Never Say Always

Twice in my life I have stood in front of family and friends and made very public promises that I would love and cherish another person for the rest of my life. Twice in my life I have had another person stand in front of their family and friends and promise to be there with me, through better or worse, until death do us part.

All four of those promises have been broken. My first wife broke her promise by emotionally, verbally, and, occasionally, physically abusing me. I broke my promise to her by refusing to put up with it any longer. My second wife broke her promise to me by deciding not to stick by me when I fell into a depressive state in which I neglected her needs. I broke mine by refusing her advances after she came to the realization that she had, in her opinion, made a mistake.

I have made promises to other people along the way. I have told friends that I would always be there for them through thick and thin. I will always be there for you, no matter what. I have your back. 

Sadly, life gets in the way. People change. Circumstances change. Emotions change. Always in motion is the future. Nobody can predict what life will throw at us. Just because you look into the future and don’t see any circumstance that would make you break your promise doesn’t mean that any such circumstance doesn’t exist. I have broken more promises in the last year than I care to admit and it has taught me to no longer make promises. I feel shame, utter shame, for the promises I have broken. I surely never meant to make promises I couldn’t keep, but that doesn’t absolve me from the mistakes I made in making them.

There is an old saying: never say never. The idea behind that saying is that you can never predict where life will take you and you should never rule out the possibility that you’ll do something that you wouldn’t consider doing in that very moment. For instance, after my first marriage ended I told everyone who would listen that I’d never get married again. Then I fell in love with my second wife. After the twins were born I said I’d never have another child. Then I married my second wife and had a third child. I once swore that I’d never wear flip-flops. They were ugly. Then I bought a pair to wear for a trip to Myrtle Beach and realized I enjoyed the laziness of putting on flip-flops over the annoying task of putting on shoes and socks. Hell, there was a time as a teenager when I swore I would never drink alcohol. I think we all know how that one turned out.

So I have learned to never say never. I have also learned to never say always. I no longer make promises to anybody. Even the simplest promise, born from the kindest place in your heart, can lead to heartache if you fail to follow through with it. Nothing is guaranteed. Absolutely nothing. This is a lesson I have learned the hard way. I have hurt people I never, ever dreamed of hurting. The hurt I have caused them has, in turn, caused me indescribable pain.

So, please, beware with your words. Your intentions may be pure, but the consequences could be dire.

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About Twindaddy (332 Articles)
Sometimes funny. Sometimes serious. Always genuine.

92 Comments on Never Say Always

  1. In the heat of the moment we mean those things – but you’re right – we just don’t know…

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  2. Gah, TD, must you be this intense, this articulate, so early in the morning? Who once said the only thing permanent is impermanence?
    I can’t ever fall in love the way I did with my kid’s father (lyrics to yesterday’s song, “love disfigured me”) but I fall in love, to some degree with everyone, all the time – knowing that I will probably get hurt.
    And I continue to make promises. I’m an idiot.

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  3. Wisdom bomb right there. My motto is generally under-promise, over-deliver. None of us can predict the future though and it is important to forgive yourself and others when things change or go in directions that you can’t anticipate.

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    • You’re right. I’ve done my best to forgive and I hope those I’ve hurt will consider forgiving me.

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    • That that is your motto reinforces why I generally consider you to be smarter than me.

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    • I have the same motto. But when you marry someone, you make an oath “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part”, or something to that effect – and it’s awfully hard to over-deliver on that promise. 🙂

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      • Dave & I were married by a Tibetan monk who just sort of winged the entire thing after he realized we weren’t following the Tibetan version. In the process, Dave and I promised to not cheat on each other during business trips and to hold each others hands on sad days. That’s the sort of under-promise that it’s easy to over-deliver on.

        In other words, everyone should be married with Google-translate-like vows!

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        • You and Dave are both very wise and special people. In the past I’ve been prone to stubbornness and not thinking things through to their conclusion before I act. Even now I’m doing things that most people think I’m stupid for doing, but my heart compels me to do them despite what my brain and/or friends are telling me.

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      • It’s hard to UNDER-deliver on that promise. It’s a huge fucking responsibility and commitment, and one I took very seriously, even if I may not have been good at it.

        I don’t foresee myself ever doing it again.

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  4. Good insight TD but remember there is so much about life that is out of control especially where other peoples choices, feeling and reactions are concerned. Don’t beat yourself up too much. live and learn right?

    I wrote a piece about this sort of thing. I just started to realize that every time I said “always” or “never”, I was ignoring a want/need/feeling and actually working against myself. Does that make sense???? I will share the link to the post with you. If you choose to read it please know it was one of the first things I wrote so go easy on me! I

    http://tdawneightyone.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/i-will-never-d…n-her-twenties/

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  5. totally. there is no never, and unfortunately, there generally is no always. absolutes are hard. i say, never think you’d never do something. you have no way of knowing what life’s circumstances await.. good or bad. as for always, i say, always do your best and that’s the best you can do.

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  6. Sarah Brekke // January 22, 2014 at 10:12 am // Reply

    I believe Shakespeare said, “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” Promises definitely lead to expectations. I was always taught, never make a promise you can’t keep. Well I don’t trust myself to keep many promises so they are seldom spoken.

    Life lessons are hard, but at least we’re learning.

