There’s this common belief that love cures all things.
That once you meet this dream person, that he or she in their infinite wonderfulness will take away every ache and pain, scar and bruise – and you’ll feel absolutely, totally brand new. Anything that was wrong or imperfect before, anything you worried about, or anything that made you self-conscious instantly disappears and because you have this person’s attention and they are giving you unyielding love – you’re fixed.
Now, I haven’t met someone who I could seriously consider spending until-death-do-we-part with, so I can’t say if this belief is true and I can’t completely discredit the late Dr. Karl Menniger when he said: “Love cures people – both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it.” I do believe that love (and not just romantic) is good medicine. However, it’s not a cure-all.
But what I can confirm with total confidence is that I’m no Ms. Fix It. At least not, anymore.
Tuesday night I was walking home after dumplings with Mr. Unavailable (I swear he’s addicted to those things) and I was in a particularly great mood. I usually do not listen to my iPod when I walk because the North Carolina in me is still a little on-guard in her neighborhood, but I was in the mood for jammin’, so jammin’ is what I did. I put my playlist on shuffle and the first song that came on was “Fix You” by Coldplay.
As I walked down my block, listening to the somber words and feeling my boots click against the streets and the wind blow my hair in unattractive circles, I thought of the men I’ve dated, the men I’ve touched, and the men I’ve loved (or all three). And I realized that in every relationship I’ve been in – I’ve tried to “fix” the guys.
Now, this doesn’t mean I tried to change who they were, shape their beliefs, or dress them up how I would like (though, maybe a few times with Mr. Faithful, but that was high school) – but more so, make them feel better. In a way, turn all of their frowns upside down all the time, and anytime they felt poorly about some function or faucet of their lives – I attempted to be the one to change it for them.
I tried to be Ms. Fix It, and though with some I excelled at helping them grow into a stronger, better, and more confident person – with others, I failed miserably. Mr. Idea had a fit for six weeks where he was rather unaffectionate (among other things) and I lovingly called this episode a “funk” and disregarded each and every feeling I had to focus on him and his needs. With Mr. Fire, I pretended to lose my desire for commitment so I could fit into this box I thought he wanted me in.
I always, always put what they wanted, how they wanted it, and when they wanted it (“it” being a constant rotating wish-list) before what was important to me. In an effort to be the “girl who changed everything” or “the woman who made him a better man” or “the lady who swept away every badness and blessed him with goodness” – I stopped focusing on me and started concealing my dreams.
Now, I’ve already said that frankly, I do give a damn – and that’s still true, but even more so, I realize that I can’t make a man’s world. I can’t make a man who he is. And I don’t want to.
I don’t want to be the woman who swoops down and takes all of his pain and troubles away. I will listen to someone (man or woman) talk about the troubles they experience, the sadness they can’t get rid of, and the heartache that constantly tugs at them – but at some point, they have to get it together and deal with it. Sometimes, you just put your big gal panties on and you force yourself to push through it because it’s all you can do. I don’t want to be the one who jiggles his ego until it feels good or makes him realize his worth.
I would much rather be with someone who knows what they have going for them without me having to constantly remind them or solve their issues so they can reach happiness. It isn’t my responsibility to ensure someone’s joy or the success of their life or dreams by being the one to place them on a pedestal and shower them with compliments. My role, as a girlfriend, a lover, or a friend is to be there when they need me, and of course, to encourage them – but never, ever, define who they are. Or put them back together.
Part of the journey to learning to love myself is be just fine on my single two feet (pun intended). And to of course, fix my own problems. To be secure and wise and independent and value the power I have within to move forward through any situation. At times, I stumble and I fall, and I admit and face my weakeness straight on. But it is me, in my single-ness, who picks up the pieces and glues them back together. No man-part required for construction.
So, for the next one I get involved with or for the guy I will ultimately marry (or not) – please realize right this very second that I do not come with hammers and nails and screwdrivers. Whatever issues you’ve dealt with before you met me, deal with them, and I’ll deal with mine. When we are both complete and self-assured individuals – then we’ll meet. Then we’ll put our gorgeously chipped but stable whole pieces together and make something bigger than both of us.
Until then, I’ll be just fine here, collecting all of my many shortcomings and chaotic disasters and celebrating the beautiful mess that I am. Because I know, that with or without a love to “cure every inch” – I’ll be perfectly happy just in my own company.
And most liberating, I don’t have to be Ms. Fix It for anyone but myself.