butterbuns: (¤House¤ Elfin)
There are no two words in the English language, or any other that I speak, in which I remotely enjoy the words "I'm sorry." Those words make me cringe, because how often are they really meant? How often is the feeling behind them actually apologetic or sincere? How often are they just the words people grasp for when they have nothing else to say?

I'd rather hear silence.

My hatred of these words began when I was twelve. The scariest day of my life when my family basically, completely and utterly fell apart. The day my life changed, and nothing will ever fix the crack that started that day. Nothing will ever make things better, nothing will ever be able to make my heart feel whole again.

When I was twelve, my grandmother died on our driveway. The panic, the tears, the being sent to a friends while my parents went to the hospital with her. It wasn't fair. I wanted to be there too, why should I have to sit and wait, find out after everyone else? But there was nothing to find out. My mom said she'd be fine, so she was going to be completely okay, nevermind the fact that it was Feburary, no one knew how long she'd been lying there after her heart attack and she wasn't breathing for god knows how long.

My mom lied.

Three hours later when my mom finally came to get me, as soon as I saw her face, I knew. I knew she was gone. The woman who had been more of my mother than my real mother, taken away in the blink of an eye for absolutely no reason.

So when my mom tried to hug me, and the words I'm sorry came out of her mouth, I ran. Shoved my feet into my boots and bolted home, only to slam into my father who instantly grabbed me, wrapping his arms around me and muttering the words "I'm sorry" over and over.

I'm sorry? What did that even mean? There was nothing to be sorry FOR. It's not like he'd done anything wrong, and it certainly wasn't what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear that it was going to be okay. I wanted to know that it was okay, just some terribly cruel joke my parents thought it would be funny.

It wasn't.

Going back to school two days later, because I couldn't stay home anymore, having already missed about three weeks thanks to a teachers strike that was going on, people who heard what happened kept coming up and saying they were sorry. People who never even met her. There was a part of me that just wanted to shake them and ask WHY they were sorry, they hadn't done anything. I would have rather someone a "Shit, that sucks" or a "Man, that's terrible, anything I can do?" To this day, I'd rather have an honest response like that, than an "I'm sorry." Even a bad joke. Like when my cat died, and my mom kept stroking my hair. The best comment anyone made that day? The only thing to make me laugh? "Maybe she's doing it because she doesn't have a cat to pet anymore." Granted, I acted angry, because it seemed like the appropriate response, and I regret it. Because I did laugh.

I'm so sick of "appropriate responses."

To this day, the only people I want to hear the words "I'm sorry" from are my parents. Because that day? That day they began to fail as parents and as a couple. She was the glue that held them together, and without her they refused to even try to pretend. They are the only people I want an "I'm sorry" from, for making me scared of ever being in a relationship, for having a disfunctional teenage-hood, and for never being able to get along, yet refusing to be apart.

But only if it's not empty words.

The words I'm sorry just make me shake my head and wonder why, when people haven't even done anything to be sorry for.

I hate that the words have become and empty gesture, and that I'm just as guilty of saying it because it's become the expected answer when someone goes through tragedy, or has a problem.

And it shouldn't be.

Date: 2009-10-16 02:41 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] scapegoat.livejournal.com
Not everybody's "I'm sorry"s are empty words. Whenever I say "I'm sorry", I truly mean it.

I do know what you mean though with how those two words have become practically meaningless. Whenever I would tell anyone that I hadn't met my biological father, they would say, "I'm sorry." And I had the same reaction as you did - you didn't do anything! Don't be sorry! There's nothing to be sorry for! IT'S A GOOD THING!

I won't say I'm sorry for your grandmother's passing because of this entry, but I think you'll know how I feel. :)

Date: 2009-10-16 02:48 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] lapis-lazuli615.livejournal.com
Usually when I say "I'm sorry", I'm empathizing with you (generic 'you' here) rather than apologizing for something I've done or not done.

"No, it's not my fault, but I feel for you and don't want you to hurt, and I'll do what I can to make it better." That's what I mean when I say, "I'm Sorry."

*shrug* My condolences on the passing of your grandmother. It gets easier over the years, but you never quite stop missing them...

Date: 2009-10-17 08:27 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] mstrobel.livejournal.com
Same here. Like, I'm sorry for you/your loss/your situation.
(deleted comment)

Date: 2009-10-18 04:41 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] lapis-lazuli615.livejournal.com
Most of the time when I say "I'm Sorry" people will reply with "It's not your fault" or "There was nothing you could have done".

And I tell them, "You're right, it's not my fault (or "there was nothing I could do"), but just the same, I care about you and am expressing my sympathy." It's my way of saying "I love who you are" and they generally accept it as such.

