This Is How I Realized Love Cannot Complete Me

Jesse Parkinson
Jesse Parkinson

They were right when they told us to be complete, not to seek someone to complete us.

I used to think that I loved his patience and cheerfulness for a very simple, down-to-earth reason: admiration. That explanation was simple, clear-cut, no analysis needed. But in truth, it went far deeper than that. I realize this only now, five years after the fact.

Recently I noticed that I have a tendency to be drawn to individuals like him: happy-go-lucky, tolerant, zen. Maybe because I so lack these qualities. By attaching myself to people who do have them, I subconsciously try to introduce these values that have been so absent from my life, without working to actually teach myself to have them. Instead, in a sick roundabout way, I expect these people to be the ones who bring cheerfulness and zen into my life. Seeking completion in others, I suppose. The weird thing was that I never realized it.

And that was what was so fundamentally wrong with the way I saw him: not as an individual with his own weaknesses and secrets and insecurities, but as a set of characteristics that I enjoyed seeing.

And that was why, when he messed up so badly, I couldn’t unsee it, I couldn’t let it go. I found out that he had been lying to me for over a year, about many different things just to make himself look better, and telling my secrets to his best friend. My image of him was destroyed. It didn’t matter to me that he simply fucked up, that he, like everyone else, was sometimes guilty of doing purely selfish, or just plain stupid, things now and then. That he was imperfect. Because he didn’t fit this preconceived image I had of him, he was no longer the person I knew him to be and I stopped treating him as such. Not only did it look, to me then, like he was no longer my boyfriend, I stopped behaving like his girlfriend too.

It sounds so twisted when broken down like this, and it is twisted. I feel sick to my stomach to realize this now – and what makes it worse is that it flew entirely under the radar for five years. I never realized that I wasn’t treating him like a real person. And on his part, he sometimes tried to voice his pains – but I shut him down every time. Somehow, nothing he ever said seemed to reach me, the me that he loved, the me that he wanted more than anything to see more often. The me that was buried under years of painful experiences that shaped my behaviors and habits. So he broke up with me – after five years, he broke up with me. And there was nothing that I could say to change his mind. Me, the girl with all the words. All my words not doing a thing for me now.

The other way in which I ruined our relationship was this: the stream-of-consciousness narrative of my life that I imposed on him.

He was constantly and instantly subjected to every brutal mood swing that I underwent, and every rage, every sadness. He saw so little of the good in me – maybe I myself didn’t see it very much. Maybe what I saw of myself ultimately became what he saw of me.

Looking back on it now, I wish many things. Perhaps, if I had just valued myself in a less narcissistic, and more productive, way – retained some dignity when I was mad, took upsetting moments in my stride, showed more grace and class whenever someone pissed me the fuck off – his reaction would have been admiration and respect, not pity.

Every little thought that I had, he would hear about. There was no more holding back, no more mystery between us; he was my diary, my shrink. For two reasons: because I saw him as being there to fulfil me, and because I saw nothing in myself that deserved the extra thought before voicing out. These things were what ruined us in the end.

They were right when they told us not to seek someone who completes us, but to be complete on our own. Because that wonderful, beautiful person you eventually find, who you want more than anyone else? They can’t complete you. How can they? They have issues of their own. They have a history of their own that they themselves are trying to find an answer to, without having to deal with yours. So if you’re looking for Miss or Mr. Right, maybe make the effort to be Right yourself. Otherwise, all you’ll ever be in the relationship is dead weight for someone who deserves so much better.

To my now ex-boyfriend, I hope beyond anything else that you’re happier now, and that you’re learning things about yourself too. A selfish part of me still wants to be the person you go on date nights with every week, to watch us both grow old together, to see another super moon with you. But I know that I have a lot to change before I become the person you saw in me. Ironically enough, the person that you first knew me to be is someone that I need to take gigantic steps to become.

Thank you for teaching me, the hard way, that I can’t keep bullshitting my way through life. That everyone needs to eventually come face to face with a version of themselves that they had never realized was there before, a version of themselves that makes them want to smash the mirror and start over. And I’m gonna start the hell over. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love you, so very much. And I miss every single thing about you. TC mark

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