My husband and I built our dream home in 2002. We picked out everything and paid close attention to even the smallest details. The tile, the carpet, the paint colors, we adjusted a few room measurements here and there so that our home was built the way we wanted it.
I didn’t want towel bars on the wall in the master bath so I purchased a decorative towel stand that accommodated two hanging towels. I was proud of our home and I wanted it to look picture perfect as if it were staged for a magazine shoot.
After showering I would fold my towel neatly and drape it over my designated bar on the stand. My husband, on the other hand, would use his towel and throw it over his designated bar with no regard as to how it looked. It drove me crazy I would become furious.
His towel was haphazardly thrown, it was messy and half of it would be lying on the floor. Every morning it was the same thing; stumbling half asleep into the bathroom I would look to see if by chance he took the time to fold his towel as I had asked him to do a hundred times before.
My husband is great at keeping the dishes clean and picking up after himself, but when it comes to hanging a dish or bath towel he just can’t master the art of hanging them as neatly as I thought they should be. It didn’t bother him how the towel was hung, as long as it was hung up. His mission was accomplished and he would happily go off and enjoy his day.
I was obsessed with needing to control everything. Everything had to be perfect and perfectly in its place. My morning ritual began with me being angry at my husband and I would grab his towel and neatly fold it and precisely place it on its designated bar, and I would spend the rest of my day complaining about that and everything else. “It’s just a towel” he would say.
At the end of 2007, I lost my job. The following year, 2008, the economy completely tanked. I was unable to find employment so my husband encouraged me to write my memoir “His Puppet No More.” He said, “that’s your job now.” He remained employed until the summer of 2010 then he was laid off. He searched for employment in and out of the state of Florida and luckily, three months later, he found a job in another part of the state.
Desperately wanting to keep our dream home we lived apart for three years, only seeing each other on weekends. That same year I started my own business as a professional speaker and coach. We took turns driving for our weekend visits. It was a 6 to 7-hour drive one way.
Driving after work on Friday and returning to our designated homes late Sunday evening the drive was exhausting, and the stress was taking its toll on our health and our marriage. Our weekend visits were reduced to once a month taking turns traveling to visit the other.
Back in our dream home, I spent several weeks alone. Waking one morning, just as I had a 1000 times before, I stumbled into the bathroom. Stepping onto the cold tile floor I looked towards the decorative towel stand. Folded neatly and draped on its designated bar was my towel and only my towel. It looked as lonely as I felt and I began to cry. I grew angry at myself realizing how much time and energy I wasted being mad and complaining over a stupid towel.
Life isn’t perfect, it’s messy at times and doesn’t run according to the way we think it should, and it’s not meant to. That morning, crying in the bathroom I began to smile and, laughing through the tears, I miraculously traded my expectation of life to an appreciation for my life. I discovered the joy of gratitude that day.
We had to sell our dream home and together we moved to a new city. We bought an older home and we spent some time fixing it up. It isn’t built exactly the way we want, and it’s messy at times, but that’s perfectly OK.
I realized that when I tried to control everything I wasn’t in control of anything, and I allowed it to control my emotions. Today I am in awe of my choices and choose to start my day with an optimistic outlook, no matter how life happens to materialize.
Now, when I stumble into the bathroom each morning, I am happily filled with gratitude. Haphazardly hanging on the wall there are two towels. Walking past them I smile and leave them hanging in their messy perfect imperfection. Yep, he was right, “It’s just a towel.”
Peace, Love, and Ciao for Now!