I’ve been stubborn since before I was born. So stubborn that it took an emergency C-section to get me out of the womb. I came into the world two weeks late with my umbilical cord wrapped tightly around my neck in protest. It’s taken a whole 25 years for me to realize that my stubbornness is my own worst enemy, and has been all my life.
For one, it’s crippling, especially to relationships. When you’re stubborn you DON’T apologize under any circumstance, even when you’re dead wrong and you know it. It becomes a mental and physical impossibility. There have been times that I wanted to apologize, but the words literally wouldn’t leave my mouth. “Sorry” sits at the tip of my tongue and burns me up from the inside out. But I won’t say it.
Even in situations where “sorry” could have saved me, my stubbornness would rather let me drown. When you’re unable to express regret it starts to fill you up inside, and holding onto it is like keeping something spoiled in your refrigerator: you know it needs to be disposed of, but it sticks around until it rots and sours your space with its foulness.
Stubbornness is like having the sun in your eyes. You can’t confront it face to face. It permeates you. It’s engrained in you, and you lose things because of it. You lose people, too. You miss opportunities and grapple with it until you’re red in the face. You struggle, but it holds you hostage within its unforgiving grasp. It shuts you down emotionally and becomes an ugly sore that’s intent on infecting all aspects of your life, but, at the same time, it’s also your friend.
Stubbornness becomes such a part of you that you become accustomed to using it to your advantage. It’s your defense mechanism and your scapegoat. I’ve used it to build walls that are nearly impenetrable. Stubbornness has been my protector at times, riding valiantly into battle and desecrating anything with the potential to damage my spirit or cripple my pride. But it simultaneously paralyzes me with guilt. The sobering reality is that I pay a high price for being as stubborn as I am.
Being stubborn is my excuse and my downfall. It’s prevented me from allowing myself to be vulnerable. Like I’ve never been the first to say I love you, even when I could feel it in my bones. I won’t play a game I’m likely to lose, but I’ve lost plenty of people who I’ve cared deeply for. I hold onto grudges like my life depends on it. I can’t ever admit that I’m wrong or expose my insecurities, and that leaves me feeling alone−sometimes quite literally alone.
I feel awful that my boyfriend is forced to deal with me at my most stubborn, but I’m forever grateful that he does. He tells me that when we argue I treat him like he means nothing to me. That’s the stubbornness rearing its hideous head. Blinding me until all I see is red. I can’t look past my anger long enough to fix our problems, but I can see his face disappearing into the distance.
In the aftermath of our arguments I stand victorious. I’m impossible to reason with and he would rather surrender than endure my emotional siege any longer. It’s only when the smoke clears that I get a glimpse of the damage I’ve done: the inner rubble that will undoubtedly take months to rid ourselves of.
At some point your stubbornness starts to drain everyone who gets close to you. At some point they’ll give up on you because they are sick of your insistence on being deemed right. They are sick of the sorry you never let slip. They are sick of your grudges hovering over their heads. These questions trigger the same sensation every time, repeatedly stinging like salt on a wound: Why can’t you just admit that you’re wrong? Why can’t you just apologize? Why can’t you just let it go? And you’ll reply, exasperated, “Because, I’m stubborn as hell.”