When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough

14 Apr

Yesterday was an awesome day, mostly. Laundry and housework were finished early. I cleared out a cabinet that has been driving me nuts. I made a grocery run and got dinner in the slow cooker early. I ran to my youngest child’s favorite bakery to get him some treats for his birthday today. The day was going really well, and then five o’clock happened. My husband sent me a text that he was still at work, which is odd because he goes in early so he can be home by five. After another hour and fifteen minutes with no contact, I sent my husband a text asking if he had left yet. He didn’t answer. A few minutes later, I called him. He answered and said he was on his way, but as we talked, it was apparent that he was still at work. Since we had been holding dinner for over an hour, we decided to start without him. He joined us mid-meal, and I figured all was well again.

After dinner, we have been walking lately to get our bodies back into a shape other than round, so when I asked if he was ready to walk, I was surprised that he said he needed to go to his brother’s garage to notarize something and put his car on the computer to figure out why his check engine light had gone on. I rode along, thinking we could walk afterward, maybe around the garage’s neighborhood for a change of scenery, but by the time we finished, it was starting to sprinkle rain so we headed for the rec center to walk inside.

From the moment we stepped on the track, nothing seemed to go right in our conversation. We have never been a couple to fight but we just couldn’t seem to come to an agreement on anything. It was frustrating, and then my husband said something about being yanked into a meeting at five o’clock that was should have lasted ten minutes but lasted over an hour. I could tell by the tone of his voice he was frustrated and angry, but instead of thinking he might be angry with the people who called the meeting. I thought he was upset with me for interrupting, twice. I felt horrible. Then, I remembered that he had stayed up late the night before because he was downloading some software for me. I had gone to bed because I had to be up at 5:30 to take our youngest to school early. I had deserted him while he stayed up late for me. If he hadn’t, maybe he would have been in a better mood and the late meeting wouldn’t have been such a burden to him. Once again, I had messed up. I had pushed for something I wanted and someone was burdened because of it. I was such a selfish brat to ask him to do that. When will I learn?

At that point, the conversation stopped because I couldn’t speak, unless I wanted to cry in public, and I didn’t want to cry in public. I felt like a horrible person not to see his pain and frustration. I felt like a failure as a wife, again. I came home, showered, wrote my husband a letter of apology saying how sorry I was for being such a disappointment, and I went to bed after a big cry. It was a horrible way to end an evening, but it felt like the right way to end it because no amount of talking at that point could atone for what I had done. I know this story is melodramatic, but bear with me because this one took me by surprise and the perspective from it is amazing.

This morning, I found a letter from my husband. He thought I was angry with him because we couldn’t agree on things. He apologized for being in a bad mood. He apologized for things that aren’t even an issue for me. I almost laughed at how similar his letter was to mine, and then I remembered something. Sometimes memories can seem so random and at first, this one did. I remembered driving home from a volleyball practice or game with my mom and brother when I was in junior high. My brother and I were fussing about something, and my mom asked us to stop. We didn’t. Suddenly, she pulled over to the side of the road, looked at us and said our grandfather had suffered a heart attack and had not made it. Her father was dead, and we were fighting over something stupid. I never felt more ashamed in my life. Here was my mom in her moment of greatest sorrow, and my brother and I were fighting. That was a turning point in my life. It was a time I took on a huge amount of guilt for causing someone else pain, someone I loved dearly. I couldn’t take it back, and I couldn’t change it. I could only try harder to be a better person. Unfortunately, what I thought was being a better person wasn’t healthy for me.

From that point on, I always put the other person’s feelings ahead of mine. Even if I defended myself, deep down I always questioned if what I did wrong. I never felt completely right again, and I didn’t realize that until this morning. What I also realized this morning is this. My mom lashed out in anger because she was in pain of her own that had nothing to do with me. Yelling at my brother and me was a way of deflecting her pain into anger, which always feels more powerful than despair and mourning. Back in my early teens, I couldn’t see that. Was it fair? I don’t know, but now that I understand it, I can forgive us all and move on. I didn’t know about her pain, or I would have reacted differently. After talking with my husband this morning, I found out about some of his frustrations about a new assignment he’s about to take on. I think those frustrations were never directed at me, but I took them on because of my past, and in a strange way, our disagreement yesterday was a huge blessing. It took me back to a time when a bad pattern was created. It let me look at that incredibly powerful moment in my life with new, mature eyes that could forgive my teen self and my mom with compassion and grace. Hopefully, it will also allow me to move forward with a new and better sense of life and others’ pain. If so, I have received a huge gift through the work frustrations of my husband. How crazy is that?

I cannot imagine not taking on the burden of someone else’s pain, but I’m ready to try. I have a hard time imagining myself not feeling guilty when I don’t notice someone else’s pain and they blurt it out in the form of anger, but I’m excited about the opportunity to show compassion to them instead of taking on the guilt of not knowing. I feel lighter and wiser and ready for the day, and best of all; I get to fall in love with the man of my dreams all over again. Yes, that’s mushy, but that’s who I am. I am grateful. I am different than I was yesterday, and I am loved, and some days, that is more than good enough. Thanks for being you and have a great day.

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