Date: 2009-10-16 02:56 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] stormkitty.livejournal.com
I agree, it's a horrible response that we all end up giving when someone has a loss in their life. And it totally sucks that you weren't able to go to the hospital to see your grandmother.

Date: 2009-10-16 02:59 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] butterbuns.livejournal.com
Well, the thing is, I get NOW, almost 8 years later, why my mom wouldn't let me go, but back then I was just pissed. I could have seen her at the funeral home before she was cremated, but I couldn't do it, couldn't bring myself to go in that room.

Date: 2009-10-16 03:32 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] alephz.livejournal.com
As a habitual "I'm sorry"-er...

It's sad how true it all is. It really is.

It's the weakest replacement humanity has for action. But, sadly, it's often the only thing we can think of.

Date: 2009-10-16 03:33 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] oldscratchx.livejournal.com
I always mean what I say, including I'm sorry. But you're right, I'm sorry isn't good enough for that situation. You should have been given something else, at least a chance to say goodbye.

Date: 2009-10-16 05:21 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] kandigurl.livejournal.com
Not as traumatic as my grandma dying, but when I got laid off, people kept telling me they were sorry, and I would go, "Why? I'm not." I started prefacing it with, "Don't tell me you're sorry, but..."

Date: 2009-10-16 08:15 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] diaphoni.livejournal.com
my daughter uses 'I'm sorry' as the catch all excuse for her crappy behavior. Everything from the small stuff to the the huge. she expects that phrase to cover it all and really, it's meaningless to me now, from her. She's not sorry, she's upset she got in trouble but not actually apologetic for a damned thing.

Date: 2009-10-18 04:45 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] lapis-lazuli615.livejournal.com
Oh, I have the same from The Girl - who is 8. And I tell her that "I'm sorry" doesn't fix hateful words.

I did this great thing with her to help it get across in the concrete form. I had her draw me a picture. Then I crumpled it up. I told her... this is how I feel when you say hateful and mean words. Then I asked her to make the paper perfectly smooth again. She couldn't, obviously, and I told her - this is what you do when you say you're sorry. But look at the paper, you can never make it perfectly smooth again.

Every once in a while I have to remind her of that paper...

Date: 2009-10-16 09:57 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] viagra.livejournal.com
I've always thought it was hard to say "I'm sorry," and mean it. Never mind the fact that people say "I'm sorry," when they don't have any reason to feel sorry. I agree with you; it's pretty annoying.

Date: 2009-10-16 10:50 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] comedychick.livejournal.com
I know what you mean. It is the expected answer for those times. I hated hearing it when my mum died, but damned if I don't do it myself sometimes. Not every time I read about someone's tragedy, mind you. Usually only when I can relate. Because I know there's nothing I can say that would come out right anyway. I don't want to say, "I understand how you feel," because I can't, but I still say it sometimes, because I forget not everyone reacts the same way to similar events.

In non-sympathy terms, I suppose that something can be said about my stubbornness to apologise unless I genuinely mean it, eh?

I hope your parents eventually give you the genuine apology you're looking for.

Date: 2009-10-16 02:09 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] phoenixejc.livejournal.com
The phrase "I'm sorry" just hurts when it is insincere.

Date: 2009-10-16 02:20 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] aries11.livejournal.com
You're competing in LJ Idol, too? Cool, so is one of my other LJ friends. You might see her around there; she's [livejournal.com profile] blackfroggy.

I enjoyed reading your post. I can understand how those words would come to bother you. I can't help asking, though: What if a person has done something they're truly sorry for, and they have a good reason to apologize? Then do you want to hear it?

Date: 2009-10-16 07:00 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] butterbuns.livejournal.com
Yeah, it seemed like a good idea XD

Of course I want to hear it then. But when someone has nothing to be sorry for and they're saying it just as something to say? I'd rather hear nothing.

Date: 2009-10-16 02:57 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] zia-narratora.livejournal.com
I have a really hard time knowing what to say to someone when someone else they care about dies. There are not any words to express that kind of loss.

I feel bad because reading so many people's posts about misplaced words, I tend to just bounce through life taking people at face value. When someone says they are sorry to me, I believe them and appreciate the gesture. I feel like there are so many people who must have had so many bad experiences with people not meaning things where I didn't that I can trust people on the surface.

Date: 2009-10-16 10:43 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] cacophonesque.livejournal.com
I've had a lot of bad experiences--but still tend to be more in your camp. It's just my disposition and perhaps my resilience. When someone says they're sorry, it might not be what I want to hear, but I appreciate the gesture. I know that I very often have no idea how to articulate my thoughts and feelings to another, and sometimes you've just got to say something.

Date: 2009-10-16 03:20 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] brand0new0day.livejournal.com
When I say, "I'm sorry" (which is, admittedly, too often) I try to make sure that I mean it. I really do. But in this case I can completely understand where you're coming from. Sorry just isn't always an appropriate response.

