It’s become a suffix to all of my sentences. Ask a question, get an answer, say, “okay, sorry.” Even when I know I’m not, there are times I feel like a burden to people with a perfectly okay memory. When I apologize, I’m not apologizing for asking someone to repeat something they just said. I’m apologizing because I shouldn’t have to ask.

It’s a self confidence issue. What I’m actually sorry for is not forgetting the time you just asked me to start a task, but knowing a normal person would be able to remember. I, instead, have to interrupt what you’re doing to ask again. I’m not what I used to be.  

But I also know that it’s not my fault, and that I’m not finished. People grow constantly, brain injury or not, and I’m still working on myself. I just have to work harder than most people. So, lately I’ve been trying to replace the word “sorry” with another phrase that shows gratitude for people helping me rather than one that places blame on myself: “Thank you.” For example, at work, where I have to prepare a certain amount of desserts for residents:

Q: How many pureed desserts do we need again?

A: 20

My response: Okay, thank you. About a week ago I would have started my question with “Sorry, but can you tell me again…” and ended with “Okay, sorry.” I feel like the constant apologies are even more of a burden than the thing I’m actually apologizing for. They solicit an affirmation that my questions are not a bother, even if they are, and it just reminds whoever I’m speaking with that I might be making a mistake.

With my new response, it also insinuates that I am actually listening to what a person is telling me. It’s gratitude rather than guilt, and I feel that both parties are more comfortable with that.

What I’m learning is that I shouldn’t have to apologize for something I have no control over. It’s not my fault, and it isn’t anyone else’s fault either. I still let a few apologies slip now and then, but I’m better every day. I hope that continues.

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