Why do we keep apologising?

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

All along this period of quarantine, I had stayed fairly positive, until today. It was today that the instability in my work became manifest; my paycheck was a third of what it usually is. And the prospect for next pay day is even worse: I don’t even know if I still have a job.

I was talking to a friend, pouring my worries onto her: the fact that I might have to rent a storage unit and move back with my parents (after 15 years of living on my own) because I probably won’t be able to make May’s rent (or June, for that matter).

She tried to give me alternatives of what she thought I could do, which made me grow more frustrated and irritable (there’s that anger yet again) until I asked her to change the topic.

But then I decided to do something I had never done before. I explained to her why I was being like that and said I was sorry. What happened next was like magic: I felt frustrated or angry no more.

I guess with my verbalising what I was going through and why, I could understand my anger and also I could distance myself from it. And I stopped my anger cycle, since I tend to dwell on things for ages, thinking and rethinking them non-stop.

And then it was my friend’s turn to share her worries. She’s worried about her work, about her money, she’s afraid. As we all are.

But then she apologised to me for unloading her worries on me. And this apology made me feel terrible. Because, why do we need to apologise for opening up to our friends?

I know I apologised because I knew I had been rude and annoying. But she only told me how she felt. And while it is true that there’s nothing I can do to help her but listen, since I am in a pickle myself, I am her friend, and my job as a friend is to listen and support.

Nobody likes a complainer, that much I know. But we have gone to the extreme, and it’s ridiculous. We have come to think that sharing our thoughts and feelings with others is a sign of weakness or that it will annoy them or hurt them. However, the truth is that we need connections to other people, and there can be no true love or friendship if we don’t know the other person, and that includes the darkness they might be going through at a given time.

And when I say it is my job as a friend to listen, I don’t use “job” as a negative word, one that implies obligation. But I think listening and giving support is part of the job description, and I happily do it, to the best of my ability.

Two or three hours after this exchange, Kelly-Ann Maddox posted a video on Shadow Work during the quarantine. In her Tweet , she expressed the hope that her video wouldn’t be too “rant-y” because she felt the need to vent on what is going on with the world.

And this non-apology apology made me think. Why do we apologise for our feelings? While it is true that many of our feelings might make other people feel uncomfortable they are our feelings, and as such, they are valid. I am not saying that what we feel is a faithful representation of reality, but our feelings are a representation of OUR truth, and as such we must honour them, in ourselves and in others.

Of course, it always helps if we are willing, from time to time, to compare these feelings with said reality and see if they match. But that’s the subject of another post.


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