As an aside, I LOVE YOUR LAYOUT. <3

Date: 2009-10-16 04:07 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] lyrical-liessss.livejournal.com
My exboyfriend used to say to me all the time- "Don't say you're sorry unless you mean it." I would say that I'm sorry constantly. If someone interrupted me, I'm sorry. If someone knocked into me, I'm sorry. Now? I don't apologize for anything. I guess it's either all or none for me.

Date: 2009-10-16 05:17 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] jenandbronze.livejournal.com
I was always told to apologize for my own mistakes, but there are times, I wonder if it is worth it when I don't know what I did wrong.

In your case, I can see how "I'm sorry" could not have been warranted since... what are they sorry about? I think just saying, "thinking of you at this time.... anything I can do" would have been better.


Date: 2009-10-16 05:41 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] notbatman.livejournal.com
I've lashed out at a few people for "I'm sorry" as well, but I've been guilty of using it myself.

So many things, especially the common phrases and word structures are more shorthand than anything. I think "I'm sorry [for your loss]" is a pared down version of "I empathize with how you're feeling and it really sucks and it must be even worse for you and I regret that you have to endure this."

That's how I treat it now, anyway.

(And, of course, there's also the "I'm sorry" that means "It's too bad that my behavior, while perfectly rational and justified, has made you feel [angry/sad/frustrated/that way].")

Date: 2009-10-16 08:16 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] rejeneration.livejournal.com
Oh, man, I couldn't agree more. I have never put any stock in "I'm sorry" ... for me it's about action, not repeating the same mistake again. I actually hate the words "I'm sorry."

Date: 2009-10-16 09:35 pm (UTC)From: [personal profile] shadowwolf13
shadowwolf13: (Default)
I think in this case they're saying I'm sorry for your loss and expressing empathy for you. It's not that they feel that they did something, just that they are sorry that you are going through such a hard time.

I completely see your point though which is why I always follow it up with "let me know if there's anything I can do to help".

Date: 2009-10-16 10:10 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] onda-bianca.livejournal.com
Many "I'm sorry's" are empty which is quite a shame because they have the potential to be very powerful.

Date: 2009-10-16 10:24 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] solstice-singer.livejournal.com
People do use those words far too often. I've often wondered why we're expected to be sorry for things we have no part in. I mean, we can be sorry for what a person is going through, but I think there are other, more meaningful, ways to express those feelings.

Very thought-provoking entry.

Date: 2009-10-17 12:44 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] poppetawoppet.livejournal.com
ironic how we've all done our posts on I'm sorry, and yet we've all come up with different writings. Hopefully with time, some sort of understanding will grow out of this. Then again, maybe it won't. Either way...

Date: 2009-10-17 02:06 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] faerie-spark.livejournal.com
What a terribly painful experience you describe here! Your words are excellently crafted. They really drew me in. I could feel your pain and sense of abandonment.

"I'm sorry" can be such empty words. One thing I almost always do, when someone tells me something sad or upsetting that doesn't actually have to do with me is to say "I'm sorry to hear that" or "I'm sorry that happened". Sorry can also mean sadness, so one truly can feel sorry. But the saying, those two words by themselves, have come to mean apology, and often an apology is not meaningful or helpful.not

Date: 2009-10-17 04:03 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] martoufmarty.livejournal.com
I'm one of those people who apologizes a lot. I don't mean to, it's just 'sorry' slips out. Sometimes I mean it, sometimes I just say it because it seems appropriate.

At work if I forget to do something? I apologize, and I mean it.

On the other hand, a customer is being obnoxious and irate about a product she purchases? I apologize, but deep down I'm thinking about how much of an asshole they are.

When it comes to serious things like a death? I have no words. Though some may appreciate knowing that people sympathize, others - like yourself - hate hearing the words. I think there are more people of the latter than the former.

Around here last month there was a house fire which killed a grandmother. I saw the woman's daughter in the store just yesterday and I just couldn't say anything. Another woman's common-law husband died of cancer just the other week - again, couldn't say anything. I feel that the last thing they want to hear is 'sorry' from a little ol' hardware clerk who didn't really even know them.

Date: 2009-10-17 08:39 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] myscribbles.livejournal.com
Because of the history, I can see why you hate these words. With my husband it is the "are you ok?" he always feels like screaming and saying no i'm not damn well ok, why would I be"

I agree though that sometimes there is more meaning behind them than you think, it can be hard to speak to someone who has soffered a great loss, and take it from me, it's even worse when people have 'nothing' to say. Will agree with you that I'd prefer a 'shit that sucks'

Lovely entry, very honest. :)

Date: 2009-10-17 09:41 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] libra-dragon.livejournal.com
I say I am sorry a lot which I need to work on.

