Picking from the prompts at MamaKat’s was painful, truly. I wanted to try to answer all of them, but one just stuck itself right out at me. I knew the answer, right away.
The prompt reads: “You’re not always right…no you’re not…no you’re not…no you’re not….tell us about a time you were wrong.”
And all that I can think about is a whole period of life where I spent so much time believing I was right that I ended up losing almost everything. What immediately comes to mind is a marriage that was ruined by my insatiable thirst to be right, to be in control.
It didn’t start that way… I followed the man I married to a place all new and exciting, but at the same time I was running away from every horror that I had ever experienced in life before him. At first, only he was right. He was the right person to make my world okay, to make all things right. As I clung to him for my everything I also wore him down with my need for perfection, my need to have everything “just right”. I was so scared and insecure that the only way I could make things right was by expecting it all to come from him, all of my soul food, all of my security, all of my dreams and fairytales-do-come-true delusions rested square on his shoulders. Nothing ever measured up, nothing he did was right. His mood was wrong, the way he parented was wrong, the hours he worked were wrong… it was all so wrong. The only order I found in the world was from being right and searching for that perfect “right” in life, in marriage, in parenthood, in life… I just wanted to feel right with the world and right in it.
As I think about it now I am nauseous, a wave of nausea that comes over me every time I think about the loss. There is clarity now… if I had known then what I know now about grace and shame and acceptance, perhaps our family would have never been shattered. Perhaps my daughter would have the full-time father that she deserves, if only I had been more willing to be wrong.
Perhaps I was wrong to marry in the first place… but regardless, in our marriage I just pushed him away with my righteousness. Until one day, quite unexpected by me, he was done. He had enough. He had reached his limit and it was over, just like that. No amount of begging or pleading could change his mind. He was moving on to the next thing and my daughter and I were left standing, all alone. Our family was torn apart, that fast and also that slow… in a couple of years I managed to weaken the threads that once tied us closely together with my negativity and expectations.
P.S. I want to acknowledge that while the heartbreak and sense of tragedy attached to the loss of this marriage will forever be with me, I have also grown in so many amazing ways since then. I now know that my first marriage was challenged from the get-go, even before my need to be right went wrong. My life since has been challenging in unexpected ways, and I have overcome new obstacles. Life is not just shaped by our choices but also sculpted into a masterpiece that we cannot always conceptualize nor imagine until it is a work completed. My work is not completed. I find comfort in the thought that each day is like a fresh, clean canvas… ready to be painted by life.