What’s In Your Mind
Photo by Etty Fidele / Unsplash

Why I admit I'm wrong. In public. It's a superpower and I highly recommend it.

Yesterday I spent about an hour or so at the Denver Airport with my ex. I had a six- hour layover. I invited him out to see me. He's been asking for a while now. I've been resisting, not without reason.

But I was wrong.

I've written about this person, who shall stay unnamed. Only three people know who he is and only two of those have met him in person. It will stay that way, for he is deeply private-  privacy I did not respect for my own reasons- but that's another story. in 2018 and 2019 I wrote about my anger and frustrations on Medium. That garnered me a lot of viewers and likes.

Mostly it was people who wanted more of my untrammeled vitriol, which allowed them to feel validated in their own anger.

I was wrong to do that in the first place.

As many of us do, we get lots of folks on our side. That creates a destructive, binary story which makes it nearly impossible for those who took our side to allow us to evolve when and if it's time to do it. Unless they too are willing to be wrong, they may dump us as friends.

Photo by Marianna Smiley / Unsplash

My ex, let's call him David, has been in my life since 2008. Things were difficult from the start as almost as soon as we met he got swept up in a government contract which moved him out of town and on the road. Suffice it to stay that I chose to stick with him. For years he would come to town, see me for 45 minutes to an hour, then find an excuse to leave. He dumped me twelve times in those years, then came back, hat in hand every single time.

Rinse, repeat. I am not in the market for relationship advice (check it at the door thank you) and I am not interested in having anyone castigate me for my choices. I am much better than anyone else at precisely that.

For those years, most of them, he was earning a hell of a lot of money, was in terrific shape, and to my eye was pretty much the most gorgeous thing I've ever seen. He was all that, not only to himself but also to me.

We were both wrong.

My hopes and expectations, especially in hindsight, were through the roof, and patently unfair to both of us.

He also did some awful, awful things. A lot of damage. My trust got shattered over and over. I took to Medium to write about it. While that allowed me to process a great deal of my anger, there was a cost. That's one of the awful things I did. I did my fair share.

One of the costs is, and we see it everywhere, is that once you go public with a stance it can be awfully hard to back down. Just watch what the vicious public does to a very popular vegan influencer who finds out she really needs a burger. A fat singer who dares to slim down.

HOW DARE WE CHOOSE TO MOVE ON. Grow up. Evolve. Change our minds.

Life is evolution. Don't evolve, you die.

This is what happened for me when I saw David yesterday. It had been four long years.

I was sitting at the Westin coffee shop, a newish addition to the DIA landscape for me, when he walked in. He looked exactly the same as he had fourteen years ago. It's quite remarkable to me how we see what we want to see, and the brain deletes what it needs to. We didn't hug. One aspect of this man is that he respects boundaries- at least in this regard he does- and allowed me to choose to offer touch rather than assume.

By the end of that short time together I was different. It was a gift, but not without a price. My pride, mostly.

For reasons far beyond my ken we are joined at the hip. Neither of us does well when we are out of touch. Even four states apart, the regular conversations are helpful to us both. In his case, his world imploded when Covid hit, as it did for many.

After having made a small mint for a number of years, and in every way having reason to believe the gravy train would continue, the gravy train bucked him off. Suddenly the industry by which he'd made his living for twenty years considered him a dinosaur not by his skills, but his age. Some of you can relate, betcha.

By the time I started offering help he had run through friends and family. He's had health issues (many I just learned about yesterday which was hard) and is stressed to the gills. It's been brutal.

Been there myself.

But that wasn't what was really important.

I called my buddy Melissa just before he walked in and just afterwards. She's met him. Not as enamored as I was, but each to her own. I told her what had transpired.  But first, please see this:

This NYT article came out before Trumpism and all its tentacles made admitting one's errors a whole other capital crime. Even before that, though, the sick need to be right at all costs has cost the world and our species wars, divorce, murder, mayhem and we're just really getting started. Religion has a stronghold in this, but let's let that dog lie.

Being right's evil twin is needing to be superior. Holier than thou. Between the two, likely you could distill down many, if not most, of the world's worst ills to those two addictions. I sure can in my own life.

