I Don't Say Sorry Anymore

My Mom must be so disappointed, my Dad must be rolling over in his grave, since my manners shot straight out the window and right down the drain.

I don't say Sorry anymore.

Sorry is too heavy for any heart to carry; burdened with sorrow and remorse. If a word could round it's back and hang it's head, taking a small step backwards with a sigh of self hatred, Sorry would be it. Sorry has nothing to do with what was said or what was done, and everything to do with what you have come to believe of yourself.

Sorry is nothing more than digging up the dead of your past, just so you can try and watch it die it all over again.

Sorry is just a tiny, small version of yourself that lives within, who spends her days drafting lists of your shortcomings and tallying regrets, who falls from your mouth in the shameful shape of a needless apology. Sorry gathers her shackles from your own expectations, so she can keep you small and stuck alongside her.

Addiction is a spiritual disease, independent of whatever it is you believe; whether it's God or Buddha, Jehova or the Universe, addiction itself is universal. It's the desperate clinging to things without so you can fill up the void of things within, and it doesn't care if you're white, black or purple or where you call home; it carves out a hollow for Sorry to thrive.

Sorry moves into your soul with a sort of dampness that turns it into a cave. And she lives there, collecting your self-hatred like shells on a beach.

When I first stepped into recovery, I wore Sorry like my favourite suit of armour. I thought it would protect me from all the truths that were thrown at me like javelins, valiantly confessing that "I'm sorry, I deserved that," and "I'm sorry for all I've done." I wanted to apologize to everyone, including myself and my sorry state of affairs. I wanted to scream Sorry! from the rooftops like it was my rooster call that I was, at long last, awake, despite the crusty remorse from my drawn out sleep still dried up around my eyes.

My amends were inside out and my apologies were flawed; the chinks in my armour of Sorry's-strung-together only left me feeling heavier and more exposed than before. For all the Sorry!'s I would offer to lighten my guilt-laden load, the more weighed down I became. The more I listed my faults and sat with my wrongs, the less in love with myself I felt.

It was as if every Sorry! reminded me of everything wrong with myself, that I was trying so badly to overcome, and showing everyone else in case they forgot, that I wore my flaws like tattoos.

Where Sorry! chipped away at me, breaking me down into smaller, broken pieces of myself, Thank You! began to bind everything back together.

I stopped saying Sorry!, hoping to be redeemed and in some way undo all that was done. I stopped saying Sorry!, wishing all that I drank could somehow be undrunk. I stopped asking for forgiveness, as though my sins could be bleached clean like stains from long ago spilled wine.

I stopped making myself small in the shadow of my good intentions.

And it was only when I began offering my gratitude instead of asking forgiveness that all the horrible awfuls I was dragging behind me started to fall away. It was then that I slowly stopped crumbling, and gradually began healing. Instead of "I'm sorry for all the years I spent wasted and drunk, like the worst friend ever," I've learned to say "Thank you for being so patient while I was so lost, and thank you for loving me unconditionally". Rather than saying "I'm sorry for all the times I cancelled our plans" or "I'm so sorry that I'm late," I've began saying with sincerity, "Thank you for understanding how my addiction made me isolate" and "Thank you so much for waiting for me while I was on my way."

Sorry! makes you less, while Thank You! makes you more.

Where Sorry! stirs up negativity and guilt, causing a dark shadow of shame that requires a two-step to climb out of, Thank You! is brimming with appreciation and gratitude, building both of you up, instead of just knocking yourself down.

Thank You! has helped me shift how I think of myself and my addiction, and I get to remind people that they're awesome, instead of stirring up reasons why I might suck. It's proven to be one of my strongest supports while I learn to walk again in recovery. Sorry! on the other hand is a tiny, angry little lumberjack, wielding her axe at my shins always cutting me down, making me smaller, shorter, less than; always closer to the mud that I'm trying to grow out of.

I wanted to escape my addiction because I had run out of strength to wallow in my sea of Sorry's any longer. 

And yet at first, I brought them with me.

I carried them in jars as though they were my treasured and watery penance, sloshing around and spilling themselves everywhere. It wasn't until I poured them out once and for all, and filled them instead with gratitude and appreciation did all I was carrying grow infinitely lighter.

I stopped asking people to place forgiveness in those jars, and started asking them to remove some gratitude from them, instead.

I've turned my apologies inside out; all of my Sorry!'s falling from the satchel of regret I strung for so long over my shoulder, giving space to fill it twice as quickly with positive, healing gems of gratitude.

Thank You! is made up of two parts – the Thanker, and the You. I'm Sorry! is as lonely as addiction – it's just you, and the awkward idleness of your apology, hanging in the air between wanting forgiveness and wanting to run.

Thank You gives, whereas Sorry only takes.

So, there is no room in my sobriety for Sorry's any longer, because I don't say Sorry anymore. I spent far too long consumed in the sadness of addiction to keep offering pieces of it over and over again, like shallow sacrifices held up in hopeful trade for redemption.

And, the first person I had to learn how to thank – was myself. 

No longer lamenting what cannot be changed. No longer trying to absolve myself of guilt for having drank away days, nights and countless opportunities. No longer living like a lesser version of myself, somehow inferior and small, as though my addiction had shrunk me.

Living like that does not beg for an apology, it begs for celebration.

To thank myself for this second, third, tenth chance at living. To thank myself for sobriety, which has washed all the reasons for my Sorry's out to sea. To thank myself for standing up against one of the strongest demons of addiction: the need to fill myself with reasons why I'm not good enough.

Sorry, not sorry. With thanks,

xo. SJ.

Sober, alcohol free recovery blogger.

Photographer. Writer. Ex-Blackout Artist.

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