I’ve written before about how I apologize often, and for things that don’t warrant an apology. Like…having feelings. Or…existing. And of course, I’ve written a lot about social anxiety and introversion (those two things do not always go together, but in my case, they do), so a couple of years ago, I started blogging. Really, I started following a couple of bloggers and occasionally privately contacting them. One of these lovely people suggested that I try to replace ‘I’m sorry’ with ‘Thank you.’
Instead of, ‘I’m sorry I’m ranting/crying about this to you,’ I should try saying, ‘Thank you for listening to me.’ It’s been helpful. But oddly, it’s led to this new bug (isn’t that always how it goes? solve one problem…create a new one). Now, I tell people, ‘Thank you,’ for things I used to apologize for, and they invariably say, ‘You don’t have to THANK me, Jen.’ Which is kind. And I understand the intention. But really? I DO *have to* thank you.
Let me see if I can make some sense of myself here for those of you who say this to me fairly regularly by telling a couple of stories about people from my past, and (I know…I do this a lot…it’s a disease) this song that always makes me sad. (‘Jen is an optimist…why is she writing about a sad song here?’ I know…stick with me though.)
I have a hard time sorting out my own feelings and needs. I get other people fairly easily most of the time. Me, though? I’m a mystery to myself. Music and writing help me figure my own shit out. I do repeat the sad song even though it makes me cry. But it’s cathartic and in an odd way, enjoyable. Because it gets the feelings up to the surface and out. So that’s why. It’s also why music inspires me to write often, and gets attached in my head to the things and people I write often.
Jimmy Eat World’s song Hear You Me contains these lyrics…
“I never said ‘thank you’ for that…now I’ll never have a chance.”
I have a long history of hiding pain and need and desire and feelings, even happy ones, because I have a long history of being told point blank that no one wants to hear it. That they don’t need my shit on top of their own shit. Suck it up and deal with it. Grow up. Calm down. You’re overreacting. You’re too sensitive. I don’t have time for this. You expect too much of people…
You all get the picture.
But my grandparents never said those things to me, and they never made me feel defective or shamed or like a burden for having feelings and expressing them, or for just existing in the same space as them, when…for real…damn near everybody else did (and does) make me feel like that. But I was a kid and I was naive and dumb and selfish, like most kids are, so that feeling of calm and acceptance and safety my grandparents gave me…I 100% took it for granted.
*I never said ‘thank you’ for that…now I’ll never have a chance.*
This Jimmy Eat World song makes me cry every single time I hear it. My grandparents (for SURE my grandfather) likely wouldn’t have liked Jimmy Eat World (Grampa would have called them ‘noise’). My grandparents were gone years before this song was even released. But it makes me think about them every time I hear it. But I’m not naive anymore and I try not to be dumb or selfish, so it also makes me motivated to never let another person who makes me feel calm and accepted and safe go taken for granted. I HAVE to say ‘thank you’ now. I’m determined to not let my gratitude and love go unsaid anymore. So I just say it.
It’s why I write about J all the time. It’s why I write about the handful of friends I’ve made who make me feel safe and calm and accepted. It’s why I thank people who read the things I write repeatedly. It’s why I hug the Boy too much and tell him I love him 80 times a day. It’s why I wrote about my dog. I do notice things. And I’m grateful. I’ve never regretted a ‘thank you’ given, even though I’ve said it often to people who are no longer in my life by their choice, and people who didn’t care I said it. But I’m glad I said it. Because I refuse to lose another person, however I lost them, without them knowing I appreciated the things they did for me. My grandparents passed away after literally teaching me how to love…what love WAS…and letting me know that I was okay exactly the way I was, and *I never said ‘thank you’ for that.*
So now, I just say it.
It’s embarrassing sometimes (often).
People tell me I don’t have to say it (but I do).
I think maybe it makes people uncomfortable because I’m so sincere and frank about it. I’ve noticed that a lot of people have a hard time accepting positivity and kindness and gratitude and sincerity if it’s not attached to a little bit of snark and deprecating humor. I get this. I’m one of those people who has a hard time accepting positive attention and kindness. But…I don’t feel snarky or deprecating about the ‘thank you’s.’ They’re real. And they’re necessary for me to say.
Hear you me, my friends.