It’s been a long time since I’ve felt true embarrassment, most times I’m just nervous to talk to other people. There are just some topics that are uncomfortable to me, even when they are a truth that needs to come out or even a piece of advice someone is offering me. I threw out the idea of ego a long time ago, not that I don’t feel some pride in my accomplishments from time to time. A long time ago I was taught by someone I completely respect that knowing I have limitations or failures is going to serve me better than worrying about how others think of me. [And yes, I do see the irony when I still have a hangup from time to time about someone telling me I was at fault for everything!]
I stood before a group of students not long before the spring semester ended and talked about how I had screwed something up so royally that I still wasn’t sure how to fix it. Being open to any idea wasn’t my issue, it was that I was taking the position that I didn’t want to see another person hurt by the end result. That may seem silly, but that is what causes me the most pain in life, feeling like I directly hurt someone.
So I talked about how money had been an issue. There was a time when it was easily earned and just as easily spent. I had done the correct things, but sometimes life just alters your course before you can right the ship. My issue had become that I had made promises to people who worked for my family and I had every intention of making those promises real. We helped a bunch of people go to college, made sure they had good health insurance, tried to make a work environment that they could be proud to attend every day. Those are lofty goals, ones my grandfather had instilled in my when I was a kid. But sometimes you just can’t make all of them a reality.
So I was using my personal savings to help make the promises real. It was a tightrope of epic magnitude. Money coming from consulting for another company was being used to help defray costs. We kept the boat afloat! Then that saga of needing to borrow the $8000 from the ex’s parent’s came into place. While juggling house, family, my own crazy health, trying to go to the movies once a month; it was a tipping point in that relationship that I couldn’t find a balance for. So over the cliff we went. While I was able to keep the outside influences in check, my continued struggle to get past this roadblock became a mountain.
Of course I was talking to the ex about these things. Showed her whatever paperwork I legally could, tried to help her understand that while no one was coming for the house or cars, we we needing to be careful. At the end of the day, my bank account was balancing but there was little left over.
I told the friends, I told the lawyers, I told just about anyone who needed to know that information so that they understood why things had changed. Why I wasn’t just willing to pick up and head across country on a whim. That didn’t mean the ex didn’t go, I never asked her to stop doing things. That wouldn’t have been fair, it was my creation. She shouldn’t suffer anymore than whatever conversations her parents were having with her about my ability to provide.
Even then I wasn’t embarrassed, just angry. Well they’re out of the picture and it’s one less thing on my plate to be concerned about. Funny that just yesterday my aunt and I talked about how she didn’t think it was fair for me to still feel guilt about it all. I did what was expected of me, it just came at so high a price she wished it had been different. Ironically we both were in agreement about wishing the ex were doing okay?!!!
Maybe that’s how I deal with uncomfortable things about myself. I put them out there and hope that people don’t judge me too harshly for my missteps. I was taught to help people whenever I can, in whatever capacity I am able. Now, I’m no saint. I’m not implying that, nor do I think that way of myself. But there are things I know how to do that some people don’t. They know how to do things that I can’t.
The biggest life lesson my grandfather every taught me was that I may be the smartest person in the room on a certain subject, but there is always going to be someone who knows just a little more. It may be a different approach, it could be a completely different way of thinking; but someone is going to know better. 25 years have gone by since his death and it is still a wonderful lesson. So Tom, wherever you are, thanks!
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Isn’t Your Face Red.”