It’s amazing how hard the first step of restoring integrity is: acknowledging that you broke your word.
I guess because it involves acknowledging too that you let yourself and others down, which feels like admitting you are “wrong.”
We know from the trainings we are all hard wired to avoid responsibility at all costs. And I think that’s something that remains difficult no matter how many transformational seminars you take. And yet, as we also know, being responsible — or rather, recognizing that you are, in fact, responsible for everything in your life — is THE thing that changes everything. Funny the way the world is set up, right? This sort of thing — that there are all these “lessons” embedded along the road to true success and happiness — is what convinces me there must be a God.
Being the integrity buddy, I’m of course focused on people missing blog days then restoring integrity (because it’s my “job” for the Cycle). I have therefore been seeing, firsthand, just how difficult that first step is–to simply say “I broke my word,” with no justifications, no excuses, no rationalizations.
In light of this, you would think that I personally would be doing better with it in my own life.
Over Memorial Day Weekend, Jimmy and I got in a fight about purchasing a new car. I’ll keep it brief: I promised Jimmy we’d buy a car by the end of the month, but I did absolutely nothing to prepare for it, and as a result backed out while we were sitting there at the dealership with his uncle (who was helping us).
When he called me on it, I focused on my justifications for backing out — I did not do the one thing I needed to do: acknowledge that I broke word, and that it had an impact on him and on me.
I also said what no provider in a family — male or female — should ever say: “It’s my money and I get to do what I want with it.”
Let’s all take a moment to put our heads in our hands on my behalf.
I did not back off my position for an entire day. I stubbornly stonewalled him instead, firmly dug into my reasons as to why I felt it was best to wait another month (but he didn’t care about or even hear my reasons; he couldn’t, not until I had restored integrity and acknowledged I broke my word).
What did Jimmy do while I was stonewalling him? He brought me my favorite take-out for dinner — with a raspberry iced tea that I had been craving for days — and otherwise stayed out of my way.
What did I do? I greedily ate the takeout and drank the tea and didn’t really thank him for any of it. I was angry at him for not listening to, or making any effort to understand, my reasons.
In truth? I was angry at myself for dropping the ball and letting him down.
He did something else that day, while I was stonewalling him. He went out and bought me a card. I could tell you what it said, but I think better to just show you. Here’s the front cover:
Here’s the inside:
This is the sort of thing that would make my dad cringe and tell Jimmy he needs to turn in his “man card.”
Of course, while I love my dad, that’s why I would never marry someone like him — and why I did marry Jimmy (one of the reasons, anyway).
Jimmy didn’t tell me about the card until the next morning, after I finally swallowed my pride and acknowledged I broke my word to him. Then he listened to my reasons, and we renegotiated a deadline for the car.
There are a lot of lessons in this incident for me, but one of the main ones was realizing how resistant I (still) am to looking someone in the eye and owning up to breaking my word — even someone I deeply care about.
The other thing I was reminded of was a conversation Jimmy and I had about past (and future) lives. In Buddhism and I think Hinduism, the theory is you keep repeating your time on earth (in different lives/bodies) until your soul finally learns all the lessons it needs to learn to be able to reach a state of enlightenment.
I told Jimmy I felt that he only had a handful of lifetimes left, at most — but he’d be waiting for me for a long, long time. He didn’t argue with me (lol), he just promised he’d wait, however long it took.