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LJ Idol - Week 1

There are no two words in the English language, or any other that I speak, in which I remotely enjoy the words "I'm sorry." Those words make me cringe, because how often are they really meant? How often is the feeling behind them actually apologetic or sincere? How often are they just the words people grasp for when they have nothing else to say?

I'd rather hear silence.

My hatred of these words began when I was twelve. The scariest day of my life when my family basically, completely and utterly fell apart. The day my life changed, and nothing will ever fix the crack that started that day. Nothing will ever make things better, nothing will ever be able to make my heart feel whole again.

When I was twelve, my grandmother died on our driveway. The panic, the tears, the being sent to a friends while my parents went to the hospital with her. It wasn't fair. I wanted to be there too, why should I have to sit and wait, find out after everyone else? But there was nothing to find out. My mom said she'd be fine, so she was going to be completely okay, nevermind the fact that it was Feburary, no one knew how long she'd been lying there after her heart attack and she wasn't breathing for god knows how long.

My mom lied.

Three hours later when my mom finally came to get me, as soon as I saw her face, I knew. I knew she was gone. The woman who had been more of my mother than my real mother, taken away in the blink of an eye for absolutely no reason.

So when my mom tried to hug me, and the words I'm sorry came out of her mouth, I ran. Shoved my feet into my boots and bolted home, only to slam into my father who instantly grabbed me, wrapping his arms around me and muttering the words "I'm sorry" over and over.

I'm sorry? What did that even mean? There was nothing to be sorry FOR. It's not like he'd done anything wrong, and it certainly wasn't what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear that it was going to be okay. I wanted to know that it was okay, just some terribly cruel joke my parents thought it would be funny.

It wasn't.

Going back to school two days later, because I couldn't stay home anymore, having already missed about three weeks thanks to a teachers strike that was going on, people who heard what happened kept coming up and saying they were sorry. People who never even met her. There was a part of me that just wanted to shake them and ask WHY they were sorry, they hadn't done anything. I would have rather someone a "Shit, that sucks" or a "Man, that's terrible, anything I can do?" To this day, I'd rather have an honest response like that, than an "I'm sorry." Even a bad joke. Like when my cat died, and my mom kept stroking my hair. The best comment anyone made that day? The only thing to make me laugh? "Maybe she's doing it because she doesn't have a cat to pet anymore." Granted, I acted angry, because it seemed like the appropriate response, and I regret it. Because I did laugh.

I'm so sick of "appropriate responses."

To this day, the only people I want to hear the words "I'm sorry" from are my parents. Because that day? That day they began to fail as parents and as a couple. She was the glue that held them together, and without her they refused to even try to pretend. They are the only people I want an "I'm sorry" from, for making me scared of ever being in a relationship, for having a disfunctional teenage-hood, and for never being able to get along, yet refusing to be apart.

But only if it's not empty words.

The words I'm sorry just make me shake my head and wonder why, when people haven't even done anything to be sorry for.

I hate that the words have become and empty gesture, and that I'm just as guilty of saying it because it's become the expected answer when someone goes through tragedy, or has a problem.

And it shouldn't be.



( 45 comments — Leave a comment )
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Oct. 16th, 2009 02:41 am (UTC)
Not everybody's "I'm sorry"s are empty words. Whenever I say "I'm sorry", I truly mean it.

I do know what you mean though with how those two words have become practically meaningless. Whenever I would tell anyone that I hadn't met my biological father, they would say, "I'm sorry." And I had the same reaction as you did - you didn't do anything! Don't be sorry! There's nothing to be sorry for! IT'S A GOOD THING!

I won't say I'm sorry for your grandmother's passing because of this entry, but I think you'll know how I feel. :)
Oct. 16th, 2009 02:48 am (UTC)
Usually when I say "I'm sorry", I'm empathizing with you (generic 'you' here) rather than apologizing for something I've done or not done.

"No, it's not my fault, but I feel for you and don't want you to hurt, and I'll do what I can to make it better." That's what I mean when I say, "I'm Sorry."

*shrug* My condolences on the passing of your grandmother. It gets easier over the years, but you never quite stop missing them...
(no subject) - mstrobel - Oct. 17th, 2009 08:27 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - lapis_lazuli615 - Oct. 18th, 2009 04:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Oct. 16th, 2009 02:59 am (UTC)
Well, the thing is, I get NOW, almost 8 years later, why my mom wouldn't let me go, but back then I was just pissed. I could have seen her at the funeral home before she was cremated, but I couldn't do it, couldn't bring myself to go in that room.
Oct. 16th, 2009 03:32 am (UTC)
As a habitual "I'm sorry"-er...

It's sad how true it all is. It really is.

