Apologising has never been so prevalent in my life since the alien came. I’ve apologised for not being able to be with my mam as much, to my partner for my unpredictable wobbles and tears and to my friends for being non-committal with plans. People tell me it’s OK – I still apologise.
My mam has apologised for being tired, for ‘not having much crac’, for being emotional and for a multitude of other things. I tell her it’s OK – she still apologises.
In the past week or so Luke Ambler’s campaign #itsoktotalk has really gathered momentum over social media and so it should. The campaign is predominantly to encourage men to talk openly about their problems and wellbeing after Ambler’s brother-in-law took his own life, with no warning. The single biggest killer of men aged under 45 is suicide. 41 per cent of men who contemplated suicide felt they couldn’t talk about their feelings.
Both personally and professionally it has always been important for me to talk openly about myself and what I’m going through and for those around me to know that they can too – without apologising.
Growing up, lots of people used to ask about my hemiplegia. My mam and dad helped me find my words to explain it from a very young age, so I could always say it, unapologetically. I already had (and have) enough awkwardness, trip-ups and frustrations with it, without feeling like I couldn’t say those things out loud.
Keeping something bottled up, apoligising for something that is intrinsically you is corrosive and can be fatal, whatever that thing is. Pretending to be anything else other than your true, authentic self, day by day, is no way to live. Stop apologising and own your aliens! They are what make you who you are, they belong to nobody else and therefore nobody needs, or can ask for, an apology.
My mam has always had a phrase which is “Those that mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind” – it’s so true.
So to my mam who is fighting every day, my friend who feels guilty for finding motherhood hard, a colleague who is tired due to her full-on family and work life, to those who are struggling and trying to stay strong, to children with hemiplegia who are trying to find their words and their own way, those who are taking the first steps to ask for help, those who are hesitant to be themselves or are apologising for doing so – never be afraid to talk; to say how you’re feeling, what you’re thinking and who you are! Staying quiet or apologising will not make things any better.
What will make things better, is if we each make a commitment to letting everybody know it is OK to talk; that you will listen and they do not have to apologise for being honest with you. Share concerns, show tears, ask for help, celebrate good days and small victories; the more we each do that, the more those around us who are struggling will hopefully see it is OK to do the same.
Own your aliens. Be 100% yourself. Be 100% unapologetic.
Say it as it is.
First published by The Huffington Post U.K.