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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. 21st, 2009 02:09 pm (UTC)
From a reader - not a contestant
Well written and relevant application of topic. I love the language you use in your writing and the general flow of it, too. Sort of rhythmic as I read. I really like this line:

I'm so sick of "appropriate responses."

Great job! : )
Oct. 21st, 2009 04:26 pm (UTC)
I can vividly remember the drive to my grandmother's house after my mom got the call from her brothers that her father had "had a heart attack." She's the only girl in a family of 7, and the men ALWAYS protect the women. Of course, my grandad had died several hours earlier, in his sleep, and wasn't discovered until my grandmother went to wake him. They were afraid to tell her the truth because she was going to be driving 20 miles with her children to get to the family home.

That day I learned that women couldn't handle the hard cold facts of life. I was 16 and from that moment on I made sure I never gave anyone a reason to assume that this woman couldn't handle anything.

Sometimes grownups don't understand how their well-intentioned actions are received/understood by children. Thanks for sharing that story.
Oct. 21st, 2009 06:33 pm (UTC)
"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."

As others have said, "I'm sorry" doesn't always stand for, "I'm sorry that I did that." Sometimes it means, "I'm sorry that happened, I wish it hadn't."

Oct. 21st, 2009 07:31 pm (UTC)
I'm conscious of how "I'm sorry" can sound to others. It's often totally ineffectual, so I try to reach for something else to say. Often there's nothing else, because nothing I say will take the pain away. When I say "I'm sorry," I'm really saying, "I wish I could take the pain away, but I can't, and I'm sorry for that."
Oct. 22nd, 2009 01:13 pm (UTC)
That's rough. Ouch.
Oct. 24th, 2009 03:34 pm (UTC)
Whenever my husband says "I'm sorry" about things that have upset me but are not (usually) his fault, I say the same thing--"You didn't do it." He always responds that he's sorry that I'm upset, and that he is expressing sympathy/empathy. It doesn't stop me from wanting him to not say it, though. I agree--I'm sorry should be used to express true sorrow. Maybe then people like you and me wouldn't have such a hard time when the words are meaningless.
Oct. 26th, 2009 12:52 am (UTC)
Wow. That is just such a tragic story. I can't even begin to imagine how hurtful it must have been to not just have her pass but to have your mother lie to you about it. I wish I had words appropriate or not to take that pain away. Thank you for sharing your story.
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