It might seem childish on my part to be so bothered by it; but taking my brother (and his significant other) on vacation and not inviting me has been a reoccurring theme that has happened 10 times in my life. It has lead me to have a resentment and strained relationship with my parents and my brother. It also has lead me down this path of introspection and taught me a valuable lesson.
“I’m sorry you feel that way,” is something I heard over and over growing up. I didn’t realize what a backhanded apology it was till I was 28 and pregnant with my son. My parents took my younger brother and his girlfriend to Mexico for vacation and didn’t invite my (now ex) husband, daughter, or me to go along. Even if I would have said no to the invite, I still wasn’t invited and that hurt.
So hearing “I’m sorry you feel that way,” isn’t an apology, it isn’t even an excuse, it’s a big ole “I don’t really give a fuck about you or your feelings.” That inability to empathize with why my feelings were hurt, is what makes it sting so bad.
“I’m sorry we didn’t invite you because you have a family and frankly we don’t want to pay for you all to join us,” would be a better apology than “Sorry you feel that way.” At least then I can understand with why I’m not invited. I can accept that as the reason I wasn’t invited and move on. Being told that I shouldn’t feel the way I feel isn’t something I can accept.
Why is it that I have this inability to say to my parents, “You know what? You really hurt my feelings when you don’t invite us to things or the fact that you have seen my brother in a completely different state more than you have your own grandchildren 3 hours away.”
Is it because I’m thankful they have financially helped me in the past? Partly.
Is it because I am afraid I will hear some lame excuses? A little.
Or is it because I am afraid I will hear “I’m sorry you feel that way,” with nothing else said about it? Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner.
My mother was a good mother in the sense that she provided me with a fun childhood but emotionally she taught me to “sweep everything under the rug.” Which isn’t her fault, that was what she was taught. But, I’m not a “Sweep It Under the Rug” Type of Person. I am a “Bottle It Up Until You Explode,” Type of Person.
This lead to outbursts over and over again growing up. My mother blamed it on my personality, but looking back I realize it was because I wasn’t allowed to feel my feelings. If I was sad, I was told not to cry because crying shows weakness. If I was mad, to keep it to myself because anger doesn’t do any good. If I was upset, just think about the positive, that it could have been worse, or it wasn’t meant to be.
I wasn’t allowed to feel my feelings. Once I realized this, I learned how to correctly voice/state/feel my feelings without being told I “shouldn’t feel that way.” Now I get over things much faster. I don’t explode anymore. I learn from my experiences and take those lessons with me.
With my children, I used to tell them not to cry or that they shouldn’t be upset. Things my mother used to say to me. I make a conscious effort to not say these things and promote my children expressing their feelings in a healthy manner. I also noticed their amount of emotional outburst has gone down. They are better able to communicate how they are feeling and why they are feeling it. I also make sure never to tell them or anyone else, “I’m sorry you feel that way.”
Now if only I could get my mother to understand this.
P.S. If you ever read this Mom and it hurts your feelings, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Just kidding. Sort of.