I sometimes wonder why I do the things I do. For instance, why do I engage in conversations that I feel probably won’t showcase my best attributes? Or, why do I consider it to be okay to goof around and generally not act like a 44 year-old man should act?
Self-reflection is a really great tool and it’s a process by which, I feel, we can find out our very true selves. It reveals the coarse hairs that we need to shave or smooth out. It highlights the speech patterns that confuse or can be considered destructive by others. In a sense, self-reflection is an important tool. Socrates is credited with saying that the unexamined life is not one worth living for a human being. This is quite true.
I can understand how we end up avoiding the practice. For me, it’s when I see the breadth of what I perceive as obstacles in my way: finances, self-image, mental acuity, drama. We get caught up in the day-to-day struggles of our lives that we often forget that we’re taking shit waaaay too seriously. No one here gets out alive, right? So why fight to uphold a structure that we find to be unfulfilling or even destructive?
Why, for instance, did I allow myself to be in a marriage which I wasn’t very happy? Why did I get married in the first place? Because I did rather than thought. I acted without considering what was best. I had a girlfriend and, I thought, happiness. Even when we were dating there were elements of dissatisfaction burbling beneath the surface. We fought a lot. But I went along because I thought that that was what married people did. It’s what my parents did and that was the only model I had to work with. In the end, it was a very dysfunctional relationship. When she asked for the divorce, however, I was devastated because it was destroyed the stability that I was very used to, even if we were in love. In the end, I didn’t act gracefully in granting the separation or divorce and that led to a lot of confrontations that I have a hard time reconciling today. In short, I was a monster to her and my daughters had front row seats.
I can’t change what I did but I also can’t allow myself to wallow in self-abuse for what happened. I’ve made peace with that, though I still deal with the fallout in my relationship with my ex as well as my daughters. It’s a lesson that I’ve had to learn the hard day, the really hard way.
On the other side, there are excessive positives coming from that experience. It’s helped my relationship with my daughters, valuing the time that I do spend with them. It has set me on the path that I’m on now. It also allowed me to reconnect with many friends that I had to eschew in favor of keeping my marriage stable due to whatever threats my ex perceived that they posed. Plus, I’ve made several new friends that I might not have met otherwise. It also allowed me to have a relationship with Myo, however brief it was.
Certainly, I reflect on what would’ve happened had I not gotten married so young or had stayed with my ex for so long. Perhaps, I might’ve had a longer and greater relationship with Myo. Perhaps, I could’ve grown into a more mature adult rather than rebel against the white collar standards my ex wanted me to maintain. Maybe my writing could have kept developing. However, those Could Be‘s would have taken away very important things in my life: my daughters. Had I never married their mother or had we divorced earlier, the women they are now would not exist. Also, for as much strife as I like to pour onto my ex, she did encourage me to go back to school and finish my undergrad degree. She sacrificed her time with her daughters so that I could finish up and have a brief career in television writing and promotions. I would not be in grad school today had I not listened to her advice. Lastly, I would not be me that I am right now, writing this blog and thinking these thoughts. Maybe I’d be more successful, maybe I wouldn’t be. Regardless, I would not be the person that sits here right now.
What could have been and what is are two separate time lines. I’m happy with the one I’m in now
Certainly, there are a lot of challenges to having to start over your life in middle age. However, better that it be now than me on my death bed muttering words from Maud Miller:
For of all sad words of tongue or pen,The saddest are these: “It might have been!”
What could have been and what is are two separate time lines. I’m happy with the one I’m in now because I think it’s making me a better human.