I was once asked in a job interview if I considered myself persistent or tenacious. Having no idea what tenacious meant I answered persistent. When I got home and looked up the definition of tenacious, I realized I am usually tenacious; to a fault.
Yesterday I was trying to print transfers for shirts and nothing was working. I’d print wrong, I’d forget to peel off the backing before ironing, I’d choose the wrong size for the graphic, or the wrong graphic all together, and eventually I ran out of ink. I put in new ink cartridges and all hell broke loose. 3 hours later I turned off my laptop and the printer and walked away in a huff, agitated and frustrated beyond belief. It took me hours to calm down. This morning I went back to my laptop and turned on the printer and immediately realized I had the wrong printer cartridges! Once I put in the correct ink the job was done in no time, and with no hiccups.
One of the main tenants of Yoga is the idea that there is always a balance between giving it your all and backing off when it’s too much; i.e. persistence is be better than tenacity. I’ve been working hard implementing this idea in my life, although you wouldn’t have known it if you saw me yesterday. During the times I managed to back away when it was just too difficult, or just not working, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the results.
My son and I are working on an awareness campaign, and we’ve been trying to get a new symbol recognized. I’ve invested some money into this, so there have been some moments when it wasn’t going well that I felt my tenacious soul creep in, shouting all those old messages of “see, dummy, you can’t do anything” or “idiot; you have stupid ideas”, etc. Yesterday though, it all came together. We got some major media coverage and I’m hopeful, in a persistent way, that our campaign will work. I’m also clear that sometimes you have to put your project to rest for a while, come back to it later, and even be willing to let it go.
It got me to thinking about my wedding. I was never one of the girls who dreamed about her wedding day. Going into the whole operation I had only 2 things I really wanted. The 1st was the aisle runner, the second was the traditional tiered cake with the goofy couple on top. The rest I didn’t really care about. None-the-less, the planning was horrendous. My mother and I fought like crazy. She got so mad once she left my home in the middle of the night and drove 6 hours back to her home. I think it was a few weeks before we talked again after that brawl. Nothing worked out.
- I couldn’t find a dress. I went to every shop in the state and still ended up settling on a dress I didn’t really care for, but was in my price range and didn’t totally suck.
- We couldn’t agree on a venue. Once we did, we argued over menu choices.
- During our pre-wedding counseling my ex couldn’t come up with why he loved me. He settled on me being great with his son and pretty.
- We didn’t have a song, and we couldn’t agree on one. It was down to the wire when we picked one just because we needed to, but it was never “our song”
- The day before was a disaster. My parents were 1.5 hours late for the rehearsal, which put the rehearsal & the following dinner off schedule.
- After the dinner my now-ex left me at the restaurant and drove home with his best man.
- I, in turn, left by myeslf, abandoning my sister, who was my maid of honor.
- The next morning my father showed up in a tux that was not what had been picked out for him. (Turns out that etiquette requires a morning tux for weddings before 5PM, which we hadn’t chosen, but he’d be damned if he was going to break with protocol!)
- My mother announced that she had contacted the bakery and I was not getting the cake I wanted. I was getting the “cool” cake, covered in white chocolate curls, with no bride and groom on top.
- My hair wasn’t right, my sister was mad at me, I was mad at my spouse to be, and it started to rain.
- As we pulled up to the church the rain let up, and I thought “well, okay, maybe this the right thing to do”.
- As I walked into the church with my father I immediately saw that the carpet runner had not been rolled out.
I stood at the top of the church aisle with my father holding my arm and my entire body started to visibly shake. It was a moment I’ll never forget. Every cell in my body was screaming “this is not right; don’t do it”. When my father realized how much I was shaking he pulled me closer to him and started me down the aisle. When I got to my now ex, he took my arm and pulled me in so close I felt a sense of calm wash over me. I now understand it was the illusion he’d created that he would keep me safe, take care of me, be by my side for better or for worse. So, I got married. The reception went off without a hitch, except for my one drunk Uncle who kept wondering around loudly complaining about the table he was seated at. Otherwise, it was fun.
I don’t believe in signs, or fate, but as I look back on the events leading up to me entering into a 23 year terrible marriage, I can’t help but wonder what might have happened had I had my persistent cap on, instead of my tenacious one. Had I been able to see things with the mindset that sometimes you have to let your vision go to move forward, I might not have gotten married. Maybe then I would have seen that there was so much more at play then me not liking a dress, or my ex having little in the way of positive things to say about me, or in our lack of a song.
Hindsight is 20/20, so of course I now see all this. I now understand that there was something behind all of these issues. I was living an illusion, created by my narcissist ex. I was playing a role I wasn’t really clear on. I didn’t really know who I was supposed to be on any given day, or at any given moment. As I went through the grooming process, what little sense of myself I had before I met him slowly withered away. By the time I walked down that aisle, I was groomed, and ready to play the role he had written for me. I was ready to sink my teeth into the girl who quietly goes along with things she doesn’t really want. I was ready to put my wants and my need aside to make sure everyone else got what they wanted. I was ready to be the perfect companion to a covert narcissist. And it was all because I entered into that relationship with my tenacious mind; the mind that said this will work, come hell or high water. I will marry this man. Period.
While that marriage almost killed me, I have 3 marvelous children who I wouldn’t trade for anything, so some good has come from it. Perhaps even better, I’ve now come to understand the downside of being tenacious. With the help of my yoga instructors and my therapist, I’ll now focus on my persistent self and maybe say goodbye to that tenacious, scared little girl, who was so easily duped into giving up her hopes and dreams.
Time will tell, eh?