By Liz Clark
PROMPT — Who am I today?
Hi, my name is Liz and I’m a recovering apologist.
For my entire almost 57 years I’ve always been an apologist. I’ve always said sorry for the smallest of mistakes, for perhaps not being as acceptable, not fitting in as a perfect parent, for being different and for enjoying my own company when I want. I’ve apologized for small mistakes I’ve made to my managers in past and present times.
I grew up apologizing. You see I’m different. During the 1960s and 1970s as I grew up, I was always the odd one out in my family consisting of five other siblings and two parents. My parents were hard-working, self-employed and had done well from their business.
I’m the second to youngest; it wasn’t until I was 36 years old that I was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, and Suicidal Depression. It’s genetic. It’s there in my extended family. Some of us are neuro-typical and others are like me—just that slightly off the wall kind of different. Yet, I spent my entire time from the age of eight years old—apologizing.
I’ve apologized consistently to both myself, my kids and others for not quite fitting into that box. For not wanting to go to social gatherings because I couldn’t handle the noise. It hurt my ears—a lot. I apologized for that too. I got married at 19. That was a mistake. My in-laws were a classic type of the ‘wife should be in the kitchen cooking for everyone else.’ They made my life a living hell. Yet—I apologized for not being the perfect wife.
I apologized for not being up to their invisible standard of expectation. I wasn’t good enough. I had three children in that marriage. The first at 21 and then much, much later at age 34 and 35. My now ex-husband left me when my youngest was just four and a half months old. I raised my youngest children on my own. Yet, I apologized for him leaving me as well. I apologized for failing. I kept on apologizing—to everyone when I filed for divorce two years later.
During my entire working life—I’ve always apologized even if the issue hadn’t been my fault. Last year—I stopped apologizing. I stopped hanging my head in shame for being who I am.
I’ve been judged for not having a journalism degree for being a writer. I don’t need a degree. I’m a columnist for my employer’s weekly lifestyle paper, writing about my passions gardening and heritage. The rest of the time, I proofread and sub-edit other journalists’ work.
I love what I do. I love the words I write. I love being me and I’ve done OK. I’ve got three wonderful kids. I own two homes and a small farm. I did that on my own.
I won’t be apologizing.
A Recovering Apologist
Liz Clark is an autistic writer and columnist for a weekly lifestyle newspaper. In between, she sub-edits and proofreads the work of other journalists. Outside of writing, Liz lives and works on a 10-acre farm surrounded by nature, her garden and animals. She writes from Maungaturoto, Kaipara District, Northland, New Zealand.