by Nancy Casey
We hear a lot about saying, “I’m sorry.” How hard it can be. How healing it can be. The word itself is connected to ideas of sorrow and difficulty.
Have you ever been pressured to say that you are sorry when really you weren’t? Some people in that situation will just say the words to make the conversation end. Others avoid eye contact, keep silent and endure the discomfort. It’s not often that someone clearly states, “I’m not sorry.” That sentence isn’t part of many recipes for resolving conflicts. Even when it’s true.
So today you are going to write about not being sorry. You will do it using what’s called a “repetitive writing prompt.” The repetitive part is the phrase “I’m not sorry” which you will end up writing over and over again.
Begin by writing “I’m not sorry” without any particular thing in mind. As you write the words, open the imaginary trap door in the back of your brain and see what falls in. Whatever lands there, write it down. Don’t make a big deal of it.
Then begin again. “I’m not sorry…” and finish with the idea that forms in your mind as your write the words. Write the I’m-not-sorry phrase every time. Don’t skip it. Relax into it. With each repetition, your hand works a little bit more automatically, leaving more room in your mind for an idea to spring up.
Let yourself write what you write, however it comes out. Perhaps a couple of words or a sentence. Perhaps a whole big story.
Don’t limit yourself to things that you are not sorry about that other people wish you were sorry about. If “sorry” has to do with sorrow and difficulty, you can find many things to be not-sorry about if you look at the parts of your life that aren’t sad or difficult.
Don’t limit yourself to things that make perfect sense, either. That’s a lot to ask if you are going to write down the first thing that plops into your mind. If you start making demands like “making sense” or “being good” all the ideas will scurry away and the space they could fall into will shrink up. So just take whatever comes. You can decide what you think about it later.
So you might write that you are not-sorry that elephants don’t fly. You might say you are not-sorry it rained yesterday. You can say why, or you can keep that to yourself. When you have written enough about an idea, begin again.
As you write the words “I’m not sorry…” you might recall an important lesson you learned after a mistake that you made. A friendship you value might pop into your head. Angry thoughts could land there, or joyous ones. Write them down and go on to the next one. If you are going to strive at all, strive to be relaxed.
Be sure to give your work a title and write the date on it when you are finished. Here is an example of what you might write.
If you are feeling particularly stuck, you can begin by writing, “I’m not sorry that I woke up alive today.” If you can’t write that, call this number: 1-800-273-8255. Or stop by the Recovery Center, 531 S. Main in Moscow. Lots of people have that thought. It’s worse when you have it alone.
Nancy Casey teaches writing classes at the Recovery Center on Thursdays. Check the calendar for classes and times, or just drop in. All are welcome. She coordinates Recovery Radio, which airs on KRFP 90.3 FM in Moscow, Thursdays at 1:05 PM. Recovery Radio needs on-air and off-air volunteers. Call the Recovery Center 208-883-1045 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.