Monday, April 20, 2015

I'm Not Sorry

I went through a major sea change in my mid forties. I think it was do that or die. And it was not one of those over night changes. But it began there in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on the eve of moving in with John. And it continued through my short marriage and long divorce from him, the death of my father, and then my mother. I had through this time a quote on my refrigerators, (there were several-a different frigs - one for each move):

If I don't manage to fly, someone else will. The spirit wants only that there be flying. As to who happens to do it, She has only a passing interest. Rainer Maria Rilke

In truth it was several prints of this quote because I kept wearing them out. But the computer had entered my life about the same time frame so I could always print another. It was an era of quotes for me. I noted them down in my journals, wrote them on my mirror with eyeliner pencil, pasted them on the dashboard of my car. But this was the one which was not a passing fancy; not merely an affirmation for the moment. I knew in my heart I wanted to fly (even took flying lessons) but I also knew I seemed hopelessly weighted down.

People now talk about uncluttering their lives but they are talking of things. I knew I had to unclutter my life of beliefs, habits, patterns, and even friends and husband. Put 60 people in a room and I will become fast friends with the five most warped and marry one of them. Looking back only the names change. Patterns long held told me I could never fly so impaired.

I was a guilt holder. It is a weighty job. Whatever happened in my family or my life or the lives of those around me, it was my fault. A stranger in the street cussed the rain and I would say, I'm sorry." And I really, really meant it. I would like to say the revelation was from one of the shrinks or one of my many 12 step meetings or group therapy but I think it was a book by John Irving, not that it matters. The writer (or one of his characters) advances the theory that we want to feel guilty as it gives us just a glimmer of power in a world where we feel hopelessly helpless. If it is our fault we can change it.

When I revealed this nugget to a friend in some group I attended she told me to say, Not my fault, anytime I wanted to say, I'm sorry. Act as if it was not my fault. Gradually realized most of what I apologized for wasn't my fault. I no longer say not my fault out loud or even to myself. But yesterday driving to Taos I found myself fabricating apologies. I say fabricating because I did not need to apologize. It was definitely not my fault. But sometimes the old sick thinking comes back and if the real person at fault has not apologized, I think I should, just to fill the void. But it would be a huge step back. It is not my fault.

I might be a bit sorry that things came to this point. It means change. Another step toward being free of what weighs my spirit down. In addition to not having to apologize for what I didn't do wrong I do not have to pick up the pieces.

Another quote but not on my wall was It is hard to soar with eagles when you are flocking with turkeys. It sticks in my mind because it was on the wall over my boss's head when I went to give notice I was quitting. If what I did was wrong why is it I feel so free?


  1. love it, "not my fault!" I need to remember that...

  2. Difficult at first but gets easier. And it is very freeing.

  3. Learning for what we are responsible and what is not on our plate
    is one of life's main challenges. Soar on, you eagle you!


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