Episode 42 – Over Apologizing


What is “I’m sorry” as a habitual response really about? There’s the preemptive apology that is offered to forestall possible criticism, the apology that evokes reassurance from others, the apology for falling short of perfection…and more. This episode explores developmental, interpersonal, and intrapsychic dynamics of various kinds of habitual apologizing. We’ll be sorry if it falls short of your expectations.

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The Dream:

I’m at a holiday “work party” for the very exclusive private school where I work, but it’s in a big, old, rather shabby hotel that reminds me of a firehouse where my family used to have annual holiday gatherings. I’m mingling among all of the people and (as is true in my conscious life) can’t seem to find a group with which I feel completely comfortable or myself. I feel like a lonely misfit in disguise, feigning conformity and pleasant attitude. I go upstairs to where the bathroom is supposed to be, and it feels very far away from the party–the second floor is creepily empty and quiet, with several large, empty rooms. I don’t remember actually going into a bathroom, but as I’m about to go back downstairs to the party, I see an infant boy teetering at the top of the staircase on the landing. He is far too small to be walking. I immediately pick him up to save him, and he looks up at me, clearly distressed, and begins speaking as a much older child would. I ask him where his mother is, and he says he doesn’t know and is crying. I don’t remember all of what he says, but he tells me that he is in kindergarten. I hold him to my chest and he begins to calm down, eventually falling asleep. I feel affection for him and give him a kiss on the cheek, but I’m alarmed and unsure of what we will do. I go downstairs to the bartender of this party and ask where this boy’s mother might be. He says, “probably in the party upstairs.”  No one at the work party seems to notice or care that I have this lost baby. I go back upstairs, and as before, there is no one there–just an open door exposing a room with these creepy, industrial looking blue closet doors (almost like storage spaces) underneath a fluorescent light. I feel a deep sense that this situation is not right, and a strong determination to get myself and the baby out of there. The dream ends with me standing on the landing, baby still pressed against me. ” 

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Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash