Set the Bar High

In 2001 when my third marriage was ending, I had a conversation with my soon-to-be-ex where he told me “You know, you would be much happier if you would just lower your standards.” At the time he said it, I couldn’t even formulate a reaction to it. I didn’t laugh or get angry or give him a lecture, and it took me hours to puzzle out how I felt about it.

I left my third husband for the man who was to become my fourth husband. We’d been married less than a year before it became evident that we had both been looking for very different things in a relationship. All three of my husbands to this point had been looking for the same thing: they all seemed to be looking to find their place in life, and then to just coast. Once they’d found a job and a wife, they’d never have to pick up a book or form an opinion.

Today is the epitome of why I left my first, second and third husbands. I went racing out of the house because I was out of yeast. Yesterday, I had used up the last of it making bread to eat with the big salad I’d made for dinner, and today, I’d intended to make pizza dough for dinner. But I’d forgotten yeast when I went to the store this morning. I ended up rushing to the store because I had to get the dough started before I picked up my daughter from her private school to take her to orchestra practice. Her concert is next week, and this is her last practice before the concert.

In the middle of my freaking out because I was going to be late picking up my kid, or not going to get dinner done on time, or in some other way fail, I had to stop myself and realize that no matter what, I was doing fine. My kid goes to a great school. She plays viola in a youth orchestra, and every time she practices, she wants me to hear her play because she’s so proud of herself. I race around looking for ingredients because every day, I make my family real food out of plants and grains and seeds, rather than opening some cardboard boxes and microwaving them.

I’m not going to pretend my life is perfect, but a large part of that is what I was born with. I’m what my therapist calls “constitutionally sensitive.” But I can tell you that the life that I have is far, far better than the life I would have had if I had lowered my standards. Now that I think about it, I laugh at the very thought. No one should ever lower their standards. Ever.

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