This post is Grassroots, meaning a reader posted it directly. If you see an issue with it, contact an editor.
If you’d like to post a Grassroots post, click here!

July 30, 2020

Balancing on Humility’s Edge

I’ve written a little about humility, but the truth is, this characteristic deserves an entire book. I published an article called “11 Things Divorce Taught Me…,” and mentioned humility as #7. It’s been four years since my divorce, and humility is slowly making its way to the top of the list of lessons learned.

I’m doing fine – since the divorce. Actually, I’ve had some of the happiest days of my life. But every now and then, the humility will hit me. Hard – the way a roller coaster stops at the end of a ride – quick, with a jerk to the neck. And I admit to myself that my happiness came with a very large price. I’m overcome with the loss I’ve experienced over the last four years and I ponder whether it was worth it. Mostly, I can handle the change, because I initiated it, but it’s the realization that even though I did the best I could to maintain my integrity and to consider others along the way, I am still disliked and even hated by some.

“The greatest burden of my life is that my happiness has resulted in the unhappiness of others – others whom I love and care for.”

Humility has become so deeply embedded in my thinking that it borders on worthlessness. I say it “borders,” because that’s the thing about humility – it intentionally sits on the edge of the cliff in order to keep you humble. Humility would no longer exist if arrogance strapped a rope to it and pulled you to safety. And it would become despair if you fell over the cliff’s edge. I’ve been on both sides of humility. That’s what divorce does. It pushes you between arrogance and despair, back and forth until you get your footing (and you allow for some time to pass.) Balancing on the edge is where you discover humility.

Early in my divorce, I stood firmly on the side of arrogance: “I was right to leave my marriage. I deserved to be happy. Kids are resilient. The ex would be fine – and if he wasn’t, fuck him.”

And then I stepped into despair: “I’ve ruined the kids’ lives. I’ve lost too much to survive this. I deserve to be ghosted and bullied. I’m a bad, selfish person.”

It took four years, but I can finally say that I’ve found the balance. I still walk carefully on the cliff’s edge of humility, understanding that I could fall over either side at any moment with the slightest breeze – or harassing text, or disregarded voicemail, but I can usually see the shift coming. The cliff’s edge is narrow.

All said and done, I’ve maintained my worth. And in some areas of my life I feel more worthy than ever before: in love, in motherhood, in sisterhood, in daughterhood. All relationships feel fragile and at the very same time, more secure and more important.

Some relationships are still hard. The peace I fought so hard for in love has been traded for hostility elsewhere. I know I won’t always be liked – and that’s strange for me. I used to pride myself on my likability – but humility doesn’t give a shit about you or your likeability. That’s tough for me, because I’ve always considered myself sweet – sweet and likable – those traits were my defense and my recourse. Now, I’m trying to respect the need for others to dislike me – despite my sweetness. I’m also realizing that no amount of sweetness can excuse me from the consequences of my actions. Whoa.

Humility is the loss of ego – but my ego comforted me for so long and I don’t always want to let it go. I’m still battling the ego, wishing that I felt more confident. Confidence is such a force – although, a fake force of security. The difference in having confidence and having humility is that confidence is usually met with accolades. There’s no pat on the back for being humble – but that’s the point. The agreement is between you and your conscience. Besides, the accolades become less important when you surrender to humility. It definitely has a way of forcing a person to grow – and to grow up.

“Humility is finding your worth while acknowledging the lack of your own importance.”

The challenge is to accept humility as growth and not punishment. Some days it feels like my heartache is payment for the decisions I’ve made – and I have allowed myself to go to that dark place, believing that I deserve the pain I’ve felt. But I’m learning to accept the outcome of my actions as the very thing I had hoped for. I’m learning to accept days of discomfort in exchange for happiness. I’ve also found that it’s incredibly important for some people to be angry at me – and that’s okay. I feel less like defending myself anyway, and more like moving forward. Finally.

“Humility is finding happiness without the condition of others being happy for you and despite their own happiness or unhappiness.”

Humility is the truest form of acceptance. It’s learning to separate yourself from the decisions and experiences that have defined you, but learning to respect that others may forever associate you with those imperfections – even the people that love you. Humility requires you to stop overcompensating for your mistakes and to do your best to love others without the condition of ultimate forgiveness. It requires growth greater than I can attest to.

I just want to be liked and loved in spite of my mistakes, but if I’m honest, I can’t always give that grace to others. That kind of growth is next for me. I’m trying to accept my own imperfections first, before I work on separating the bullshit actions of others from the people I want them to be. And I hope to one day stop wishing others were different.

As for what makes me worthy: it’s not about my decisions being “worth it” or about me being worthy of happiness. It’s about accepting my decisions as the best they could be at the time they were made and accepting the outcome of those decisions, good and bad. It’s about knowing my worth when others dislike me. It’s about knowing I am loved despite my mistakes – and for that I am humbled.

Leave a Thoughtful Comment

Read 0 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Tara Gaffney  |  Contribution: 4,440