Definition of sorry
1: feeling sorrow, regret, or penitence
3: inspiring sorrow, pity, scorn, or ridicule: PITIFUL their affairs were in a sorry state
Sorry! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to…
This was a common mantra of my youth.
Apologies to family, friends, teachers, even to myself were a part of life. They have continued. I do screw-up sometimes. I have learned that I am fallible and flawed.
“Everybody messes up sometimes.”
-Yeah, that doesn’t help.
I guess that at one point ‘I’m sorry’ served well as an educational tool. Problem noted, problem fixed, and lesson learned never to be repeated.
Enough mistakes and/or repeated problems and enough ‘I’m sorries’ becomes a moral failing. “You just don’t try!” “You know you should’ve…” “Stop saying you’re sorry!” and other things that told me that I was incompetent, stupid, lazy, not worthy and that anything I got was a favor since I didn’t deserve to be cared for. (Complex PTSD? Maybe.)
There comes a point where no matter what good you have in you, you are not good enough. You don’t belong in the ‘real’ world. And you are sorry.
I couldn’t do things well enough to please my mother. I couldn’t save my brother and sister from the madness. I couldn’t make my father stay home or save the family. I couldn’t ‘make things different’.
Honestly, social safety-nets and mental health services and information being what they were at the time, there wasn’t anything to be done. Not that this would have occurred to a young mind.
I was not the ‘best’ kid. ADHD played its part and I could see the illogic of my situation, but emotion overrules logic every time. I don’t know where the line is between circumstance, mental illness, and me as a person is, or where my responsibility lies. I suppose that for my life, emotions, and reasonings, I am responsible even if there is nothing that I can change.
I believe that there is a primal emotion in humans (and most animals) that says that when we are rejected, we have the urge to dissociate from our group. This leads to suicide, drug abuse, and isolation from your group or isolation from the world.
Being sorry is fundamentally useless, leading to shame and self-destructive behaviors. It acknowledges our responsibility to others but changes little if anything. We feel that if we beat ourselves up enough, show some blood and bruises, maybe we will be forgiven. “Can I give you a finger or an arm to show my misery?”
But, ‘sorry’ is human. We want to be understood. We want others to be happy.
Maybe we can best understand and forgive ourselves as we would a child.