I’m trying to apologise less. I say sorry a lot: last week I apologised when someone pushed roughly past me on the street and knocked the post-GP-appointment doughnut out of my hand. It’s a much less sexy 2020 goal, but this year I have been trying to be conscious of how often I say sorry.
Content note for suicide and mental illness.
How many times have we heard that women have a lower threshold for what constitutes offensive behaviour since that 2010 study? While, I don’t think we should need cisnormative science to point to and prove that afab folks’ lived experiences are real, but I am glad we’re talking about this. And yes, we might have been talking about it for ten years, but that doesn’t mean that women and socialised as femme folks aren’t still apologising more.
I feel like I apologise all the time. I apologise for swearing too much, for talking too much, and for asking stupid questions that probably aren’t that stupid. Sometimes I feel like I say sorry so much that I sometimes feel that I’m trying to fold myself up so small that I can pretend that I don’t exist.
I apologise when I can’t stop crying. I apologise when it takes me longer than three days to get reply to an email. I apologise when I send a friend half a dozen messages in a row because I’m excited to share something with them, because I start to worry that they’ll see the six new notifications from me and think I’m ‘too much’.
I apologise for being too much.
I apologise when I think I’m talking to loudly. I apologise when I am open about needing to buy pads. I apologise when it takes me an extra thirty seconds to pack my groceries into the bag I bought, and I feel like the whole queue at the supermarket checkout is looking at me at me in hatred for holding them up.
I apologise when I dare to admit that I want to kill myself.
I apologise when I think I’m being too horny, even with folks who have assured me that they love to hear all my pervy thoughts. I apologise when I have to ask for clarifications so I can be sure I get something right when I’ve been commissioned to write something. I apologise when I don’t want to have sex but feel like I owe someone a fuck or a more flirty version of myself.
Of course, I also apologise when I genuinely fuck up. Which I do, with a frequency that makes me worry that I’m secretly an awful person. I still want to own my mistakes, to acknowledge my flaws and work on being a better person. Wanting to apologise less doesn’t mean not admitting my mistakes or saying sorry when I’ve actually hurt someone. Wanting to apologise less means not saying sorry because I dare to exist.
I don’t have to say sorry for taking up space, for talking loudly, for being my queer, trans, unashamed sex-positive self… so why do I feel like I do?
Why do I feel so worthless? Why do I feel like I’m an idiot every time I open my mouth? Why do I feel like I need to say sorry for every five seconds? Oh yes, because I’m an afab person in a misogynistic society. I’m a disabled person in an ableist society. I’m queer and trans in a society that hates queer and trans people.
There’s internalised sexism, queerphobia and ableism in me that I still haven’t fully unlearned. There’s also my depression and anxiety, and together they all team up to to tell me that I’m worthless and stupid. My mind lies, telling me that I should just shut up, that everyone hates me.
Instead of apologising all the time, I try to say thank you more. No more I’m sorry for taking so long to reply and more thank you for your patience. No more I’m sorry for moaning so much and more thank you for listening to me vent. No more I’m sorry dumping these emotions on you and more thank you for supporting me when I’m struggling.
No more I’m sorry for daring to exist… but I’m also not being thankful that I’m allowed to take up space. We shouldn’t have to be thankful for just being allowed to exist by the folks who try and tell us that we shouldn’t have a voice.
I should say sorry if I talk about sex too loudly in a vanilla space where I might make people uncomfortable. However, I don’t have to apologise for calling out cis folks who tell a trans sex blogger that they shouldn’t publicly name and shame someone who repeatedly got their pronouns wrong.
I should also say sorry if I spill for coffee in someone’s lap as I make my way through a crowded Starbucks. But I don’t have to apologise when someone else takes my toasted marshmallow hot chocolate because they can’t get their head around the idea that I ordered first and thus will get my drink before their double-shot latte, no matter how much of a rush they might be in.
I’m trying to apologise less because most of the time I’m not saying sorry because I hurt someone, I’m saying sorry for daring to take up space. If I’m a little more brusque or direct as I stop apologising for existing, I’m sorry about that.
Wait – no, I’m not.
Vulnerability is hard, y’all, and it would mean a lot if you could support me so I can keep baring my soul on the internet. If you liked this post, please consider leaving me a tip so I can keep my blog running and keep bringing you my confessions and sex stories in 2020.
Quinn Rhodes (he/him) is a queer, trans, disabled sex blogger. He’s a sex nerd with vaginismus who writes about his adventures in learning to fuck without fucking up. Quinn can usually be found wearing stomp-on-the-patriarchy boots while falling in love every time he fucks. For his less explicit content on trans inclusivity, check out whatsinyourpants.co.