Plural Of Sorry


I’m an apologizer. Living with me is like a chorus of sorries (sorrys?). My mom will tell you that I always criticize her for apologizing too often and too sincerely. At times it feels like she genuinely blames herself for whatever it is that has happened – my flight is cancelled due to weather and she’s sorry she invited me to come on a trip. But my husband will tell you that I apologize almost as much as my mother.

This morning I woke up even sicker than I was yesterday – so sick in fact that even though Brian had gotten up early to get a short run in before heading off a little bit early to work he changed his plans and told work he wouldn’t be in until after lunch and took care of Evan all morning for me without being asked.

As I curled up in various places around the house – the chair, the couch, the bed – a chorus of sorries rang through my head making me question again why I seem to be so sorry all the time. This morning, for example, I wasn’t sorry I was sick, or at least not sorry in the way that makes you apologize to someone. I wasn’t sorry Brian was staying home because I knew he had the sick time and I knew I really needed his help. I wasn’t sorry at all. And yet I kept wanting to say it to Brian, “I’m sorry about this.” I also would have said “thank you for staying home” about a jillion times if I’d been able to talk between coughs.

Along with my sorries I’m also full of thanks. Somehow the two things are related although I haven’t exactly figured out how.

I can tell you this: I think I figured out this morning that the sorries aren’t so much about guilt or contrition or sorrow. They’re about trying to say something to gauge how the other person feels about the balance of power: You’ve done something for me and I’m not doing anything for you… is that OK? When I haven’t cleaned the kitchen even though I was home all day with Evan and then I apologize when Brian gets home, it’s like I’m really saying, “Does that bug you?” and not “I really wish that I had done the cleaning.”

I wonder why I never realized that before.

Not that this cough is worth the somewhat insignificant personal awareness. At least not while I’m still sick.


11 Responses to “Plural Of Sorry”

  1. I do the same thing. Sorry comes out of my mouth far too often, many times without even thinking. I’m not sorry for my own actions or lack of action, but sorry for the inconvenience caused by those actions on the other person (my husband, usually). But I like your theory, too – maybe I am just trying to say, “Yes, the house is a mess after I was home all day, but you don’t mind, right?”

  2. Hey, I do that too! I do it because I felt guilty. (Growing up Catholic and all.) BUt what you say makes sense. Wow. You do always get epiphanies when you are sick?

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