Friday, October 7, 2011

just in case i need to apologize~

One morning, it hit me that I hadn't thought about the search in a few days. It had become this strange in-between place I'd visit in my mind, random at times, only lasting a fleeting moment. It was someone else's life, someone else's story.
But I could feel myself building this protective chain mail around me, you know, just in case.
In case of what? I felt like I'd spent my life living the just in case philosophy. Never one without an exit strategy, I am always onto Plan B. Some people call it organized, some people call it being a worrier, some people call it neurotic. Oh hell, who am I kidding? I am Plan B.
So just in case my birthmom did what I, for some dramatically pathetic reason pictured her doing (calling Kathy the Social Worker back and saying, "I want you to stop calling me. I know what you're calling about and I want nothing to do with it"), I was preparing myself for it. Well, I'm not being that dramatic. Kathy told me that anything beyond the initial letter and 2 certified letters could technically be constituted as harassment by the birthparent. Nice. I was picturing her, phone clenched in hand, red-faced and angry, thinking she'd moved on in her life and how here she was, 50 years old, this great life finally and who is this girl to come barging in on it....Again?
I wrote a story in my creative writing class in college entitled My Apologies. In it, I explored my penchant for apologizing, something I struggle with even now, although not quite as badly. At least now I know when to say "pardon". But I distinctly remember the section of the piece devoted to how my carefully honed skills may have come about:

Where did all my apologizing come from? As far as I can remember, I've been apologizing since I was born. No, it could have been before then. I imagine myself in utero, the chosen oogonia, apologizing for being the lucky egg for fertilization. I am that egg with the hardened shell of mucus around it, beating back the streamlined version of my father with my acidic bows and arrows. Only it didn't work, and now I'm here. I'm sorry for that, I kept saying to my mother. I tried to stop the current from carrying me any further by leaning against the wall, crying into my cytoplasm pool. But instead I got swept along, settling into the soft cushion of her body, somehow becoming only a noticeably bigger problem.
Perhaps I apologize to every person every chance I get because I'm actually tallying up a lifetime of apologies to the woman who bore me but couldn't bring herself to raise me. Perhaps we are more deeply aware of our beginnings than we give our 6 lb-odd-ounce selves credit for. I know nothing about my birth mother except that she named me Marie, skipped one of my doctor's appointments, and gave me a nightlight in the shape of an ocean wave because I was afraid of the dark. Apparently motherhood came at the wrong time, because she left me at an adoption agency when I was 4 months old and didn't return. Perhaps it was in that moment something unlocked inside me: I did something wrong to deserve this. So I started down a path of perpetual apologizing: a preliminary remark, an introduction to all discourse, nay; an uncontrollable, subconscious verbal tic to be identified by.

Always afraid of having bad timing (for um, obvious reasons) I feared that maybe M's 50th year was as big as it is for most. Maybe she'd just had this huge party, celebrating her mid-life and accomplishments. Maybe she had other kids now. Maybe they didn't know. Maybe I'd make them feel threatened. Maybe I'd been reduced to "the situation M got herself into a long time ago." Most people aren't as frank and open as me. So maybe, neurotic apologizing wasn't going to make it all ok. Come to think of it, when did it ever?
Just in case.
What if?
I think that's why I always despised that line "que sera, sera". Not one to live with the "whatever will be, will be" attitude, I tend to take things into my own hands when I can.
When I can.


  1. Em,
    I think you are incredibly brave to put all this out there for us to read and understand. Thank you.

    I've made a conscience decision over the years to take note when I say, "I'm sorry" or "Sorry about that" Interestingly, I've said it less and less, because it makes you realize the situations you have control over and the one's you don't.

    I think the constant need to apologize, adding it to endless sentences, it way more common in women than men.

    I can't imagine you NOT here, you make all those around you feel like the most interesting person in the room, when in fact you are.

    love ya little bird!

  2. thanks, hil!! your words mean so much to me! i really like what you say about how being more careful with one's sorry's makes you realize situations you have control over and ones you don' true!!!