When I was in the Navy, I took a leadership course in which the instructor boasted, “There is no such thing as a bad decision,” to which many of us in the class chirped out a plethora of examples to counter that statement. We were all wrong, because a decision is calculated.
We must make decisions, even if in the future we see the error in judgment for those decisions.
Writhing through my gut during that class was my opinion that I had made a bad decision to quickly marry a man I barely knew: a man with a personality disorder that emboldened him to lie to me, corner me, and squash my spirit. And so it is, that one of the best decisions I ever made was getting a divorce.
He didn’t beat me physically, and though he used coercion and manipulation to squeeze me into the size of a molecule, he had some lucid moments.
He knew his shortcomings, but that knowledge was not tangible to him in a moment of frustration.
I had empathy for him. I felt guilt for even considering that my life might feel lifted and more energized without the weight of his scrutiny and demeaning outbursts, but when he’d settled all the dust from his tantrums and say, “I don’t know why I’m like this. Sometimes I just feel so empty in side,” I’d deflate into an airless ball of confusion. Someone has to love him, I’d conjecture, and so the cycle continued.
Compounding my cognitive dissonance over leaving a man who didn’t want to be cruel was the fact we had a child together.
I sought guidance from a Navy chaplain who assured me that divorce was not good for my child. I read and reread a biblical verse that suggested that if I were to divorce my husband, I would forever commit adultery with whomever else I married. I also learned that God hates divorce, as my chaplain contended, and that a child must have a two parent household to learn from the parents and to feel the necessary bond and security that comes with that. So I prayed and prayed and prayed.
Then one night I had a dream that I was in a foreign town and a man dressed in white was coming. I hid under a chicken coop with some other girls hoping not to have this man see me. He walked right to me, lifted my face, and said, “You’ll do just fine.” I knew that I was worried that my wanting to divorce this man left me feeling not good enough for God. I finally felt as though what God wants from each of us is to feel peace.
Did I have a religious moment, or was I just coming to a common sense awakening?
I don’t know for sure, but I know that the man I married sold me on someone he had not yet become at that time in his life. He wanted to be that person, but he fumbled through mirages and facades to create that illusion long before he could obtain the wisdom and serenity in life to actually be that person.
I have since learned that we cannot stew in our bad decisions.
The only moment we have is now, and we have to stand up from a fall with a bit of a smile and know we are not alone in having said or done things that just do not work out as well as we imagined them to have. Making a change means realizing that our past decisions do have some consequences and fixing them fully is not always an option. I remarried. My daughter maintains a meaningful relationship with her father, though I cannot say the distant parental relationship is not without frustrating hiccups. I would have to work really hard to ensure the well-being of my child in the aftermath of that decision, but sanity and well-being are possible. The future is all of ours.