“It is hard. And I’m not sorry.” I learned this phrase from a parent who used it in a difficult conversation with school officials. The conversation was about a curriculum choice that in the parent’s view perpetuated racial stereotypes. When the parent acknowledged that conversations about race can be difficult the school official interrupted saying, “No, no. You don’t need to be sorry.” The parent responded, “It ishard. And I’m notsorry.”
“It is hard. And I’m not sorry,” is my new go to phrase for those conversations where the stakes are high, the outcome uncertain, and I have to take a risk. It could be talking with a friend about my hurt feelings, a discussion to hold a co-worker accountable, or conversation with a neighbor about a racial slur.
“It is hard,” acknowledges that I’d rather be anywhere else, like at a dentist appointment, bathing suit shopping, or spending hours waiting on a car repair surrounded by the smell of tires, than in this conversation at this particular time. The topic could be emotionally charged or politically potent. Maybe it’s embarrassing or awkward. “It’s hard,” spoken or thought, helps me have compassion for myself and my conversation partner as we stumble through saying what we mean in a way that can be understood.
“And I’m not sorry,” helps me summon the courage for the conversation. I don’t have to apologize for bringing up issues that make others uncomfortable. I owe it to myself to enter the fray. I regret more things I didn’t say than things I did. My mouth can be a steel trap, keeping big feelings, hard questions and unpopular truths locked inside. I wonder how my life would be different if I had been able to say what I really meant.
Knowing when to speak up or be silent is a challenging line to walk. I’ve made mistakes on both sides of it.
I’d like to learn how to make better decisions quicker.
Something my daughter learned in a therapy group and shared with me: The harder the truth to tell, the better the friend who tells it.
that’s so true, Debbie. As people in my work say, “That’ll preach.”
All of this rings true (Debbie’s comment as well). I will add this to my favorite Melissa-isms, including no more “I’m sorry, but…”
Thanks, Erin. Wish I could claim this as my own but it was totally taught me by someone else.