I’ve briefly mentioned weaponized apologies in the past and I’ve been mulling over this ever since. I think my perception of apologies and how some people react to them has really impacted my ability to take ownership for my actions.
I remember vividly being in my early teens and crying while saying sorry. While I was told I shouldn’t be so sensitive, as was the norm, the issue was dropped… until a couple of weeks later when another conflict arose. I was reminded of my teary apology and essentially told that as I had admitted fault in the past that I would do so again. I believe the words were “I would be careful if I were you, are you just going to cry and say you’re sorry again?” (Note: not sure if this is word for word as this occured over a decade ago, but this is how I remember it.)
Through this incident and others, I learned that giving an apology meant admitting weakness and handing over a victory. This is the illogical message that I received and carried with me. Whether this was my borderline brain jumping bizarre conclusions or a legitimate interpretation my environment is irrelevant. This way of thinking has shaped my behaviours for my entire life, I became very guarded when accepting fault out of fear. Something that was so essential to human growth was stripped from me.
I’m getting it back. I’m taking a hard look at myself and deciding to move forwards. To learn from my mistakes in the hope of becoming a person who doesn’t make so damn many of them. How can this be weakness rather than strength? It is so empowering to take ownership for your actions rather than letting your actions own you.
I fucked up. I let fear rule me and pushed people in every direction, but I mostly pushed them away. There aren’t words which truly express how much I regret my actions over the past couple of years. I could talk about how the symptoms of BPD have crippled me and led me to make some pretty shitty decisions, but this is my mental illness and it doesn’t control me. It’s a handicap but I’m still behind the steering wheel. While my brain is flooded with negativity and doubt I can choose which thoughts and ideas to act on. It’s time to start making some better choices.
I’ve signed up for a DBT (dialectical behaviour therapy) course. Six months, 3.5 hours a week and about $6000-7000 total. It’s going to be intense and it’s going to be exhausting, but I’m hopefully going to learn to carry myself with more integrity and reduce harm to those around me. Because I get it, I really do. I have some needs which neurotypicals don’t; there are things you might say that burn me to the core while other people wouldn’t bat an eyelash. I need help learning how to handle these situations better.
While I realise my approach to my mental health hasn’t always been productive this does not mean that I feel I have been treated with respect and understanding throughout this difficult time. Assigning blame here isn’t helpful either though. If I can own my bullshit as I hope to do more regularly this is a blessing, but it isn’t reasonable to expect everyone else to be able to do this.
This sounds like I’m putting the needs of others before myself, and maybe in some ways I am. I feel that there is some middle ground that can be achieved here though without conversations which involve the phrase “you shouldn’t” or “you were wrong”. I can communicate my needs without putting down anyone and I hope that others can do the same to me.