It's the weakest replacement humanity has for action. But, sadly, it's often the only thing we can think of.
Oct. 16th, 2009 03:33 am (UTC)
I always mean what I say, including I'm sorry. But you're right, I'm sorry isn't good enough for that situation. You should have been given something else, at least a chance to say goodbye.
Oct. 16th, 2009 05:21 am (UTC)
Not as traumatic as my grandma dying, but when I got laid off, people kept telling me they were sorry, and I would go, "Why? I'm not." I started prefacing it with, "Don't tell me you're sorry, but..."
Oct. 16th, 2009 08:15 am (UTC)
my daughter uses 'I'm sorry' as the catch all excuse for her crappy behavior. Everything from the small stuff to the the huge. she expects that phrase to cover it all and really, it's meaningless to me now, from her. She's not sorry, she's upset she got in trouble but not actually apologetic for a damned thing.
Oct. 18th, 2009 04:45 pm (UTC)
Oh, I have the same from The Girl - who is 8. And I tell her that "I'm sorry" doesn't fix hateful words.

I did this great thing with her to help it get across in the concrete form. I had her draw me a picture. Then I crumpled it up. I told her... this is how I feel when you say hateful and mean words. Then I asked her to make the paper perfectly smooth again. She couldn't, obviously, and I told her - this is what you do when you say you're sorry. But look at the paper, you can never make it perfectly smooth again.

Every once in a while I have to remind her of that paper...
Oct. 16th, 2009 09:57 am (UTC)
I've always thought it was hard to say "I'm sorry," and mean it. Never mind the fact that people say "I'm sorry," when they don't have any reason to feel sorry. I agree with you; it's pretty annoying.
Oct. 16th, 2009 10:50 am (UTC)
I know what you mean. It is the expected answer for those times. I hated hearing it when my mum died, but damned if I don't do it myself sometimes. Not every time I read about someone's tragedy, mind you. Usually only when I can relate. Because I know there's nothing I can say that would come out right anyway. I don't want to say, "I understand how you feel," because I can't, but I still say it sometimes, because I forget not everyone reacts the same way to similar events.

In non-sympathy terms, I suppose that something can be said about my stubbornness to apologise unless I genuinely mean it, eh?

I hope your parents eventually give you the genuine apology you're looking for.
Oct. 16th, 2009 02:09 pm (UTC)
The phrase "I'm sorry" just hurts when it is insincere.
Oct. 16th, 2009 02:20 pm (UTC)
You're competing in LJ Idol, too? Cool, so is one of my other LJ friends. You might see her around there; she's blackfroggy.

I enjoyed reading your post. I can understand how those words would come to bother you. I can't help asking, though: What if a person has done something they're truly sorry for, and they have a good reason to apologize? Then do you want to hear it?
Oct. 16th, 2009 07:00 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it seemed like a good idea XD

Of course I want to hear it then. But when someone has nothing to be sorry for and they're saying it just as something to say? I'd rather hear nothing.
Oct. 16th, 2009 02:57 pm (UTC)
I have a really hard time knowing what to say to someone when someone else they care about dies. There are not any words to express that kind of loss.

I feel bad because reading so many people's posts about misplaced words, I tend to just bounce through life taking people at face value. When someone says they are sorry to me, I believe them and appreciate the gesture. I feel like there are so many people who must have had so many bad experiences with people not meaning things where I didn't that I can trust people on the surface.
Oct. 16th, 2009 10:43 pm (UTC)
I've had a lot of bad experiences--but still tend to be more in your camp. It's just my disposition and perhaps my resilience. When someone says they're sorry, it might not be what I want to hear, but I appreciate the gesture. I know that I very often have no idea how to articulate my thoughts and feelings to another, and sometimes you've just got to say something.
Oct. 16th, 2009 03:20 pm (UTC)
When I say, "I'm sorry" (which is, admittedly, too often) I try to make sure that I mean it. I really do. But in this case I can completely understand where you're coming from. Sorry just isn't always an appropriate response.

As an aside, I LOVE YOUR LAYOUT. <3
Oct. 16th, 2009 04:07 pm (UTC)
My exboyfriend used to say to me all the time- "Don't say you're sorry unless you mean it." I would say that I'm sorry constantly. If someone interrupted me, I'm sorry. If someone knocked into me, I'm sorry. Now? I don't apologize for anything. I guess it's either all or none for me.
Oct. 16th, 2009 05:17 pm (UTC)
I was always told to apologize for my own mistakes, but there are times, I wonder if it is worth it when I don't know what I did wrong.

In your case, I can see how "I'm sorry" could not have been warranted since... what are they sorry about? I think just saying, "thinking of you at this time.... anything I can do" would have been better.

Oct. 16th, 2009 05:41 pm (UTC)
I've lashed out at a few people for "I'm sorry" as well, but I've been guilty of using it myself.

So many things, especially the common phrases and word structures are more shorthand than anything. I think "I'm sorry [for your loss]" is a pared down version of "I empathize with how you're feeling and it really sucks and it must be even worse for you and I regret that you have to endure this."

That's how I treat it now, anyway.

(And, of course, there's also the "I'm sorry" that means "It's too bad that my behavior, while perfectly rational and justified, has made you feel [angry/sad/frustrated/that way].")
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