology recipient to validate you with “it’s okay” or “don’t worry.”
It lasts a split second before another urge arises for a sequential apology for taking up space in the first apology follows.
This sh*t is worse than sugar—and equally detrimental to your health.
Sometimes I still relapse.
To every woman who can relate to this poem—you are neither alone nor weak in this experience.
Do not confound your apologizing tendencies with more apologies. Bring light to the darkness of these ways; these boxes never belonged to you. Own your existence. Take up space. Breathe. Ask for an umbrella when it rains. Accept it with gratitude. Spread your legs on a bus, even when your knee edges threateningly near the seat’s divide.
Examine all the ways in which these apologies can harm your being, then begin to forgive. Rewrite your story. Boldly and unapologetically name the addiction we’ve all inherited, open those boxes to reveal their contents, share your apology confessions, and together we will recover.
Taking up Space—Female Confessions of a Recovering Apologist
Why is it that thank you
Is the same as I’m sorry
The same as I don’t deserve this
That you went out of your way for me
The same as I would rather not impose myself
Or accept an umbrella in that downpour
Or even worse, ask for one
Because I will then have to thank you profusely
Until I am on my knees
With pebbles digging burgundy craters on my surfaces
Begging for forgiveness
I mean sorry
I mean thank you
F*ck it, it’s all the same
I’m depleted from believing that
I having to plea with you
To validate my existence
With you’re welcomes, it’s okays
You’re worthies, don’t worries.
Imploding inwards, innards clenching
In the grace of your presence
And then apologizing for the space I take
In between this request
For stamping the visa of my existence
And then for my breath
Taken to form
That apology too.
No thank you,
So nice of you to offer,
But I am perfectly fine squeezing in the back seat of this sedan among stale crackers and flattened raisins or you know, This Clorox-scented closet,
I’m cool with nauseous fumes
Or hell, even under this
Plastic tarp for the night.
Hey, it builds character,
And I’m super easy to please anyways.
I’ve made myself this way for you, her intestines whisper.
A “chill girl” she says.
Beneath the veil of her lips
She may not sleep tonight
But at least
Her knees won’t bleed.
Author: Rochelle Nizam
Image: Author’s own; jane-beata/deviantart
Editor: Lieselle Davidson