I don’t think I have any more apologies residing within me. This requires me to start from the top: I didn’t grow up knowing that my womanhood would always be resorted to my abundance of emotions. There were so many things in the world that were never my own doing but I felt responsible for. What was harder to deal with was that growing up I was always blamed for being so apologetic and sad because of my unstable emotional state. I would ask my grandmother how she would deal with these feelings of, say, rejection or not feeling good enough for saying something that inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings. Her answer was always the same, and still is as I’m older, which was, “Shit happens.”
As a kid, this term upset me for reasons that it took for an older Jade to comprehend. It was dismissive is why. It dismissed my feelings and never truly helped me understand why I couldn’t stop being sorry so much. It didn’t answer anything for me other than the fact that I was an anxiety ridden child.
I apologized to teachers when I felt as though I failed myself instead of them not helping me. I apologized to friends when my feelings would become hurt from their harsh words. I apologized to boys for being fat and in the way. I remember being sorry once for never being enough for anyone. It didn’t matter what I said or what happened because my sorries weren’t going to stop the natural order of shit happening no matter how hard I cried. It’s no surprise that I’m sensitive as hell, but I’ve also lived this life of being apologetic for things that were beyond my control for way too long. I’ve lived in this falsehood that I was required to apologize for my hurt feelings, my bruised ego, my wounded heart, my honesty, and even for my womanhood.
What made me take back all my sorries was the fact that I learned that I had nothing to be sorry for. It was actually because of a man, several men if I can be honest. It wasn’t long ago that I proclaimed the feminist title, adding it to my resume of life principles. There aren’t any actual requirements, I’ve learned. You stand up for what’s right, what’s fair for women among men, and you be the kind of women you want to be unapologetically. There aren’t any rules, either. You don’t have to burn bras (if you don’t want to), you don’t need to yell about your pussy (unless you want), and you don’t have to hate men (unless you do).
I don’t hate men, by the way. It could seem that I do, but no, I don’t. I don’t hate anyone except for people who are against my own betterment and who actually hates me for my black womanhood. I won’t apologize for that. Maybe that’s the true reason behind this post. Men have come into my life and before I was woke with eyes wide open, I was a women who apologized for everything. I apologized for my sexual partners, for the number of them, too. I apologized for “putting myself in the position” to get molested and sexually assaulted. I apologized for being too emotional “just as women are”. I even apologized for my depression and a disease that later occurred in my life and cannot be cured.
I used to feel a remorse of sorts when I would be happy in my skin and happy to show my breasts in a damn good bra. I used to apologize for liking the attention. At some point in my life I even apologized for liking sex so much I wanted to talk about it. I used to even apologize on my own behalf for not enjoying sex when it wasn’t particularly enjoyable to begin with. I apologized for my body as if it were not my own. I would say sorry for what my body used to do on it’s own and for what my body couldn’t do and wasn’t ever going to do.
I used to apologize for loving too much. I have even opened my mouth to apologize for not loving someone in return. I have apologized for my womanhood so many time. I’ve given apologies for the things that make me happy to be a woman and a proud woman at that. In essence, I would be guilty of my joy of being a strong and now proud black woman.
I would even apologize for men manipulating me into thinking that I was the problem, that my mental competence wasn’t enough to be with them when it was never me at all. I’ve said sorry for my meltdowns, for when a crisis came into my life and only I could fix it. I would say sorry for crying, then soon I’d say it for even talking about it to someone who said they cared.
I have apologized for being like my mother even when I have never even resembled her in my actions.
Even now I feel the need to apologize for attacking almost every man in my life, except I won’t. I will never.
Thankfully there aren’t only men to blame. There are women I can blame for looking at me like trash, for furthering the name calling, and giving these men power to feel superior over me. I blame other women who’ve shunned me for my eccentric behavior, for my shameless admission of my alternative sexuality, and even those who continue to perpetuate that my love for other women is to satisfy a man’s desire to see girl-on-girl action. I blame other women for me feeling the need to say sorry when they policed the ways I dressed or ridiculing me for the things I shared in relationships because of their idea that he desires to know less of me in order to want me. There have been women who even apologized for me, making the womanly guilt even stronger. That’s another rule about feminism I had to learn: just because I care about the betterment of all women doesn’t mean I have to always like all women.
Motherhood didn’t abolish this scrutiny either. There were times before when I’d indulge in something not seen as a “role model” action to be met with the guilt of wondering what my daughter, in her older years, would think of me. It bothered me for a while, what she would think of me when she read my words about my life being depressed, sad, eccentric, funny, kinda raunchy, and completely creative. My response now is what it will always be: I am my own person who is also a mother. I am her mother and protector in all ways, but I will not sacrifice the slice of myself to be deemed as forever perfect by her or anyone else who comes into my life. I am human and always will be. Because the truth of the matter is that I can no longer apologize for who I once was or for who people think I may be. I am my own person, doing things for myself as a tired and beaten woman first. The well-being of me is what’s most important for her, and for everyone around me.
What I can apologize for is my sincere disinterest in being this woman of shame and fear. I can apologize for not believing “shit happens” and that we all aren’t stoic creatures who will abide by a man’s desire simply because we want them to love us. I am sorry for no longer being sorry, for no longer being held to this unreasonable standard of being a woman who keeps her desires hidden and sits patiently on my knees for every man in my life. I am not sorry that I am not a woman made to be the spitting image of some man’s idea of his own kind of perfection.
I’m not sorry that I’m not in your perfect image. I’m not sorry that I am a black woman who has to constantly fight for her worth in the world. I’m simply sorry you don’t get it.