On the afternoon of May 14th, 2014 I was laboring in a tub at The Birth Center in Beverly.
This was my first time doing the whole “pushing a human out of my body” thing, and despite all of the books I had read, mothers I had spoken to, and videos I had watched about what giving birth is actually like I was still completely (and I mean COMPLETELY) shocked by how painful the contractions were.
I was doing my best to handle everything as calmly as my body and mind were allowing, but I was also dealing with back labor (side note: back labor is the opposite of a good time) and getting fatigued. During all of this I had music playing on my phone from the playlist I’d compiled carefully weeks before.
One of the midwives was in with my husband and I to check on how things were progressing, and “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” by Kanye West starts filling the room. I am in pain, sweaty, slightly scared, probably hungry, and I turn to the sweet midwife and say “I am so sorry about the cursing in this song.”
WHY DO WE DO THIS?!
Why was I apologizing for something that warranted no apology? Why, even in my stressed out agony of active labor, did I feel compelled to say sorry to this woman who, by the way, looked at me like I was nuts, told me not to worry about it, and did not even mention the song or its plethora of cuss words to begin with?
I was in labor! My body was in the process of bringing a child into the world, and yet my mind still went there. To that weird place where I just know things that I do are bothering other people in some way, and where things are automatically my fault.
Where did I get this idea from? How did I reach the point of uttering that five letter word as a knee jerk reaction? I know I’m not the only person stuck in this pattern, and that’s even worse.
Assuming blame for things we are not even at fault for occurs in situations more serious than f-bombs being dropped in front of a midwife at a birthing center, and that’s why it’s important that this habit gets dealt with from the start. You may not feel too concerned about apologizing to the server when you want to send back your meal that arrived completely incorrect, but what about when you find yourself saying sorry before speaking your mind at work or sharing an idea? Your thoughts and opinions have value, and you of all people shouldn’t be discrediting them. Know your worth, my friend.
Since that incident with the midwife happened five years ago one might assume that I have evolved and ditched the urge for needless apologies, but no. Just the other day a woman stepped on my foot in Trader Joe’s and I immediately yelled, “whoops, I’m so sorry!”
If I am still apologizing to people that step on my feet then I think it’s safe to say I have not made much progress.
I have hope, though. Just being aware that I do this is productive and leading me in the right direction. I’ve certainly been spewing sorry’s for a good long while, but it’s only been the past few years that I even noticed. So now I’m on a bit of a mission to become stingy with my apologies. If one is truly needed in a situation, then I will of course hand it over without hesitation. If I am at fault, I will own that (or at least do my best to get there).
But if someone bumps into me at the mall, or I have company over and my house looks less like a spread from HGTV Magazine and more like an actual family with a child and a dog lives there? I’m going to try and keep that “S” word locked up tight.