This post is part of the Coping with… series, in which I will share my experiences with Borderline Personality Disorder. Whether you also have BPD or you struggle with depression, anxiety, and stress, I hope this series will be helpful to you.
Chances are, if you have BPD or any mental disorder, you’ve done a lot of apologizing. Why? Because you’ve probably made a lot of mistakes. We tend to make more mistakes than society deems acceptable. We’re the crazy girlfriends who run through streets screaming “rape” while our bewildered boyfriends chase us. We’re the sloppy drunks who inevitably end up passed out on bathroom floors at every party. We’re the college dropouts who cannot “achieve our potential” no matter how our parents encourage us, threaten us, manipulate us. When we get rich and famous, we’re the ones on the tabloid covers, cheating and getting high and killing ourselves.
It’s no wonder we apologize. We apologize over and over again. We don’t know why we can’t just suck it up and be like everyone else, an upstanding citizen. We believe we are weak, and we try harder. Then we fail, and we apologize some more. At some point, those who love us are sick of our apologies, and those words “I’m so sorry” sound false even to our ears. Inevitably, we come to the conclusion that we are simply bad. That we are terrible people, bad influences for our children, unfaithful lovers to our spouses, unending disappointments to our parents. This realization fills us with shame, which then drives us to commit more mistakes, fueling the cycle once again.
Today, I’m saying these words for all of us, me included, to hear: stop apologizing. Please, for the love of God, stop apologizing. Obviously, I’m not saying that you should avoid “I’m sorry” at all costs. If you hurt someone, apologize. But stop apologizing for who you are. Stop apologizing for the fact that you make “shitty” decisions, for being “weak”, for not being good enough. Stop apologizing for the fact that, on some days, you can’t get out of bed. Stop apologizing for the fact that, on other days, you can’t get in it. Stop apologizing for the fact that, today, homework wasn’t done and job applications weren’t submitted and laundry is yet to be done. Stop apologizing for who you fall in love with. Stop apologizing for not knowing who you are or what you want.
Why? Because you are not who your family, friends, or therapist says you are. Your reality is not theirs and they cannot judge you. You cannot be expected to function according to their rules when you were given a different set of tools to work with. You are not sick; you are simply different. You’re the duck in a gaggle of geese and no matter how much you stretch, your neck will never be as long as theirs. But that’s okay. Because you’re the one with colorful markings and you will never shit as much as they do.
The sad truth is that there will always be more of them than you and they will rarely be able to understand you. So you will have to learn to adapt, to blend in, to interact with them. You will never be the same as them, but you can learn to love them and they you. You can give them a chance to love you, even when by their standards you’re not “worth it”. You’re not the one who gets to decide if you’re worth loving.
If someone is able to see you for who you really are and accept that, listen to them, but never without caution. If someone judges you without knowing you, then tell them to fuck off and don’t apologize for it. Let yourself make mistakes. Make life-changing, earth-shattering, irreversible mistakes and then wake up the next day and realize that you’re just human, like everyone else. So maybe we’re not so different after all.
Do you find yourself apologizing often? Do you ever think of yourself as simply “bad”?