The Woman who loved Fixer-uppers

12 Aug

I have a problem. I’m a nursemaid. I see a man with “potential”, and I jump in with both feet. I ignore their protestations of their personal problems, their “rules” for dating, their guidelines for what they will and will not do as my “boyfriend”, their inability to commit, their low self-esteem, their body image issues, their young age and related immaturity, their irrational hate for their jobs (but their refusal to do anything about them), their massive credit card debts, their crappy dating histories, their lack of trust because of cheating exes, their love of illegal substances, their arrested development, their emotional constipation. Ironically the one thing they all have in common is that when they date me, they’re pretty unwilling to change, when they should be interested in changing more than anyone else. They’re stuck. But at this point, I’m starting to wonder if I love them BECAUSE of these problems, because of their “potential”. But why? My parents are happily married. My father and brother are two of the most stand-up, dependable, terrific men I know. But these men…I’m attracted to them, one right after the other, bam bam bam–one having more problems than the last. Well, that’s not true–I’d like to think my taste is improving. Nathan has a career in architecture, he has a master’s degree from Michigan, he owns his own place, he used to swim competitively. But then the flip side–he hated his job and his bosses, his health went to shit, and his condo has been in a state of sad neglect and de-construction (literally, the walls are all stripped to the studs, he basically lives in one room and he has plastic sheeting hanging everywhere) almost since he bought the place 5 years ago. His condo is a metaphor for his life. He’s a work in progress. A fixer-upper. But in all fairness, I can’t say he didn’t warn me. Oh no, he warned me. And yet I thought the absolute power of my charm, wit, and talents would be enough to win him over. I overestimated the power of ME! Sadly, all of that wasn’t enough, as we broke up Sunday after 4 months of dating. And while I’m sad about it, and I miss him very much–the way he smelled, his laugh, how comfortable we were talking to each other, the way he scooped me up and held me while we watched a movie–I also don’t miss trying to fix what I didn’t break, what I’m unable to fix, what I have no control over. I can only do what I do best, which is to be supportive, love him as best as I can, and be a reminder to him of what is possible when he can get his act together. But do these guys get it together when they are with me? Oh no–only after I’m gone. Then they move in with their new girlfriends, get married, have babies, go to college, change jobs, and get promotions. I’m like the good luck ex-girlfriend. Lisa calls me a life coach. I’ve missed my calling!

I can only hope that as i have turned 30 this year, I can change my future choices (because Lord knows I can’t change my boyfriends). From now on I can strive to not rush things, “shop” carefully, pick someone who is ready to commit, wants me, and knows what they want. This kind of vetting takes some time, and until now I haven’t been giving it the time it deserves. But has that been working for me? After so many examples of the same fixer-upper boyfriend with different faces (who knew there could be so many??), I’d have to say…definitely not. So I guess I’m a work in progress too. As long as I recognize it, I’m ok with that. And as for Nathan–I don’t think he’s a lost cause (although I think he kind of thinks that of himself). He’s taking baby steps. I hope he figures out what he’s looking for, and I wish only the best for him. He knows how I feel about him. And we were important to each other, I know that. Maybe my loving him, even for a little while, is enough to get him moving in the right direction, though we’re no longer together. He’s a good man, and I trust that he’ll find his way…eventually. And he introduced me to the Black Crowes and Mofro–I love him for that alone!

As for me–time to get back to being my own work in progress! I’ve got stuff to do!

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