I feel the urge to apologize, ALL THE TIME, and I suspect many of you do as well. At times, I even feel the need to apologize out of fear that I’m inconveniencing something – and I haven’t done anything wrong. However, there are times when most definitely DO NOT need to apologize.
I was reminded of this today while reading A Dog Named Slugger, a memoir by Leigh Brill, a lady with cerebral palsy. At one point, she tells the story about a an attempted sexual assault – TRIGGER WARNING. Her date is a man named Joe, who also has a disability.
“Come on, baby,” he murmured, “you’re smart enough to know none of the guys out there want you. Of course they don’t; you’re a cripple. Thing is, that’s no problem for me. I mean I have those.”
He jerked his left arm up and out, gesturing toward his crutches … Joe’s eyes locked on mine. His tongue flicked out … I didn’t look at him. I dropped my gaze and curled my sweaty fingers into a ball. Uneasiness tightened my throat; it lifted the delicate hairs on my nape …
Suddenly he threw himself on top of me. I was pinned against the mattress. “Don’t you get it?” he said again. “You and me, we’re a match. It’s a cripple thing.”
“Cripple thing, my ass!” I shoved against him with all my strength. He rolled off me awkwardly, grunted. I was suddenly full of adrenaline and rage. “Get out! Now!”
Joe retrieved his crutches and stood up slowly. Crimson faced, he said, “… you can’t blame a guy for trying.”
“Screw you!” I hissed …
The door slammed. I crumpled onto my bed then and held my breath, listening to the steady clicking of retreating crutches.
Leigh’s reaction was spot-on and needless of an apology; however, I guarantee you that some of us would feel the need to apologize, perhaps even feel compelled to explain to him why his behavior was so egregious.
Most situations aren’t so dramatic, but the frequent urge to apologize – for anything or nothing at all – can be exhausting and demoralizing to the best of us.