    {{hugs}}

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  7. TD, you need to cut yourself some serious slack. I don’t read every post and I don’t know all the dotted i’s and crossed t’s of your past, but you come across as a pretty genuine, sympathetic, empathetic person who cares about people, your kids, and your friends. So either you are psychopathically and pathologically good at portraying that in an online persona in order to get sympathy, (wouldn’t be the first), or you need to cut yourself some slack. I vote for the latter. We ALL hurt people, often the ones we love the most. We’ve all broken promises. But the thing about love is that it expands. When you love someone, when you put your heart and soul in their arms for safekeeping, sure, you’re taking a risk. But the benefits outweigh the risks. And when that person hurts you inadvertently, the love that you have stretches out to patch up the holes so that it is whole again. That’s what love does. You have that for your kids, I’ve seen it in the way you write about them. So have some breakfast and give yourself an extra helping of slack with it.

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    • Wow. I don’t even know how to respond to this. No, I’m not fishing for sympathy. It annoys me when people do that.

      I don’t know how to cut myself any slack, either. I’ve made mistakes and now I need to learn from them. I’m not going to ignore the fact that I made them or the damaged caused. Especially when some of those mistakes are thrown in my face. I accept responsibility for those blunders. This post is my way of conveying that.

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      • I know you don’t fish for sympathy, I think you’re too hard on yourself. Yes, learning from mistakes is good. But think about this too: if someone is hell bent on continuing to throw your mistakes back in your face, it is for no other reason than to make themselves feel better or to make you feel worse. And that, in and of itself, is a mistake–on their part. And so it all goes around. Don’t be so hard on yourself, man!

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  8. In the end, you’re a little older and a little wiser.
    Every one of those promises was sincere at the time it was made.
    And sometimes, the other person changes and isn’t the person you made the promise to.

    Just be you. People will take that your character as more reassuring then anything you could say.
    As far as I know, it’s a good character.

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  9. I have nothing I can add to your post, other than one of my favorite songs of the 80’s…

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  10. I understand where you’re coming from, especially when wanting not to hurt others. But some part of me can’t shake the feeling that this is an easy-way-out argument – perhaps, a way to not have to commit to something or someone ever. And there’s a solid argument for not committing if one knows that doesn’t work for them. But I believe that “always” is not only possible but probable whenever one is dealing with a situation entirely in their own control. I can decide I will always love my children, for example, that nothing they do to anyone or to me will change that. Good luck finding or creating a circumstance that would change that for me. See what I’m saying?

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  11. Always smart to be aware of the consequences of your words. They can be just as powerful as any action. They can move worlds. They can change lives.

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  12. I always never say always… no… wait… I never say always… no… I never always say never or always…

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  13. I also think you should go easier on yourself. Both the promises you made were more or less obviated by the broken ones by others. They fucked up, not you.

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  14. Twindaddy, is it bad that I just want to sit down and play some Scrabble and not think about the weight of the topic?

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  15. I think we should always mean what we say, which why we should do our best to choose our words carefully. But in the end, we are all human beings. And I think a lot of us have a hard time dealing with the fallibility of ourselves and others.

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  16. Always and never are like forever; impossible, because all things come to an end.
    Promises are a sticky business, even when you just promise to try. But I think there’s a reason why we promise ourselves and others even when we are aware on some level that “always in motion the future is”. Not sure what the reason is, though. Haven’t lived long enough yet, and the human heart is a complicated thing.

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  17. Gosh, this post is extremely sad. No one is perfect.

    I give a heartfelt I will do my best, and even that falls short. You are a really good person, dear.

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  18. My Muted Voice // January 22, 2014 at 2:15 pm // Reply

    Oh TD, I can so appreciate what you’re saying. I think about those same things all the time. I think you have a point that we could be more careful with what we say. We don’t have to make such promises to be a good friend. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” is a phrase that always seems to haunt me. Anyway, I’m sorry if you’re sad/blue as was indicated in some of the comments. If there’s ever anything I can do, let me know. We can set up those free skype therapy sessions. 😉

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  19. Almost everything I swore I’d never do, I end up doing. But it was more like ‘I will never wear black!’ (I was 15. By 16 I wore but black.) I started being afraid of saying I’d never do something as I seem to break all those promises…
    That’s also one of the things scaring me about marriages indeed. You can just never know what will happen, so you actually shouldn’t pretend you can know such things perhaps…?

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  20. Human interaction is such an imperfect science, largely because of the fallibility of humans as Calamity Rae says. As the saying goes life has to be lived forward but is only understood looking back ad as such you can only do your best at the time with what you have and know.

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  21. TD, I don’t know you well but I know, from reading your pieces, that you are very in tune to your emotions and open to learning about yourself. Trust in that.

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  22. Lessons are sometimes very hard to learn.

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  23. Twindaddy,
    You’ve never lied tome, so you can take pride in that fact.
    Be well, buddy.
    The Hook.

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  24. Sorry, TD! I’m late to this post and have nothing original to tell you, but wanted to hop on and give you my support. If it helps at all, we all do those promises at one time(S) or another. It’s part of the human experience. A learning experience. xoxo

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  25. When we say things like “never” and “always”, we really mean “never”/”always” if our life’s circumstances are frozen from this moment on and nothing else changes in our life. Unfortunately, it’s usually not a realistic assumption.

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    • No, it’s not, but you’re not thinking of those things when you make those promises.

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      • We’re not thinking that consciously, no, but neither do we think of all possible scenarios where it may become necessary to break the promise, to add caveats to it. Few people say “I will stay married to my spouse even if he/she begins abusing me daily” – and as you well know, this is not at all a theoretical situation.
        We just make the promise and try to do our best to keep it, but we can’t control all of our circumstances.

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  26. I couldn’t agree with this post more. Very well said. No one knows what tomorrow brings, heck I don’t even know what I’ll be doing tonight! I really like that; never say always.

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  27. I prefer to always say never.

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  28. And then sometimes I do

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