Remember this 90’s gem?
Oh man, I really can’t stand Zellweger. But, the bigger problem here is Mr Cruise’s line. “You complete me.” Oh man, that sounds so nice doesn’t it. Romantic, epic. *sigh.*
Here’s the problem. This whole cultural story, this fairy tale, doesn’t lead to healthy relationships. We are all waiting for the ‘Happily Ever After’, when we should be creating ‘Happy This Moment.’ I have been reading about Codependent relationships recently (I am trying to figure out how to be a good friend in various situations…) and it is pretty disturbing. Codependent used to refer to a person who enabled an addict, like the wife of an alcoholic. Now the definition is broader, and includes a person who stays in a relationship that is unfulfilling, doesn’t value their own needs, enables emotional or physical abuse, and is addicted to the hope that things will get better. (That is a really watered down summary from someone with zero medical knowledge. If you’d like to read more, start here.) What’s worse is that women are trained from a young age to be caregivers, mediators, multi-taskers. This positions us to be more susceptible to a codependent relationship, as does the fact that women are overwhelmingly more likely to be victims of abuse (95% of all domestic abuse victims are women, 1 is 6 women are victims of rape or attempted rape vs 1 in 33 men. The stats are overwhelming.) When you are in a codependent relationship, the hardest thing is to leave, and from what I’ve seen there are two main reasons for this. The first is that codependent people are desperately afraid of abandonment. The second is that the qualities of a codependent person are often encouraged in women, and many think that codependency is how love should feel. And in fact, some shrinks claim that all relationships include levels of codependency, making it even harder to distinguish between a close relationship and an unhealthy one.
But needing someone isn’t loving them. Being afraid to leave isn’t a good reason to stay. The most romantic thing I’ve ever heard anyone say is “Your mom and I could leave each other any day. If she found someone better, or I didn’t make her happy, we could have separate lives. We’d survive on our own. But I don’t want that, so it’s my job everyday to make the life we’ve created together a life that she wants to keep. It’s my job to make her want to stay.” Yea, Kenneth gets it. At first you think, wait that’s kinda weird. You could just leave, I mean damn. And then you realize, being able to leave but wanting to stay, that’s overwhelming. That is how love should feel. We are not damsels in distress who need rescuing away to the happy part of our lives. We are not little girls who deserve bad treatment, taking abuse because we’ve learned that’s how love feels. Love shouldn’t feel like a castle or a gilded cage. It should feel like the ultimate freedom. And sure, the people you love should push you to be the best version of yourself. But no one completes you. And (yes, I’ve said this before) if you feel like you are clinging to someone extra hard, that is a sure sign that you need to let it go. It’s up to you to sweep yourself away, to the life you want, knowing all the while that you deserve a person who will show up and stay. Not because they are obligated, but because you are just so freakin’ LOVABLE. IRRESISTIBLE. DESERVING.