I am a big fan of The Amazing Race on television. I have seen every episode since it began. I feel that the series is the best reality-based program on TV. I have to admit that it lost its appeal to me last year, when the usual teams of two people were changed to four, having to be members of the same family. This year, everything is back-on-track and the thrill of the race is underway again.
A few weeks ago, I saw episode 5 of this ninth season. In that show, there was a snippet of a team made up of boyfriend and girlfriend, Ray and Yolanda. They were performing a task that involved carrying a 110 pound bell up a hill to a church, in order to receive a clue that would enable them to continue on in the race. Ray picked up the bell and carried it by himself up the hill. There was a voiceover by Yolanda, saying how proud she was of him and something to the effect that she knew he was the man for her.
When Ray reached the top of the hill, there was a priest standing outside of a church. He had their clue. Ray set the bell down beside him and, as he did, Yolanda said, “Just don’t drop it on his feet.” This tiny remark set off a trigger in my head that said she was the kind of woman that he would have a problem with later on. Simply put, I knew she would be a nag to him.
All it took was that one small comment to get me to believe this. Nothing she had said or did beforehand had led me to believe she was nothing more than an upbeat and compassionate girlfriend for Ray. Her actions and words after that point proved me right. In subsequent episodes, she made mountains out of molehills and pushed Ray’s buttons at every point. If he stays with her, he is in for some serious hardship.
Having said that, I have found myself involved in relationships where I did not see the telltale signs for myself. If it is so easy for me to see it in others’ relationships, why is it so difficult to see it in my own? Over and over again, I have had to pay for not picking up on the signals early on.
It wasn’t such a problem with my dating relationships, for I had an out, as does Ray. However, in my marriages there was no out. I have had to deal with the situation of being married to someone who wasn’t respectful of my wishes. This was the case in my first marriage and is the case now, in my second. The difference between the two is how I handled it.
Whereas before I would let the button-pushing affect my actions, I now just let it by, like water off a duck’s back. It isn’t worth getting upset about now. I have my two boys, Billy and Tyley, to consider. I don’t want the same thing to happen to them as it did to my first son Cameron. He could have used me there by his side everyday, but I blew that opportunity by reacting to his mother’s persistent nagging in a negative way. Consequently, she did everything she could to keep him from seeing me.
She could have been mature about the situation and accepted it for what it was, two people who simply shouldn’t have been together in the first place. Instead, she sought to place all the blame on our failed marriage upon my shoulders. Additionally, she did everything she could to hurt me, seeking a revenge for what she felt was a serious wrongdoing against her. (Actually, it was a wrongdoing, but not as serious as her mind turned it into over the years.) In the end, it wasn’t her or I who was hurt that much, but Cameron. Sadly, she cannot see that and continues to be steadfastly against me seeing him.
It has reached the point where I believe he doesn’t want to see me. I have no idea how he reached this point, but I suspect his mother’s persistent ranting had a lot to do with it. Honestly, I was always the best father one could be with him. Even though we have been apart for close to 15 years, I think of him every single day, wondering where he is and what he is up to. Wholeheartedly, I wish him all the success in the world, in all that he does which is good.
Having said all this, and gone off on a bit of a tirade here, I am left pondering the question of what would have happened had I picked up on the telltale signs and not allowed myself to become involved with someone who was predisposed to pushing my buttons. What would have happened had I found someone who was uplifting, someone who believed in me and encouraged me to be a better person?
Sadly, I didn’t only miss the telltale signs once on the road to marriage, but twice. All the dating I went through didn’t prepare me to know when to get out of a relationship before it was too late.
If I had to do it all over again, what would I do differently? That’s a hard question, because I wouldn’t have Billy and Tyley in my life now. For all the sorrow and deep despair of being in a loveless marriage, there is the unmatched joy that those two boys have brought me. I guess I would have to say that, even if I had seen the telltale signs, and known what I know today, I would have still gone through with both marriages.
Obviously, I would have handled myself differently in the first marriage, because I was a terribly ill-equipped husband. My level of maturity was at such a low level that I was unable to deal with a wife who constantly strived to push my buttons. I came back at her with the same negative energy that she threw at me. It was a terrible situation and I should have acted as I do now, in this similar situation. I should have let it go, chalking it up to my big mistake of not seeing the telltale signs.