I know a girl who’s involved with a situation I am intimately acquainted with. Actually I know two girls involved with oddly similar situations, but since only one of them reads my blog, this is for you and for everyone else, but it is also for me.
My marriage ended very slowly, but suddenly. The factors leading up to it built over the course of more than a decade. Primarily, my wife wanted a girlfriend. Perhaps to protect my fragile male ego, but more likely because she didn’t have the backbone or intestinal fortitude to walk away like a decent human being who cared at all for the people who care about her, she told me she wanted a girlfriend on the side. She said that “One person just couldn’t be everything she needed, that she needed a man and a woman.” In reality, she continuously claimed that there was this one specific girl meant so much to her that she could never let those feelings go. About 8 months after our official divorce, she’s engaged to a woman, but not THE woman. Go figure. How deep my ex-wife’s feelings must run.
As enough scar tissue grew around my heart and mind and life in the last few years, I eventually became insulated enough to walk away. It was still the hardest thing I’ve ever done. At some level, I feel like an abject failure. When a man breaks after months of torture and gives up the secrets he swore to protect, the world forgives him. It was torture. He never forgives himself. In much the same way, I swore an oath. I swore an oath long before my marriage vows, an oath as private and sacred as they come. Every time I thought about walking away, even thinking about it now, I felt the sting of failure.
Why do I tell you all this? Well, I am terrified of dating. There’s this girl I’ve spoken of so many times on this blog that I feel myself falling for every day. I make excuses for not asking her out. I have reasons that are temporary (though it may be a year before the reasons are addressed), but I have eternal excuses. Sure, part of it is the fear of rejection; we’ve talked enough and intimately enough that I know I’m not her type physically and that she claims she doesn’t want the emotional caretaking guy that I’m so comfortable being. But more importantly, I fear losing every piece of me that I am only beginning to rediscover.
Some people worry about being an emotional crutch to an emotional mess. As an emotional mess, I can tell you that I fear the crutch even more. See, crutches are great and an important part of healing. The problem is when the crutch defines you. That is the common negative usage of the term. Let me tell you this, I am looking for an emotional crutch right now, and I have one. It’s you. Instead of dating girls and leaving a string of relationships with other hearts broken or my own being repeatedly shredded, I put it out here. One day though, I hope you are not my emotional crutch, but I hope I don’t discard this blog by the wayside. I hope that what we have here and now can turn into something great. I hope to blog about a beautiful wife and kids… one day.
Therein lays the problem of coming out of a relationship that has crushed your soul and your heart into fine powder and mixed them both together. I have an active imagination and a good system of measuring emotional repercussions. I can imagine how much it sucks to be a crutch that gets discarded when the leg has healed. I can also imagine how much joy it is when you no longer need a crutch and don’t want to see it again.
I have a solution. It is very simple.
There is something powerful about injured soldiers helping each other. That is how I see life now. I am not looking for a crutch or a team of trained headshrinkers to carry me out of a combat zone on a litter and piece my heart and soul back together. I am looking for another hopeful romantic. Hopeful romantics know the pain love can bring, but never stop hoping for the joy anyway. You can come to me with a broken heart and baggage, memories and scars, and we can help each other through. However, when I am no longer a diamond in the rough, I will not be looking for the brokenhearted hopefuls. When I have healed my heart, I will be looking for a happy person who’s eyes glisten at challenges and at cupcakes.
So, to those of you who tend to become crutches, let me offer some advice. Share yourself. Share your heartbreak. There is a reason you feel comfortable being the crutch. You are seeking the hopeful romantics, and the single ones are brokenhearted with baggage. Every now and then, you may find a gem of a man who was a hopeful romantic that built himself up and dug himself out of the trenches by himself, but then he becomes a different kind of man altogether. So, for now, as you are certainly a hopeful romantic with a broken heart, find another of the same who will care for you as much as you care for them and carry each other to safety. No deeper relationship will ever be found than between people who saved each other.
You want to save someone. That is why you’re a crutch. Find someone who will save you at the same time.