I apologize a lot. Multiple times a day, if I’m being honest. I apologize for things I am not sorry for. And I apologize when I don’t know what else to say. But most of all, I apologize for things that aren’t even my fault.
Anyone who has any sort of ailment knows what it’s like to feel as if you have to apologize for simply existing.
Recently, I was at work and my co-workers and I were having a conversation. The conversation led to intimacy. Out of seemingly nowhere, I began to cry. As tears began pouring out of my eyes, my first instinct was to apologize. So I did. And then I kept apologizing over and over and over again. I was sorry for being emotional. I was sorry for bringing everyone down. I was sorry for “burdening” other people with my own issues. But what was I really apologizing for?
Of course when I say I started crying “out of seemingly nowhere” I know that’s a lie. I know why I was crying. I was crying because I have illnesses that prevent me from being intimate. I was crying because it feels very unfair to live with these illnesses on a day-to-day basis. I was crying because at that exact moment, I was in physical pain as well as emotional pain. I was crying because it isn’t fucking fair. And I was crying because sometimes I don’t know what else to do. Sometimes, I just feel sorry for myself.
Earlier that week, my boyfriend and I had plans to go to dinner. As the dinner hour approached, my body began to feel more and more pain. When it was finally time to go to dinner I knew that I didn’t feel like going. In fact, I didn’t feel like leaving my bed. But instead of saying, “I don’t feel good, let’s order takeout,” I said, “I am so sorry for ruining your night. I am so sorry. I am so sorry.”
The truth is that I was sorry. I don’t want to live this life of illness most of the time, so I can’t imagine why anyone else would want to, either. But I am so damn tired of apologizing and feeling bad. I am so damn tired of feeling guilty for something I have no control over. I am just so damn tired.
We live in a society that inadvertently tells us to hide our emotions and pretend everything is OK because otherwise you might burden someone. You might ruin five minutes of their day. You might make them feel uncomfortable. You might show them vulnerability.
But the only person I am burdening or making uncomfortable is myself… by spouting apology after apology.
A lot of times when I am in pain — emotional or otherwise — I feel like I have to hide it. I feel like I have to shove it deep down inside of me and never let it out unless I am alone in the comfort of my own home. I don’t feel like I am allowed to just feel. Whether that’s physical pain or emotional pain.
But the problem is that… I have chronic pain. I feel shit all the freaking time. I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel hopeless. I feel euphoric. I feel nauseous. I feel pissed off. I feel ungodly amounts of cramping in my uterus. And I feel ashamed of it. I feel ashamed of something that I have absolutely no control over.
It’s bad enough that people living with ailments have to deal with those ailments on a daily basis — it’s much worse when they feel as if they have to somehow apologize for not being able to handle it perfectly at all times.
I’m sorry for a lot of things. I’m sorry that I sometimes take my anger and frustration out on those around me, I’m sorry that I ran over a bird when I was 16, and I’m sorry that I was mean to the kid on the bus in 6th grade. But I am no longer sorry for being upset about the pain I have to deal with on a daily basis. I am no longer sorry for crying. I am no longer sorry for being angry. And I am no longer sorry for canceling plans.
Because the truth is, when I apologize for being in pain, I am apologizing for existing in the only way that I can.
And although there’s a lot of things in life that I could be sorry for, my body not working the way its meant to is certainly not one of them.