I am so proud of my wife today. And perhaps part of that is why this is a bit of a difficult day for me.
I don’t really know how to feel right now. It’s a tough day, but a good day – the theme of the day is “inner conflict.” Within my own conscience right now, two emotions are battling for supremacy: Pride and Regret. But my pride isn’t the bad kind of pride – it’s a sweet flavor of pride. Because right now, I am exceedingly proud of my wife, who begins her new career today – ideally, the career she will have for the rest of her professional life. And it’s the same career I started on nearly this same day, ten years ago – the same career I ruined for myself. And that’s where the regret comes in. And yet, I understand that this is a change for her, and for me, so this change will soon become routine – become the norm – and this sense of regret will pass (I hope), and I will be happily left with my spousal-pride; because I really am proud of my wife for overcoming everything I’ve put her through. And here she stays, with me.
Even I am willing to admit that I’ve had a recent all-encompassing musical preference for the music of Guns N’ Roses, ever since my wife and I went to their Not In This Lifetime concert in Kansas City. So this morning, it was no surprise that their Greatest Hits CD was playing in my car on my way to work. But she was also on her way to work – to her new career. When she called me as we were both en route, my Bluetooth car stereo answered my phone and I talked to her as she drove to New Teacher Orientation. We had a nice talk, as we always do, and I did my best to bestow what logistical advice I could, being a former teacher talking to a new teacher. She seemed excited and nervous and anxious and happy, and I am happy for her. But most of all, I’m proud of her. And when our conversation ended, the music in my car resumed in time to hear the ending of my wife’s favorite Guns N’ Roses song, “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” (Funny story about this song: The iconic opening riff was actually Slash’s guitar warm-up riff that he used before recording sessions and shows, but when Axl heard it, he loved it and they wrote a song around it – something unexpected became something great.)
The next song that played was “Patience,” the acoustic ballad from their 1988 album “G N’ R Lies.” This song is about as un-Guns N’ Roses as it gets – a lamenting ballad about missing the one you love, but knowing love will persevere. “All we need is just a little patience,” the song sings with optimism. And this sentiment gave me comfort. My wife and I have overcome so much – most of which has been of my own doing – but I feel like we’ve finally made it. She’s finally reached the career she’s been seeking for a long time, and there is no one who is more deserving. She’s worked so hard, and she has finally been rewarded with a career she will love. But she didn’t merely need “just a little patience,” she need a lot of it. Actually, her natural sense of patience will be the asset that makes her successful – she is a Special Education teacher – and I know first-hand about her natural sense of patience. Her ability to be patient and tolerating is likely the precise reason why we are still married. So along with being an amazing wife, I have every confidence that she will also be an amazing teacher.
But that’s where my regret steps in. I’ve written in the past that I have no regrets, only remorse. But as I watch my wife embark on her new career, I may have been mistaken. The choices I’ve made have indeed led me through a difficult path toward becoming the best possible version of myself, but I suppose I regret the fact that I ruined my career as a teacher. Please understand that I do feel horrible and hold the utmost remorse for hurting the people I hurt – including the women with whom I had serial affairs as well as my former student, and of course, my wife – but this is different. And honestly, I don’t know how to feel. I mean, after getting a few years under my belt, I was a really good teacher. But for me, teaching wasn’t my passion or my life or anything like that; it was my job, and I enjoyed the financial and practical stability that came with having a salaried career. However, now I don’t have that. Now I have an hourly job. Granted, it’s cool to have a job in a law firm, with my own office and my own caseload, but it’s just not the same. I suppose part of me knew that I was making a noticeable altruistic difference in the lives of others. Now, I just write legal documents and research statutes.
I am eternally thankful for the numerous former students who have contacted me following my release to tell me, regardless of everything that has happened, I had a positive impact on their lives. Those letters and phone calls have meant more to me than I could ever describe with words, and I’m pretty damn good with words. But I guess my biggest regret is, because of my choices, I can no longer do that anymore.
Or can I? Certainly not as a teacher, but perhaps I can still be someone who makes the lives of others just a little better. I was a really good teacher, but I can’t do that anymore. And there’s only one other thing in this world that I’m really good at – writing.
My book is almost done. And I’ve been exploring publication options for a while, confiding in my friends and family, seeking their advice and opinions; soon, I will be ready to send my manuscript out into the world. But I can’t rush it. It must be finished, it must be thorough, it must be great. All I need is just a little patience. And support. But I already have the support. I have a wife who is behind me 100% in this endeavor, and who has already told me countless times that she’s willing to work a little harder in order to make this possible for me.
Never ever have I ever met a better human being than the woman I married.
This coming Saturday, August 13, will be 13 years that we’ve been together – not married, together. She became my girlfriend – “officially” – on August 13, 2003. We were married on January 7, 2005, and celebrating our wedding anniversary is our annual celebration of us. But every year on August 13th, we do not celebrate “us;” August 13th is my day, every year, to celebrate her. I am fully-aware that our marriage has survived because of her, not me. My choices could have destroyed our marriage, but her love, forgiveness, and patience provided the foundation that has allowed our marriage to persevere through the absolute worst of times, leading to today – the best of times. We’ve seen numerous friends (and former friends) of ours go through divorce after divorce, failing to survive problems that seem to be minuscule compared to what we’ve overcome, and I credit that all to my loving and forgiving wife..
Together, we have shown everyone around us that we belong . . . together.
Together, we have built a marriage that stands strong under the weight of every challenge that comes our way . . . together.
“You and I’ve got what it takes to make it…”