One of the things that’s really been challenging in my life is living with a prejudged mistake. If you wonder what I mean, just wait until I tell you why it’s only half the problem.
Mistakes Made and Mistakes Made
When I became divorced it forever changed my life. There were the normal things that occur with divorce, but there were aspects of my divorce that had a much bigger effect on the course of my life.
I grew up in a social group that believed getting a divorce was about one of the worst things you could do. My church, family, and friends all categorized divorce as one of the terrible things that happens to people with bad judgment.
After my divorce, I took all that on. There was a huge amount of judgment and disappointment thrown my way. It was a heavy burden on me. It weighed on me all the time.
But it didn’t come from where you might expect. In fact I was surprised how little of it came from where I expected. Living with a prejudged mistake taught me something: it taught me how to judge myself.
The thing is that so many people told me how horrible I was. They told me what a stupid, selfish, godless, evil person I was.
But they didn’t do it on purpose, and they didn’t do it to my face. In fact, they did it to me across time.
See, they had told me so many times what people who did what I did were like, that as soon as I became that, all that judgement and anger and disgust immediately fell on me. How could it not? After all, they told me what people who did this were like, and I had done this.
Living with a prejudged mistake was painful, but here’s the thing: I did it. I did the thing.
Am I saying that I deserved the judgment? No. Am I saying that they were right in what they said? No. I’m actually saying something quite different.
Living with a Prejudged Existence
The other day I watched a video of a white woman who had a Black boy. She talked about how, statistically speaking, her Black son was more likely to be a criminal than her white kids.
I can’t even begin to unwrap the pain that boy is going to experience, the prejudice of his mother or the glaring misunderstanding that being imprisoned at a higher rate speaks more to a broken element in society than in a person. All of that horrible baggage aside, here’s what I want you to think about.
I am a lot of things. I don’t want to be defined by my worst mistakes or by any mistakes, and yet I’ve been living with a prejudged mistake for a fair portion of my adult life. But at the end of the day – right or wrong – I did the thing that I’ve been judged for.
Imagine living a life full of all that prejudged angst, not for what you did, but for simply who you are. What a terrible burden to bear. Imagine every job you interview for, every loan you apply for, and every time you’re pulled over that you are prejudged not by your actions, but by some metric you have no control over.
If you don’t understand why we say Black lives matter even now, then you must not be living with a prejudged mistake, because I can tell you, as someone who did the action, it sucks. The thing is, if there’s no action needed to be prejudged, how do you ever not do it?