San Francisco, California

Between the Third and Fifth Apology

“I’m sorry,” I repeat for the sixth or maybe even the seventh time. The bespectacled figure on the video tilts his head, looks up from his notes at me. Somewhere between the third and fifth apology I notice that he has all the discipline of timeless and inanimate matter; he doesn’t get uncomfortable no matter how paralyzing the silence becomes. But I must fill the space, because it’s me: “I am...uhhh...,” I laugh nervously. “...I’m extremely sorry.” I say once again, for good measure.

After a prolonged beat—nations rise and fall, the Anthropocene is washed away by centuries of bombardment by wind and rain only until the passage of time itself comes to a crashing halt because the heat death of the universe has fizzled out until all of us are absolute nothing—my therapist finally replies: “Why are you sorry?”


This week I had my first real go at this stuff. My therapist’s voice is upsettingly calm and collected, whereas I’m just this live-wire of nerves, or sometimes I’m just a guilty pile of clothes on the floor, and then out of nowhere this wild, uncontrollable, unfathomable loneliness and anger and self-loathing comes rushing towards me from all directions.

I probably shouldn’t write about this stuff, huh.

I’ve tried the whole distant-not-talking-about-it-thing, I’ve tried speaking with friends and people I love. I’ve tried writing about it, ignoring it, hiding from it, working out until I can no longer physically have emotions or calories left over to spend thinking about it.

But none of it worked. So: therapy.

If I’m honest I’ve been struggling for a while. Two years ago I started therapy but it felt like yet another unhealthy relationship I had to juggle, a performance for me to enact or a weekly show that I put on for a stranger’s entertainment. I would spend the whole session making jokes because I couldn’t talk honestly about whatever it was that bothered me.

That’s why I was so damn hesitant to start again; therapy didn’t work last time so why would it now? But JB shouted at me and then shouted at me some more. Ali and Tori eventually joined the chorus of shouting. (I hate friendship). But I also love my friends, so that’s why I’m doing this, mostly to stop the shouting.

But all these weird feelings that I have about therapy are difficult to pinpoint. They probably stem from the intense toxic masculinity, the racism, the xenophobia and homophobia of my childhood home. Because therapy in my mind is still a form of weakness. It means that I’m not a man, that I’m simply incapable of being naturally confident or sane and so I shouldn’t bother trying. With all these feelings of guilt it comes down to this: I feel too broken for therapy to help.

(I know that’s not true but that’s how I feel. I’m working on it.)

Now things have gotten so desperate that I need someone’s help. But perhaps this time I’ll have more discipline. And maybe I’ll hold off on the jokes. And even the apologies.

Nope, scratch that. I will always be sorry!

Sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry.