Remember the scene in “Ghost” when Molly is grieving Sam’s loss, and Carl is helping her clean out some of his personal belongings? Patrick Swayze’s character as the apparition is looking on as they uncover the Dave Brubeck concert tickets. Carl asks if he should toss the ticket stubs, and Molly says, “No.” She then has a silent moment of nostalgia over Rolaids. Meanwhile, Sam is watching in dismay because they hated that concert and has no clue what she’s remembering about the antacids.
I had a bizarre moment like that tonight. I re-read all 6,188 text messages shared between my ex and me, but I blame my geek-factor for enabling this Molly-Jensen moment. To defend the obsessive-sounding behavior, let me explain that I store everything I have electronic. If there were a “Digital Hoarders” show on the A&E Network, I would be the pilot episode. So, now I’ve deflected one neurotic moment with psychological disorder.
Of course, I discovered several strange things beyond the nostalgia. For example, there is superstitious evidence the Def-Leppard curse was real. I bought the tickets eleven days from our first date, and we broke up eleven days after the concert. Yes, my “beautiful” mind works in strange and statistical ways.
The good thing about this exercise is that I examined the courting-phase, the dance prior to actually coupling. I was able to examine my approach, technique…the “bait” so to speak. Now, let me be very careful how I phrase this. My former fiancé is a wonderful person with many admirable qualities; however, like all of us, those better qualities left certain other aspects of her persona without mastery. Thus, there were key characteristics which were simply less than my minimum requirement.
This is not an insult. All of us fit this same model of being a double-edged sword. A quiet, calm, level-headed person rarely becomes passionate enough for some partners. Perhaps a hyper-compassionate person is not a good match if his or her partner’s threshold for stray cats is low. Strange examples, I know – but it illustrates that some personalities just don’t work well together. Further, sometimes it takes a while to figure that out.
But I’m examining whether I am attracting women who will not fit my needs by the way I sell myself. While my ex-wife and most recent girlfriend are very different people, they do share some similarities in the areas that fell below my threshold. And if I keep finding partners with these personality traits, then I’m doomed to a cyclic pattern. Either that – or I have to accept that this is a price for the trade-off with the other characteristics to which I’m drawn, and therefore I have to change my standard. However, changing one’s standard is pretty hard to do when it’s not a preference.
What I have concluded is that I don’t recognize this “imperfection” in the women I chase until there is a critical incident, when my need is screaming. Suddenly, I have an expectation these women have never known from me, and almost unfair to them I hope they can deliver. But the truth is – they didn’t stand a chance; they were never equipped for the job. And these women from my past cannot be blamed for that. They are who they are – and it’s unfair to become angry at water because it’s wet.
However, I am very nostalgic and also quite sentimental, although those traits of mine are not often broadcast publicly. Because I have such a passion for closeness and familiarity, I cherish the memories I relived tonight. I don’t think most who know me platonically realize the level of intimacy I crave and feel when coupled with a serious partner. This attribute of mine makes me vulnerable to these memories. Without the proper safe-guards, I am drawn back to a ruined relationship like a moth to the flame.
So – in closing this post, I publicly confess my secret plan. In addition to my counseling therapy, I am going to create a secret group of good friends to keep me accountable. All the love and adoration I had for my ex-fiancé didn’t go away when we broke up. When I remember our moments over cheesecake or pancakes, I yearn for those moments again. However, to act on that desire is unsafe for me and unfair for her; thus, I can’t. But I may not be strong enough on my own; so I’m enlisting my friends, who I have called one of my most valued treasures more than once this week.
Finally, I realize this post is highly personal and mostly written for no one else’ benefit but my own. However, it is only through this level of transparency that I can achieve the honesty I need to do the right thing. My wounds need the open air to heal. Despite the vulnerability, for me to grow I must reveal these thoughts and confess my mistakes. The group I establish will aid me to make my thoughts become habits and eventually character and to modify those mistakes into my new mission.