I once knew a woman who apologized all the time. If she called you on the phone, she’d start with, “Sorry to bother you.” If she walked through the door ahead of you, she’d apologize for that. If we had outdoor plans and it began to rain, she’d apologize for the weather, as if it were her fault.
Everyone around her found this habit to be supremely annoying. Conversations with her would take ten times as long because you had to spend a great deal of time and energy reassuring her, or asking what she was sorry about, or trying to convince her that there was no need to apologize.
After a while it becomes tiresome to try to artificially prop up a grown woman’s rock-bottom self-esteem. Maybe she thought that by making herself seem pathetic she would be more appealing. Maybe she really did feed off of the constant pep talks. I have no idea.
But one day I got into her tiny little car, and as she began to drive, she said, “Sorry. I just had a sandwich with garlic, so I’ll try not to breathe on you.”
Seriously? Did she just apologize for breathing? For BREATHING???
I have to admit that I kind of lost it. It was one of those “come to Jesus” moments when you tell someone the complete, honest, unvarnished truth. I told her what she does. I told her how people feel about it, and how it impacts everyone around her. I told her that she had nothing to be sorry about, and that the only time she ever needs to beg forgiveness is when she causes harm.
Her response? “I can’t change!”
Suddenly I felt exhausted. Life is too short. I tried. But I stopped trying after that. And we drifted apart.