Thursday, January 18, 2018

The "I'm Sorry" Epidemic: Why women should stop apologizing for existing


I'm sorry, but we need to stop apologizing for everything.

I apologize for EVERYTHING and it's driving me nuts. It's like this ridiculous reflex; it just pops out of my mouth before I even have a chance to think about it. "I'm sorry" is constantly on the tip of my tongue, ready to dive out for the most inane reasons.

I've always known I've done this, but as I've gotten older it's gotten worse. I don't really remember apologizing a lot as a child. Yes, now that I think about it...I was a very unapologetic kid (my parents will attest to that).

But this apologetic nature began building at some point so that now I'm a 41-year-old woman who will probably say "I'm sorry" about the Kennedy assassination.

Well, I am sorry about that. It was a very sad thing. But it wasn't my fault.

Here's the thing: I'm a naturally apologetic person, but I'm also getting to be a cranky middle-aged woman who is more likely to say what I think and not care about the outcome. So, if you and I are playing chicken in the vegetable aisle at the grocery store and I'm the one who ends up moving...I'll probably say, "I'm sorry."

And then immediately feel pissed off about it and walk away before I ram your cart into the display of green beans.

So, I guess I'm getting aggressively apologetic.

I can certainly pinpoint where this comes from for me:

  1. I hate conflict and will, for the most part, do anything I can do avoid it...even if it means taking the fall for something that wasn't my responsibility.
  2. I have an insecure streak in me that I've been battling for a while, but am getting the upper-hand on. Ahhhhh...the joys of aging and caring less.
  3. I cannot stand it when people feel bad (even if it's due to something that had nothing to do with me), so I will apologize, hoping it will make them feel better.

No. More.

Here's the awesome thing about where I am lately: I have found myself working within a group of incredibly strong women. I mean, we all have our weaknesses, but we call each other out on stuff that we're doing - such as apologizing - in a way that makes me more attentive to what I say, how I say it, and the impression that I'm giving professionally.

But, you know, in a good way. It's not like we all sit around and circle each other's fat or anything.

So, one of these women, who happens to be a client who's evolved into a friend, will actually yell at me when I do it. Like when some sort of technology fails us and I say, "I'm sorry" I will immediately hear, "What the hell are you apologizing for???"

And you know what I'll do then?


Seriously. It's a problem.

But I've figured out a solution!

I read this article recently where the author said that she and her friends came up with a phrase to replace "I'm sorry" so they don't say it anymore. They say something like "Sookie" which is all well and good if you're constantly apologizing in front of the friends who helped you come up with this code.

Say that to a potential client and they might think you're drinking on the job.

My solution is this: I don't say anything at all.

Yes! It's a conscious effort on my part to STOP those words from rolling out of my mouth and I've found that if I don't say anything and allow a pause to's truly a powerful thing.

First of all, people hate pauses like that. It makes them feel slightly uncomfortable. But it kind of gives you the upper hand. Rather than blurting out an "I'm sorry" you provide this interesting space in the conversation that will probably do one of two things:
  1. It will make you come across as competent because you're not bumbling all over yourself before you speak your thought-provoking next sentence that hasn't been weakened by an apology.
  2. If the other person is in the wrong...they might actually apologize to YOU.

The power of silence

I have learned that sometimes silence is the most powerful tool we have when interacting with other people. You learn more, using words economically makes people want to hear what you have to say, and, if you're in the middle of a heated argument, just sitting back and letting the other person rant usually defuses the situation quicker.

Then you go in there with your economical words and close the argument when they've run out of steam.

This pause before really does work. The result of it has been that I feel like Superwoman every time I get through a conversation or email without apologizing AND the other person gets to interact with the capable person I know is inside me somewhere.

So ladies - put on your big girl panties and get out there and unapologetically do what you're capable of.

Just know that if you run into me at the grocery store you better watch out. 'Cause from now on I ain't movin'.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

I was nothing. And I needed to be someone.

It's funny how much things have changed over the years.

I used to love writing dating blogs because they would ALWAYS get the most discussion and traffic. So, note to you: If you're ever trying to build an audience, talk about your love life. Because people have a LOT of opinions.

But I challenge you with this one not to look at it as your typical blog about dating and relationships, even though it seems like that's what the subject is. The truth is, this blog is about ME and who I've become...and less about the men who have helped me get here.

And by "help," I mean broke me down to the point where I had to build myself back up again. However, I'm hoping that you'll see by the end of this blog that it really wasn't their fault.

Well, maybe it was a little bit.

My God. I should have NEVER started dating when I did. But I couldn't help it. I put on a brave face and told everyone I knew that it was no big deal, that I was just out to meet people and have fun.

I don't know if I was intentionally lying to them. I KNOW I was lying to myself.

Three kids at home under the age of 6, I was DESPERATE for adult interaction. But it was more than that. I'd never really been single before in my life. I ran through a string of boyfriends in high school, met my husband in college, wrapped my self-worth up in a package labeled "SECURE RELATIONSHIP," and went on my merry way.