Nice job.

Date: 2009-10-17 11:12 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] majesticarky.livejournal.com
Very powerful entry. I have never got offended by "I'm sorry", or thought of it as an empty gesture. I guess because I do understand it means "I'm sorry that you feel that way", or in your case "I'm sorry that something bad happened to you" and I accept that. It catches me off guard when I say that to someone and then they say "Why are you apologizing, you didn't do anything?"

I would be very sad when my grandmas die. One is very elderly and I just hope it won't upset my dad terribly.

I actually am sorry you had to experience that, especially what happened afterwords.

Date: 2009-10-18 12:30 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] baxaphobia.livejournal.com
Sometimes people just don't know what to say. Sometimes the "I'm sorry" means nothing but other times it's just the way of saying "life sucks.." It's a hard call.

Date: 2009-10-18 10:39 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] thaliontholwen.livejournal.com
"I'm sorry," is an infuriating response, I agree. And nobody stops to think that it could possibly be.

Date: 2009-10-18 11:43 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] so-small.livejournal.com
I think "I'm sorry" has become the most over-used phrase in the English language, and it really is a shame.

Date: 2009-10-19 09:51 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] imafarmgirl.livejournal.com
Aww so sad. I often wonder why people say they are sorry about a person they never knew as well. I think if they were sad that you were hurting or something, they could say that instead and it would be more accurate.

Date: 2009-10-20 12:23 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] sra33.livejournal.com
Meh, I usually say "I'm sorry for your loss" or just give them a hug. XD I'm the quiet person who just kinda stands there and follows your lead. ^^

Boo for parents not getting along and not splitting, mine were like that, too.

Date: 2009-10-20 12:25 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] butterbuns.livejournal.com
Mine did split. For three days. Then my mom moved back in. *headdesk*

Date: 2009-10-20 12:29 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] sra33.livejournal.com
Ahahaha, well they finally did get a divorce... I had just graduated high school and my dad had just lost his job. *grin*

Date: 2009-10-20 06:02 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] walkertxkitty.livejournal.com
I don't like hearing those words either. As you mentioned, they don't often mean anything in context. I can and have screamed at someone, "Don't apologize if there's nothing to apologize for!"

Nicely written.
Well written and relevant application of topic. I love the language you use in your writing and the general flow of it, too. Sort of rhythmic as I read. I really like this line:

I'm so sick of "appropriate responses."

Great job! : )

Date: 2009-10-21 04:26 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] fourzoas.livejournal.com
I can vividly remember the drive to my grandmother's house after my mom got the call from her brothers that her father had "had a heart attack." She's the only girl in a family of 7, and the men ALWAYS protect the women. Of course, my grandad had died several hours earlier, in his sleep, and wasn't discovered until my grandmother went to wake him. They were afraid to tell her the truth because she was going to be driving 20 miles with her children to get to the family home.

That day I learned that women couldn't handle the hard cold facts of life. I was 16 and from that moment on I made sure I never gave anyone a reason to assume that this woman couldn't handle anything.

Sometimes grownups don't understand how their well-intentioned actions are received/understood by children. Thanks for sharing that story.

Date: 2009-10-21 06:33 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] thenodrin.livejournal.com
"The words I'm sorry just make me shake my head and wonder why, when people haven't even done anything to be sorry for."

As others have said, "I'm sorry" doesn't always stand for, "I'm sorry that I did that." Sometimes it means, "I'm sorry that happened, I wish it hadn't."


Date: 2009-10-21 07:31 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] blythe025.livejournal.com
I'm conscious of how "I'm sorry" can sound to others. It's often totally ineffectual, so I try to reach for something else to say. Often there's nothing else, because nothing I say will take the pain away. When I say "I'm sorry," I'm really saying, "I wish I could take the pain away, but I can't, and I'm sorry for that."

Date: 2009-10-22 01:13 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] chipshopness.livejournal.com
That's rough. Ouch.

Date: 2009-10-24 03:34 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] taliface.livejournal.com
Whenever my husband says "I'm sorry" about things that have upset me but are not (usually) his fault, I say the same thing--"You didn't do it." He always responds that he's sorry that I'm upset, and that he is expressing sympathy/empathy. It doesn't stop me from wanting him to not say it, though. I agree--I'm sorry should be used to express true sorrow. Maybe then people like you and me wouldn't have such a hard time when the words are meaningless.

Date: 2009-10-26 12:52 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] java-fiend.livejournal.com
Wow. That is just such a tragic story. I can't even begin to imagine how hurtful it must have been to not just have her pass but to have your mother lie to you about it. I wish I had words appropriate or not to take that pain away. Thank you for sharing your story.


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