Have you ever noticed how saying the simple words "I am sorry" is like pulling teeth out of a dinosaur. I am guilty, I don't say it as much as I need to and I am sure you are already shaking your head agreeing.
I overheard a man's conversation on the phone the other day that caught my attention by how angry he was. His body stood straight and stiff, his eyes were narrowed and looking towards the floor like the person he was talking too was right in front of him. The hand that was gripping the phone had white knuckles. Obviously someone on the other end was not saying the things he wanted to hear. He slams the phone down and threw a few F-bombs toward the phone as he walked away.
I stood and watched as he walked off. He was still mumbling under his breath. He walked into his bedroom and slammed the door. Then quickly came back out to ask for one more phone call. He was told he needed to calm down after the call he just made before he made another one. His eyes softened and he said "I have to make one more call. I have to tell her I am sorry I did not mean what I said." His body language spoke with such urgentancy that the staff allowed another quick call. He cried on the phone as he spoke the words "Mom I am sorry I should not have talked to you like that."
As he walked off this time his body was relaxed and his posture spoke a softer language
Relationships are divided, Friends are lost, jobs are damaged, ulcers are developed and high blood pressure rises over not being able to say "I am sorry". Three words that feel like concrete in your mouth when you have to use them because we have to admit we were wrong.
In mental health and in our daily life people spout off things they don't really mean deep down. It is a statement that can be said to cause a painful reaction. Working with men one of the popular words they seem to use are "You're a bitch" which means as a women I told them something they could or could not do and that is a reaction. I do not take that word personally, however if I don't hear it once in a while I wonder what I am not doing right. *wink*. Most of the time they will come back and tell you they are sorry for talking to you rudely and we move past it.
After listening to the mans conversation on the phone one of the staff made a statement that he never says he is sorry – no matter what he has done. I ask why? He said he never has and he want start now. What a line to live by. They are only three words. Saying I am sorry simply means the person you are speaking to means more to you than being right. The EGO gets in the way, research have proven that forgiving any person or making apologies can have positive impact on a person’s health.
I stepped off the unit for a break and took a walk thinking about those words. I noticed more activity at the main highway. I walked to the action and noticed a police car and ambulance sitting at the main entrance which is not an odd site for a hospital. A small crowd of people were standing around talking. Then I saw the sheet lying on the ground, and a car sitting parked in the edge of the field. A man had been hit walking at night in dark clothes on the edge of the road. He was killed instantly by the passing car. I have seen him walk down that road many times as I was coming into work. He lived less than a half mile down the road. He lay there alone, no one standing beside him. I felt sorry for the man. The crowd that was gathered were smoking and chatting as if this were a normal event. For some reason I crossed the road and stood there until the ambulance loaded him on the stretcher. I told him "I am sorry this happened to you." The ambulance driver smiled.
Life is just that fast. We walk along the road and carry bitterness and anger towards someone who usually doesn't even know we are mad. People can't seem to forgive themselves for doing something wrong or for making a mistake. Blood pressure rises, ulcers grow, cancer eats at the body and then they are gone and you cannot use those three little words "I am sorry".
Angela Brooks has worked in a state-funded psychiatric hospital in Kentucky for 21 years as a nurse, assisting sometimes-dangerous patients who come in shackled and cuffed. At AngelaBrook.com, she offers stories of life on the inside of a psychiatric ward, and the site, as well as her company, offers support for nurses in the mental health field and helps them bring passion into their role at work.
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* Please note: I am not here to CURE, DIAGNOSE, Treat or suggest replacements for what a doctor prescribes. The names used in this post are not the real names of the people being mentioned – I am sharing my nursing adventures with you.
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