A mouse is a mouse

In the grocery store a little boy was using a helium birthday balloon as a punching bag while his grandma and sisters mulled over canned tomatoes. I was passing him or soon to be passing him and he saw me and stopped punching the balloon. But he stopped too soon and right as I passed him … WHACK to the side of the head. His grandma sees this from a few feet away and starts screaming at him and what do I do? I apologize to the little boy. I fucking apologize! My first instinct, the first words out of my mouth after he punched me in the face are: I’m sorry.
He didn’t mean to, it wasn’t deliberate at all, just mistimed, but I wheeled my ass out of that aisle as quickly as I could, celery flailing, and left his grandmother to defend me.
I think my whole life I’ve been apologizing for things that have happened to me. When people hurt my feelings, it’s somehow my fault. What did I do wrong? I analyze every conversation, action, word that lead up to the altercation and I try to change myself to ensure that it never occurs the same way again.
I wonder if apologizing is some backwards way of me trying to control a situation. By changing the tone of the crisis, fight, whatever, and stopping it cold in its tracks, I’m trying to resolve the issue as quickly as possible even if the issue is completely on the other person. I really think this is how much I hate confrontation. I would rather take the blame than fight. I’m trying to be more wolf-like. I’m trying to stand up for myself more and more, but how do you change instinct? This is stuff that’s been ingrained in my head for years and years. How do you change intrinsic things about yourself?
I know all change comes from practice. The more uncomfortable situations I put myself in, the better I will become about yelling. I have my moments. Like the time in Pennsylvania where that drunk guy yelled at me for almost running him over when he stepped in front of my car. I fucking reamed him! I’M GOING TO MY JOB WHERE THE FUCK ARE YOU GOING?! Or recently when we were in NYC, a woman got pissed at pat because his backpack was bumping into her on the subway. (Move over, bitch how hard is that?) And Pat told her to fuck off and we were all laughing and under old circumstances I would be on edge, wondering how the whole thing was going to play out, worried about people’s feelings getting hurt.
But you just can’t plan for these things. I can go over and over what I would do, how I would do it, but when the unexpected happens – it’s all instinct. I think I’m just tired of being the mouse. But a mouse is a mouse and how does a mouse change being what they are? That’s not to say that I can’t ever change how I stick up for myself. I’ve gotten better. It’s hard, but I’ve gotten better. But I will always be quiet. I will always be shy. And no matter how much I hate it, it helps me see the world the way I see it. It’s part of who I am. And because of that, I’ve been lucky enough to surround myself with people that will be my army when I need one. They’ll set me off against that giant elephant and be right behind me when I try to run away. Turn around, they’ll say, you can do this. Stop being such a pussy.

(and by pussy, I of course mean Scaredy Cat, not the female anatomy which is not scared of anything except maybe the clap.)

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