Saturday, April 25, 2009

Certainly Unsure

There's a line in a Straylight Run song that says, "You take in everything with a certainty I envy; it's somehow all I need," and when The Boy and I were first dating he said it reminded him of me. I was so sure, he said, of so much. I had conviction and definitive answers. This sounds like a compliment, I guess, and I think it was meant as such, but I don't think it's accurate now.

It's not that my conviction is gone. I'm pretty confident those close to me would still label me passionate, and there are still a few things I wholeheartedly know. I'm still animated, I still talk when I should listen, I still embrace opinions with too little information; I still think I know more than I actually do. But not like I did then. Then, there were so many things I just knew. I just knew I had made certain choices that were necessary for me to find my destiny. I knew, despite all evidence to the contrary, that I was going to marry the Other Boy, now referred to as the Marital False Start. I knew there were certain issues that others struggled with-- others I judged, by the way-- that would never plague me. I knew what I would do in just about any situation I had not actually encountered, especially marriage. And parenting. I just knew.

Here's the thing about just knowing: If you're wrong, you're screwed. Let's take the False Start. Turns out I was wrong-- heartshatteringly wrong-- and I had to start over. The logistics were a challenge, though not insurmountable, but the mindset change took much longer. I had built a future on a fantasy, and I had to reframe it all. In fact, I had to throw it all out and learn to wear a wardrobe full of uncertainty. And for a long time, it didn't fit. I had to stare my assumption (previously loudly stated) that there was "one person for everyone" dead in the eye. Because if that were true, I was done. And how could I be comfortable saying I was done for a lifetime at 21?

So when I met The Boy and it started becoming apparent that he was The One, I made the itchy and utterly unromantic statement that I didn't actually believe in The One, or at least I didn't think I did. We still have all the same reminiscent conversations, like, "If I hadn't met Jenn, I'd never have met Erin and I wouldn't have been in that place on that night and I never would have met you," but it's not like I believe that to mean I never would have married or had a family or been happy. I would have, I'm pretty sure, and I would never have thought of what might have been if the door hadn't slid because I wouldn't have known to. "Might have been" doesn't carry much with me because it's so arbitrary. I'm grateful it doesn't.

At our first marriage counseling session, I told our Pastor I was nervous about getting married because so many people get divorced and I have to believe most of them felt like we did at the start. "I just feel like there's nothing that makes us different than them," I said, "and it scares me." I was embarrassed; this was not the kind of thing a blushing bride was supposed to say. He told me he would be worried if we didn't fear divorce; if we thought it was something that couldn't happen to us just because we said we didn't believe in it. It was comforting, in a way, but also disorienting.

I'm much less sure of things than I used to be, which sometimes feels like regression, but probably is progress. I'm working on broadening my view and judging less, or at least later. I think having a child has helped that. I have trouble now looking at someone who is a nuisance or an outcast or a rebel without thinking of the whole of his life. I can't help but think there must have been somebody at some point who really loved him. It may not always be true, but I imagine he probably had a someone who dreamed of his future; who longed for great things for him. There's just so much that I don't see. Maybe it's growth that at least I see that now. I know that I don't know what I don't know.

Mirabella and I went to lunch with my little sister today, and the child threw a fit in front of everyone. More than once. I carried her away from the situation and softly reprimanded her; I put her in time out on a public bench. I didn't actually know what I was doing, but I did what I told her I would. Lately I can see it in people's faces, the internal proclamation that "my child would never behave that way." I'm trying to learn not to care, even while I wince and wish I could apologize to those I've condemned similarly in the past. Being sure was easier.
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