I Am Sorry
My father, who recently died, came to me in a dream last night. All he repeated was, “I am sorry.”
I miss my father. He suffered from depression for the last few years of his life. At 91 he had a lengthy and mostly happy life until his vision and hearing went.
“I am sorry” was hard to stomach. It reminded me of how I was trained to punish myself when I did something wrong. As a child, I had to “Go to my room” and think about what I did. No TV, no games. As an adult I found myself doing this same thing to me! I would make myself feel bad as if it was a penance to others – but who? Basically, I was making myself feel bad as a repetition from my childhood. It appeared that my father was doing this to him right now.
Why do we continue to punish ourselves? I often ask this in our therapy groups. Does harming ourselves make something right? I always ask, “How can we find the light through the dark”?
When we do something that we are sorry for, it is simply information and an opportunity to learn and grow.
Dad, if you are reading this, what did you learn and how do you intend to grow from it? Also, just remember that you were an amazing soul who taught me and a host of others, unconditional love.
Self-punishment can be multigenerational. According to Family Systems, if your family of origin did something, you do the same. Murray Bowen, the innovator of the Family Systems approach worked with people to “individuate” from their family of origin and become their own person.
I used to punish my daughter when she did something wrong. My partner once asked me, why I was doing this. This stopped me in my tracks. I started to ponder the reason why. My response was, it was done to me so I thought this was how everybody parented.
We learn through trial and error. We fell a lot before we learned how to walk. Could you imagine having to say you’re sorry after each fall and go to your room? This pertains to life. We all screw up. Does this make us all screw-ups? No. It shows that we are in the middle of the learning process and we have the opportunity to try something that would be more beneficial.
I am sorry. That is quite an affirmation. For you spiritual types out there, the words “I am” are the name of God. “I am” before any statement puts the power of God into it. “I am sick” “I am stupid” “I am no good”, if you want to invest your energy into the problem and avoid focusing on the solution, you can do so, or you can focus on improving yourself. It is optional to beat yourself up while you grow.
Why do we punish ourselves? Maybe because we believe others will be punishing us, so if we did this maybe it wouldn’t feel so bad when they did? Trying to make sense out of our ingrained beliefs can create headaches. Where did our ancestors get this stuff from in the first place?
Dad, I know you weren’t proud of your later years. I knew your body was shutting down. I am not sorry that I love you, learned about life from you, and carry on your legacy because you were a great man. You were the person who I turned to when I wanted to give up in school when things got too difficult in my relationships, and with my business. Your apology is accepted and now go forward and enjoy your transition. Grandma is waiting for you with open arms. I love you.
Compassionate Care is Always Available
There are many more tools and strategies you can use in your pursuit of happiness. Here is where we come in. Contact us at Basic Steps Mental Health and let us support and educate you on this journey back to your loving heart center. Imagine living a heart-centered life, regardless of what is happening externally. We’d love to be of help.
For 25 years, Dr. Scott Alpert, the clinical director of Basic Steps Mental Health, has treated over 7,000 people with mental health and addiction problems, using a Psychological approach that mixes and matches ten of the top approaches used in the industry. We are here virtually and in-person to help you get through this COVID-19 pandemic and many other difficulties you may be experiencing.
May you have good mental health.