Words you never thought your mom might say. But when I was around 11-12, she said these words to me.
I’ve always struggled with ‘short-cut-itis’. I guess I just made up a word, but I didn’t invent the concept. You know what I mean – take the easy way out every time.
At my house I basically had 1 main job. Make sure the kitchen was clean before I went to bed. I had lots of other chores, but that was my main one. And every night, I had to be reminded. And many nights I would slip off to bed before mother lifted her head from the sewing machine to remind me. And in the morning I’d say, “I’m sorry.”
Until the morning my mother lost it. I came at her with my sorry and she came back with, “Stop saying that.” My mouth dropped open. She said, “I can tell you aren’t really sorry because you never change your behavior.”
You’d think I learned a lesson, right? Well, it did make a difference in my life in that situation – I remember it today. But it seems I have to learn this same lesson for each and every time I’ve been relying on my, “I’m sorry,” to short cut my way out of a jam.
Just last week my sweet hubby had to say it.
I don’t know if you follow the enneagram or not, but I’m a classic 7. Hopeful realist with fear dogging my tail. I also hate heights and have some claustrophobia. So I’ve developed a horrible back seat driver identity. I gasp, grab the handle, talk to other drivers, tell Paul what to do – you get the picture.
Last week I wrote a FB post about being a recovering control freak. Oops. Paul said, “We need to have a talk.” Turns out I’m not so much in recovery on the ‘riding in a car’ portion. Kindly but firmly, my man, who I love dearly, had to tell me my sorry wasn’t cutting it anymore.
It was a too familiar conversation, but this time I heard him. I was making him feel like he was a terrible driver. It didn’t matter that usually my gasps were due to ‘others’ swerves, etc. I was making him feel like he couldn’t take care of me. And to my husband, who loves me completely, that cut him mortally.
My ‘sorry’ has changed to — it’s time to put in the work. I doubt I’ll do it perfectly and I don’t believe that’s what he’s asking for – he knows me. I think he’s asking me to see how my actions and words have an effect on him.
Those two examples have been challenging. One in the far past and one more recent. But at least they are specific and potentially easy to grasp. But what about bigger concepts?
Where else am I taking short cuts and thinking, “I’m sorry,” is enough? Apologies are necessary but they aren’t what changes the course of history. Doing the work, digging out truth, sacrificing for the common good, recognizing personal complicity – these are the action items that prove out behavior change.
This work is hard and never ending. I can’t do this work for anyone but me. I just keep wondering…are there enough people now, who are committed to seeking change?