By the time I was widowed at the age of 31, I'd never been alone.

My entire self was determined by who I was coupled with. I wasn't me - I was someone who was married to an astronautical engineer. Who was I if I didn't have that???

I was nothing. And I needed to be someone.

"Being someone" meant being in a relationship. So, for a while I bounced from one to the next, some lasting longer than others, but all making me feel like utter shit when they didn't work out. Sometimes it was my fault. Sometimes it wasn't. But every attempt left me feeling more and more broken.

Until two years ago when I'd finally had enough.

I seriously couldn't do it anymore. I was so tired. So defeated. So absolutely terrified that my worst fear was going to come true.

I was going to be alone for the rest of my life.

Now, we're going to fast forward a bit. I don't feel like that anymore. I really don't. I've made peace with myself, found myself, accepted myself, and, yes, sometimes hated myself. But I've become my own best company.

Every once in a while I think about getting back into dating because I don't think I've ever been in such a healthy place before. I am completely content with my life and who I am and I think, "Maybe I'm ready." So, I'll start paging through online dating sites and then...

...I'll pull up the local dog shelter. That's right. I think I'd rather just get a dog.

I've been trying to pinpoint what it is I really feel about dating. First of all, it's exhausting to think about. But if I had to choose ONE WORD that describes how I feel about dating it would be this:


I feel used up by all of those previous relationships. Sometimes I feel like I just don't have anything left to give; those guys took it all.

But here's the part that's my fault: I LET THEM.

You know that old Eleanor Roosevelt saying, "You can't make anyone feel inferior without their consent"? That's absolutely true. Because what happened at the beginning of my attempt at dating was that I let these people run all over me. I tried to make myself into the person they wanted and when it didn't work out, I thought I hadn't tried hard enough or there was something wrong with me.

All because I didn't know who "me" was.

I put myself in so many situations that I never would now, all because I didn't have a strong sense of self. Which makes sense because when you're newly do you know who you are anyway?

And this isn't just about dating. This is true for friendships, family relationships, and work situations. When something has left me feel defeated again, I ask myself, "How did I allow that?"

It's hard to accept our own part in situations that seem so unfair. And, honestly, there are just times when we get screwed over, right?

But we have to grow from all of it, find our boundaries, and find ourselves. Because if we don't have a sense of self and stand up for who we are (judgments be damned)...

...we're the ones who have to live with the outcome.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Where I'm At

I'm sure all of you grammar police out there just rolled your eyes at that title. But I can't help it. This is where I'm at.

I was hanging out with a new friend of mine (yay!) who is newly widowed (ugh) a couple of weeks ago and we were talking about various things (as widows have a tendency to do). She had just finished Confessions of a Mediocre Widow and said to me, "But I want to know what happens next."

It was kind of funny coming from her because I know her and "what happens next" is unfolding right in front of her. But I could see what she meant. After all, the book came out a few years ago and it technically ended about a year and a half before that. So, I could see wanting to know what happens next.

After all...isn't that what we ALL want to know????

That it's going to be okay. Or if it's not, we want someone to warn us. We want to see ourselves in someone else who has successfully made it out the other side. Or if they didn't, we want to know why so we can avoid whatever it was that they did.

Totally get it.

But I feel like where I'm at (sorry, grammar police) isn't always part of my widow story. After over 10's just MY story. Yes, there are pieces of it that are tied to being a widow. But there are some moments that happen just because I'm a woman or a mom or a business owner or a daughter, sister...all of the things that make up who I am.

Then again...maybe there are some people out there who can relate to that, too. And so the story continues.

Something that I've realized just recently is that my story just might be a little different from some that are out there. After all, I didn't remarry. Heck, I'm not even dating. I did kind of leave you all up in the air at the end of my book. I seriously had to rewrite the ending because at the time it was being edited by my publisher, Mike and I broke up. So, I guess it would seem that I was a little adrift.

Actually, for a good long while there it seemed like I was completely lost at sea.

I don't want one remarried widow out there to think that I believe that by remarrying, you've turned in your grief card and you're done. I have enough widowed and remarried friends to know that that's just not the case; in fact, I feel like with some it can even be more complicated, grieving and being remarried. It's all about where we're at.

I did it again.

For a while now, I've been trying to figure out how to blog, what to write about, where my story went and where it's going. And then it occurred to me that the reason why it's been hard for me to find that "voice" is because I've entered into a different stage in my life and I didn't know who that voice was yet. That while I am widowed, that's not the first thing I identify with anymore.

But then maybe some of you who have stuck with me this far feel the same way.

I realized I need to continue my blog because not every widow book ends with a proposal and a romantic "Chapter 2" - but that doesn't mean there isn't a Chapter 2. The story continues. And I know from my own experience that sometimes you just need someone out there to say, "It's okay" and give you permission to live life on your own terms.

It just took me a while to figure that out.

So I'll continue my story because maybe it's like someone else's as well. After all, the reason I started writing in the first place was so that we'd all feel a little less alone.

And that's where I'm at.