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My overused word

1
”Sorry, is all that you can’t say. Years gone by and still, words don’t come easily. Like sorry like sorry…” Sings Tracy Chapman on her debut album which I play over and over again in my house. But for me, actually, sorry is very easy to say. I say it all the time. Daily. For instance: ”I’m sorry I’m playing the same record as the last time you were here,” I’ve said to friends, absolving my sins for only having 15 records in my collection. ”I’m sorry I’m late,” to my personal trainer, twice a week, every week. ”Sorry I haven’t called in
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ages,” to old friends. ”Sorry, I don’t have any sweets,” to my daughter.

But recently the ’sorrys’ seem to be for bigger things, too. A sign of life unravelling and me wanting to fix things.  ”I’m sorry I put the phone down on you,” to a family member. ”I’m sorry I repeatedly acted like a nutcase,” to a friend. ”Sorry I offloaded on you,” to my mother. ”I’m sorry your sweatshirt hasn’t arrived,” to 150 customers whose orders are over a month delayed due to a Brexit/Covid stock shortage.

But I do wonder if the more I say ’sorry’

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the less meaning it has, and if I should find different ways to express what I am feeling. Because occasionally when I say ’I’m sorry,’ I’m genuinely asking for forgiveness, but most of the time the word simply masks something else, and it downplays whatever emotion or action caused the issue in the first place. Sometimes sorry is a get-out clause that doesn’t confront whatever is at the heart of the situation.

I am actually gutted about the sweatshirts being late, and I’m embarrassed our Customer Happiness hasn’t been better. And I do think a

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sorry is warranted to our loyal customers, as the word is comforting to hear when you’ve invested into a brand you feel let down by.

But am I sorry I play the same record over and over? Not really. I love Tracy Chapman. And I love the Grace Jones and Michael Kiwanuka albums I play on repeat, too. Why am I apologising for an imagined problem my friends might have with my repetitive music tastes?

And am I really sorry I’m late for Erica, my personal trainer, who waits for 15 minutes two mornings a week? Well, I wish I was more of a punctual person,

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but actually I’m pleased I’ve made it at all. Yes, I am rocking up at 6.45 am instead of 6.30 am – but Erica simply catches up on her French or social media, and I feel proud of my achievement; showing up, and working out, twice a week for the last two years.

And with the big stuff – the sorrys I have given might have been due, but also they might mask a hidden a deeper issue that needs fixing. They might have absolved the other person of delving into that issue, too. They might be a sign that I am too eager to fix stuff, instead of living with it

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feeling a bit icky. That maybe living with discomfort is a better path to fixing issues than a 5-letter word.

What I’ve realised recently is that maybe I am leaping in to say sorry, when I could also sit back and take stock and deal with the life overwhelm, unapologetically.

Because there are things I’m not sorry for. And those qualities are hidden sometimes when ’sorry’ is the first word to spill out.

I’m not sorry for who I am. I’m not sorry for being a woman with a big heart and lots of emotions. I’m not sorry for feeling, and sharing

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my feelings. I’m not sorry for passionately loving. I’m not sorry for caring. I’m not sorry for feeling hurt. I’m not sorry giving my all in any situation. I’m not sorry for being strong while also weak. I’m not sorry for combusting every now and again. I’m not sorry for loving fiercely, and for working hard, and for giving life my all.

So I guess I’m starting to feel, sorry (not sorry).

SelfishMother.com
Molly Gunn, Editor

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- 27 Mar 21

“Sorry, is all that you can’t say. Years gone by and still, words don’t come easily. Like sorry like sorry…” Sings Tracy Chapman on her debut album which I play over and over again in my house. But for me, actually, sorry is very easy to say. I say it all the time. Daily. For instance: “I’m sorry I’m playing the same record as the last time you were here,” I’ve said to friends, absolving my sins for only having 15 records in my collection. “I’m sorry I’m late,” to my personal trainer, twice a week, every week. “Sorry I haven’t called in ages,” to old friends. “Sorry, I don’t have any sweets,” to my daughter.

But recently the ‘sorrys’ seem to be for bigger things, too. A sign of life unravelling and me wanting to fix things.  “I’m sorry I put the phone down on you,” to a family member. “I’m sorry I repeatedly acted like a nutcase,” to a friend. “Sorry I offloaded on you,” to my mother. “I’m sorry your sweatshirt hasn’t arrived,” to 150 customers whose orders are over a month delayed due to a Brexit/Covid stock shortage.

But I do wonder if the more I say ‘sorry’ the less meaning it has, and if I should find different ways to express what I am feeling. Because occasionally when I say ‘I’m sorry,’ I’m genuinely asking for forgiveness, but most of the time the word simply masks something else, and it downplays whatever emotion or action caused the issue in the first place. Sometimes sorry is a get-out clause that doesn’t confront whatever is at the heart of the situation.

I am actually gutted about the sweatshirts being late, and I’m embarrassed our Customer Happiness hasn’t been better. And I do think a sorry is warranted to our loyal customers, as the word is comforting to hear when you’ve invested into a brand you feel let down by.

But am I sorry I play the same record over and over? Not really. I love Tracy Chapman. And I love the Grace Jones and Michael Kiwanuka albums I play on repeat, too. Why am I apologising for an imagined problem my friends might have with my repetitive music tastes?

And am I really sorry I’m late for Erica, my personal trainer, who waits for 15 minutes two mornings a week? Well, I wish I was more of a punctual person, but actually I’m pleased I’ve made it at all. Yes, I am rocking up at 6.45 am instead of 6.30 am – but Erica simply catches up on her French or social media, and I feel proud of my achievement; showing up, and working out, twice a week for the last two years.

And with the big stuff – the sorrys I have given might have been due, but also they might mask a hidden a deeper issue that needs fixing. They might have absolved the other person of delving into that issue, too. They might be a sign that I am too eager to fix stuff, instead of living with it feeling a bit icky. That maybe living with discomfort is a better path to fixing issues than a 5-letter word.

What I’ve realised recently is that maybe I am leaping in to say sorry, when I could also sit back and take stock and deal with the life overwhelm, unapologetically.

Because there are things I’m not sorry for. And those qualities are hidden sometimes when ‘sorry’ is the first word to spill out.

I’m not sorry for who I am. I’m not sorry for being a woman with a big heart and lots of emotions. I’m not sorry for feeling, and sharing my feelings. I’m not sorry for passionately loving. I’m not sorry for caring. I’m not sorry for feeling hurt. I’m not sorry giving my all in any situation. I’m not sorry for being strong while also weak. I’m not sorry for combusting every now and again. I’m not sorry for loving fiercely, and for working hard, and for giving life my all.

So I guess I’m starting to feel, sorry (not sorry).

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Molly Gunn, Editor

Molly Gunn is the founder and editor of Selfish Mother, a site she created for like-minded women in 2013. Molly has been a journalist for over 15 years, starting out working on fashion desks at The Guardian, The Telegraph & ES Magazine before going freelance in 2006 to write for quality publications. She now edits Selfish Mother, sells #GoodTees to raise funds for charity, & writes freelance for Red Magazine and The Sunday Telegraph's Stella. Molly is mother to Rafferty, 6, Fox, 4, and baby Liberty. She is married to Tom aka music producer Tee Mango and founder of Millionhands. They live in Bruton, Somerset.

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