Early in my relationship with my ex-wife (we were just dating at the time), she told me something that broke my heart.
Almost right from the moment we started dating, I had decided to try starting a business with her. I intended to marry her (not sure if I had already proposed by then or not), and I thought our mutual interests were compatible with our potential business. But she told me she didn’t think she could contribute to the business.
I asked her why. She said she’s doesn’t have skills; any skills. I said that was absolutely not true. She insisted she wasn’t good at anything. I told her how much I disagreed, using some photos of her photography as an example of how I knew she was wrong about herself. She said those pictures weren’t any good.
So, I told her that if she doesn’t believe in herself, she just needs to keep working at what she wants to be good at. To keep practicing and practicing and practicing. Then, she started crying, and said, “I do, but I never get any better.” I held her, wanting to cry myself but holding back.
Why did I have the urge to cry? Well, apart from hurting every time I see loved ones hurting, the reason I wanted to cry was because what my then-future-wife was displaying was humility. Seeing humility has always been my weakness, since my toddler years.
Basically, it’s whenever I see weakness of any kind. I remember when I was about 5, (this isn’t related to humility but still relevant) and I saw my foster mom standing outside the front door holding a bunch of soda cans in her arms, unable to open the front door herself. I ran to the door and helped her in. I remember wanting to cry because she didn’t have anyone else there to help her. I just saw her standing there by coincidence. Now, in hindsight, over 20 years later, standing by a door because you can’t open it is not anything to get emotionally worked up over, but I remember this instance nonetheless.
I can’t stand seeing someone helpless. Humility is an act of vulnerability. A conscious act of vulnerability. It is someone choosing to lower their guard and show their own weakness…
Now, as decades passed, I gradually learned that women in particular feign weakness to prompt action from bystanders, and thus I tried to train myself to be extra cautious whenever I see helplessness of any kind. (I’ve seen ‘men’ do it too.) After the separation from my wife, my eyes were opened to the kind of person she really is, and now I look back at that story with her, and I wonder, Was she feeling sorry for herself because that’s just, simply, what she does? Like an addictive behavior, even if it doesn’t serve any purpose in the moment?
(By the way, after we separated, she immediately went back to school to become a professional photographer. So much for not believing in herself……. That really added to my anger toward her. It tells me that if she was lying about not wanting to do photography for a living, of all things to lie about, then I can’t help by wonder what else she lied about during our relationship.)
I saw humility from her throughout most of our time together. Of course, that humility turned out to be faux and fake, so, naturally, I haven’t seen a shred of humility from her since our separation. She never had any to begin with, I learned. Still, I often think to myself how much things would be better in our post-marriage lives … if she was actually, genuinely, just a little humble.
I call this a weakness of mine because I’ve seen firsthand, many times, what happens when I’m in a completely-opposite state of mind when someone, suddenly, displays humility. For example, being around someone I normally clash with, but then my feelings in the moment instantly turn from frustration to … heartbreak, actually. Two such people that’s happened with have been my adoptive parents.
One of the many, many reasons I’m honest to a fault, is because I believe being humble, even in hostile situations, is important and healthy. That doesn’t mean I believe in showing vulnerability just for the sake of it, but if the moment requires it, I don’t hold back. That’s what an honest personality is, in essence: Not holding back what you truly think or feel. I’ve been the one to instantly start breaking down in tears before. One such example happened with my brother, and I went from anger to crying my eyes out because I recalled saying something to him that I meant, but had worded very, very poorly, and so I felt deeply ashamed of myself for using the wrong words.
I don’t know how to end this post. Humans are fucked up creatures.