Learning to Say I’m Sorry

I love my place in this world. I’m a dad, friend, boyfriend, son, nephew, colleague and much more. In each of those spaces in my life, I love who I’ve become and aspire towards even greater things beyond what I can foresee. I enjoy every aspect of being a dad, watching my son mature slowly but surely into the man he wants to be. Over the years, I’ve seen him evolve from someone who struggled to communicate with words about his feelings, to someone who wants to share his story of depression and anxiety with others, and find healing for himself at the same time. I applaud his courage and most of all his awareness. I love being D’s boyfriend because I’ve finally met someone who I can be myself with. D makes sense to me and being with her inspires me to grow to become an even more supportive man for her, her kids and my son.

Communicating hasn’t always been easy for me. If I had a problem, or felt a little anxious or depressed, I bottled up my feelings. I’d hang on to my feelings of stress and take it out on others, passively or sometimes directly with spiteful words. And saying sorry for my behavior was out of the question. Sorry? What does that mean anyway?

I’ve learned over the years that saying sorry is just part of the apology. As tough as it is to say I’m sorry, I’ve learned how important it is to empathize the other person’s feelings. The other day, I was feeling a little off and wasn’t sure why exactly. Perhaps work was starting to pile on, or maybe I was realizing that summer is soon to be winding down. I felt myself being a little short and impatient with my son when he was taking his time with his day, when mine was a little busier. Though I didn’t snap or raise my voice at all, I felt a little annoyed and chose not to communicate my feelings. I didn’t like how I was feeling and I also didn’t like the not-so-positive vibes I was sending his way. By the end of the evening, I came to my senses and knew I needed to step up with my communication. But before I did, I sat with my feelings of impatience, anxiety, discomfort and annoyance and acknowledged that these are feelings I created in myself, and has nothing to do with my son. I meditated and recognized that I felt a momentary lack of control in my life. I was lacking control with the outcome of my work and lacking control of what the future holds. When I acknowledged that I was feeling a lack of control, that was the aha moment for me where I could come to a peaceful resolution in myself. I meditated some more, and spoke to my inner child about learning to let go, and to merely focus on the present. After 20 minutes of solid meditation and realization, I knew I needed to take ownership of my behavior.

I went over to my son’s room and sat down comfortably, arms open and said to him that I wanted to apologize to him for my recent behavior. He immediately knew what I was talking about and acknowledged that he felt a little tension between us. I told him that I was sorry and how uncomfortable it must have made him feel. I didn’t finger point and didn’t try to justify my actions. I simply apologized because it was no one else’s fault, other than my own. He accepted my apology and asked me what else was on my mind, because he knew this wasn’t a regular type of behavior from me. I explained to him about my stresses with work and how I felt I needed to be more in control of the outcome. As those words spilled out from my mouth, I remembered a recent mantra that my son ironically shared with me: I surrender myself to the attachment to the outcome, and simply allow the Universe to tell me what to do and to show me where to go.

I explained that I had an underlying need to feel control of a situation (which is where a lot of our anxiety comes from), and when I released that control, my anxiety started to diminish.

The both of us agreed the dialogue was beneficial to the both of us and I thanked my son for listening and for accepting my apology. Learning to say sorry to someone for your actions isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, because you’re able to lean into that feeling of discomfort that you feel when you’ve hurt someone. I for one am glad I faced my feelings of discomfort, knowing I hurt someone and can take ownership for it. It’s a testament to my work and also demonstrates I’m capable of being a better man than I was before. Finally, after an apology, there’s action steps. Sometimes taking action can be to physically make up for a mistake you’ve made, but sometimes it can be to take action with yourself. In my case, taking action often means delving deeper into understanding my mistakes and learning not to repeat unhealthy patterns.

I looked back on my previous life and wondered if I only had the sense to dig deeper into my feelings, and learned to apologize for my actions, would I have been able to nurture those past relationships? Perhaps. But, I quickly came to a peaceful resolution that I needed to go through those hard times, in order to learn the powerful lessons for the more meaningful relationships I have today. After all, what matters most is the present and the people who are in it right now. Everything and everyone has their purpose and time.

Published by Jason Lee, Author

There’s something greater to be learned in our journey otherwise life would just be too predictable and I’m not quite willing to accept that!

2 thoughts on “Learning to Say I’m Sorry

  1. What a thoughtful, self-aware and compassionate post, Jason – especially the interaction with your son.. what a loving and nourishing role model you are for him. I often find myself in a similar place of self-inquiry..like yesterday, after an outburst towards my sister – for nothing she said, mind you, nor deserved; it was my old pattern, triggered from nothing monumental, which I explained to her – and she knows – amounted to yet one more inexplicable ‘unleashing’ of so many years of bottling up my feelings (i.e.: no permission to express them), from childhood and into adulthood. Afterwards, feeling pained and bereft for what I lobbed at her, I spent a good few hours dissecting what I’d done, and, of course, as I always do, I apologized profusely. It’s a tricky thing though, to learn how to apologize when you’ve grown up with a parent who has NEVER done so. Like, ever. So where do we learn healthy behaviours, non-violent communication, if not from our elders?
    Also: If you haven’t watched or listened to Brene Brown’s chat with Harriet Lerner, please do. It was a reminder of all that I’ve been trying to learn: https://brenebrown.com/podcast/harriet-lerner-and-brene-im-sorry-how-to-apologize-why-it-matters/. Also, there’s Harriet’s new book called Why Won’t You Apologize?; it’s on my reading list 😉 Stay safe and true


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