I’ve always been worried about offending people. Even when I was a kid, I was sensitive to the thought of hurting someone’s feelings or making them mad. High school was the same thing, and so was work. In the evenings, I’d worry over conversations I’d had earlier in the day, re-running them through my head to see if there was something that I’d said that could’ve been taken the wrong way or something that I should have said or not said. As I got older, I found that I was not only re-running through conversations that day, but I was still going over conversations I’d had days, months, or years ago, too.
It is very difficult for me to just accept that someone from twenty years ago isn’t still mad about something I’d said or done. Even now, I worry about stuff that happened decades ago. Is Chris mad at me for accidentally hitting him in the eye with a snowball back in Grade 4? Is Greg upset because when I was twelve I launched his little foam plane it hit the ground and broke? Is my dad still upset that I didn’t follow his instructions and got the pellet gun jammed up back when I was 13? Is my mom upset because one Christmas I told her that I already knew what Grandma had sent? Is my sister angry that we didn’t play her Sweet Valley High board game more? Is J upset that we didn’t go and play badminton out at the park nearby ten years ago? Is FA mad that I broke her little hand mirror 23 years ago? Is DA mad that I accidentally bumped his ATV trailer into a tree?
I could go on and on.
I feel silly apologizing for things that happened years or decades ago but they eat away at me, and the people who I have apologized to have all said they don’t even remember the incident, or they do remember and they weren’t upset at the time. It doesn’t matter though – like I said, it eats away at me. That’s why when I think I’ve done something wrong now, I apologize profusely. Sometimes too profusely. There are times when people get irritated at my apologies, and what can I possibly say to them about that?
The worst part is that apologizing right when I think I may have said or done something wrong doesn’t keep me from running through that conversation or event over and over again in my head. It’s like I’m stuck in some kind of anxiety loop where I’m worried I’ve offended someone but also worried that they said not to worry about it just to shut me up or make me feel better while inside, they’re seething.
Dr C, Dr W, and the staff at the hospital have all told me (several times) that I am not responsible for other peoples’ thoughts or emotions. Of course, if I’m wandering around and trying to upset someone, that’s a different story, but if I’m just going about my day and having a normal conversation, it’s not up to me what other people think. This is very difficult for me to accept. I want people to be happy and definitely don’t want people to be angry, upset, or disappointed with me. I wish I could say I have a solution to the problem, but I don’t. Not yet, at least.