If you're willing to look hard enough and tell the truth, you may well find that they lie at the heart of many of your own battles. That's not for me to tell you. That's for you to ask, but you also need to be ready for answers that may not fit the picture you have of yourself. That's the cognitive dissonance the Times article references.

The public and private position I'd taken on this man had put us both in prison. I had decided he was a collection of (fill in the list complaints here) and as a result, not likely to change. It's simply remarkable how that attitude, just like racism and ageism and all the other "other-isms" enslave us just as securely as they lock others into a prison of our making.

What I have been watching, and saw in person, was someone whose life had brought him to his knees and then some. I've been there too. More than once.

He was vulnerable. For the first time I saw him as vulnerable. Not as someone to whom I had given so very much control over my heart, my emotions and quality of life. And I didn't see it as the weakness so many believe it is. I recognize that vulnerability as a growing strength in him, even as he may not yet experience it that way.

I HATE admitting I had handed over so much personal power. That was part of my prison.

David now lives in the not-knowing. That will either make you or break you. You want to learn resilience?

This is Resilience Training Ground Zero.

The terrible butterflies and skittishness that I used to feel around this man were gone. Instead I had a completely different experience of his humanity. It was raw. Real. I saw him as a human instead of the utterly unrealistic, completely unfair picture I had painted. And in fact had painted him into a corner.

Me with him, frankly. For when he didn't live up to the expectation, I was angry. Precisely what I have criticized others for doing when they bring unfair expectations into a marriage. None of this is easy, but real growth often isn't.

David's body had repeatedly failed him, one thing upon which he could count. His career had been pulled out from underneath him, the other thing on which he could count.  David was left with a lot more questions than answers.

He is still living with more questions than answers.

Resilience training. Learning to be vulnerable. To not know.

That is a fine thing. A painful thing, hard to watch. It's his to find his way. Along the way he has found out who shows up, just like my buddy Melissa found out who showed up when she had very difficult shoulder surgery. I showed up for him when a great many others found other things to do.

We are entering our fifteenth year of being connected. Again, neither of us does very well when we are apart. What that connection may look like is anyone's guess. I am not in the market for a partner, a marriage or much of anything else that looks like cohabitation.


I am indeed in the market for emotionally responsible exchanges. Exchanges which don't hog-tie someone into a difficult set of expectations.

You can see what's coming, can't you?

I was caught up in the same toxic masculinity that he was. I don't get to dance out of that one.

That peels back the skin on the bullshit story I've been telling myself for a long time.  I am not any more free of that toxic masculinity than most of the men I've met. Most men, period.

Of course I wasn't.

I was wrong about who I thought I was, wrong about the story I was telling myself, wrong about whether or not this man was able to evolve and grow, wrong about a lot of things.

It's nearly impossible to evolve if we can't see what we do. It's impossible to improve if I can't admit that I was wrong.  When I give myself permission to be wrong, rather than castigate myself for it, that is true Goddess work. That can be transformative.

Melissa is one of the friends who has stuck with me these many years as I've moved through those stages. She has never judged, has remained curious, and not called me foolish or stupid (as have others) for allowing David back in my life. She understood at the deepest level that there were things I had to learn.

Nailed it.

That's a friend. She understands that nothing is static. Those who truly love us allow us space to morph and change and shift and evolve, sometimes moving backwards, sideways, sometimes falling down completely.

I do the same for her. We should all have such friends.

Other people ended their connection with me over this relationship. Instructive, isn't it?

Their need to be right about how he was bad news was more important than understanding that I was on a growth path. Still am.

After yesterday, so many things feel different. Because they are. There are few things so delicious, so terrifying, as coming clean.

True toxicity is being unable to own our shit.

Our unwillingness to be wrong- my own unwillingness to be wrong- is toxic. Those are among the very worst of the basement-dwelling demons. They can be terrifying until we call them out.

The moment we are honest with ourselves, they don't stand a chance.

Whether or not there is a future with David is far less important than the gift I got yesterday, which shifted my world.

I've never felt so free, or more grateful.

There's still a great deal of work to do. However.  

It really is delicious.

Happy Meal - Eton Mess
Photo by Tangerine Newt / Unsplash

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