As humans we are all works in progress. We grow, we stumble, we learn and we change. My most recent long term relationship was with the father of my child. I fell in love with a sweet, charming, mostly happy guy. When he was this guy, everything was great. I don’t know if it was stress or pressure or timing, but gradually he changed. He became defensive about everything, angry about politics and religion, and generally depressed. Sometimes I think it was me, but the more I think about it, the less I believe that anymore. He moved in cycles. When he was up and happy, we did great. When he wasn’t happy, we were miserable. He’d complain that I wanted him to be different, that I wanted him to change. What I couldn’t make him understand is that the more he changed, the less happy I was. I wanted him to stay that sweet, charming, mostly happy guy who loved the sun and was supportive of people emotionally.
Maybe he felt trapped by the pregnancy. Maybe he felt less of a man when he was unemployed. I don’t know. But I hated that depressed and depressing person. The change I wanted was the guy I fell in love with back. I didn’t get it. He left me because he blamed me for his unhappiness. The odd thing is, that without having to worry about not rocking the boat and either making him unhappy, or furthering his depression with some minor comment that shouldn’t mean anything, I’m back to my happy self. Everyone says I’m better off without him. Maybe, for the place he is in his life right now, that’s true.
But I saw the magic we had when he was happy, when I could be happy without worry, it was like fireworks. It was loving and affectionate and supportive. It was perfection. We were the perfect couple during those times. We were the perfect family, with our child.
The lesson here is that we are works in progress. I know that I still am and I acknowledge that he is as well. But the optimist in me keeps hoping that happy, sweet, charming, funny, supportive guy will find his way back home at some point and leave that angry, depressing guy behind so that we can finally reach our potential as a couple.
But I’m not waiting around for that, because as much as people change, that change can’t be relied on. It’s enough for me to be happy right now, to have the weight of his unhappiness taken off of my shoulders. To not be told that I’m to blame. I’m heart broken, and I miss the guy I fell in love with greatly, but to be honest, I’ve been missing him for a couple of years now and I’m not prepared to settle for a shadow of that guy.
The moral of the story is: You can’t force someone to be what you want them to be. Even if what you want them to be is what they used to/are capable of being. You can only hope that at some point they see the negative changes and make their own effort to fix it. And if love is involved, you can only step back and let them know that you’re there to help, if they ask for it. In the meantime, focus on your own work in progress and personal growth, because that’s far more productive than waiting for someone else.
Just my random thoughts of the week.