New Castle News

August 20, 2012

Lisa Madras: You’ll never complete me, but I’m open to a complement

Lisa Madras
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Do I complete myself?

There probably isn’t a female alive who’s seen the movie “Jerry Maguire” and doesn’t remember the scene where Jerry tells Dorothy, “You complete me.”

I think the entire female population went moony-eyed and exhaled a collective sigh of pure bliss at exactly the same moment. It was the perfect grown-up conclusion to the steady diet of Disney movies we’d been fed as little girls, and we were all giddy with delight to latch onto the promise of a real-life fairy tale.

Except it wasn’t real life, no matter how good a job Tom Cruise did of turning us to butter. The quote itself was nominated for “AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Movie Quotes.” But it didn’t quite cut the mustard, and I like to think it’s because a lot of someones out there realized it was big load of bull poopie.

I’m a dyed-in-the-wool romantic myself, and while my Disney bent is a little less Cinderella and a little more Esmerelda, I’m still ashamed to admit that I’ve spent my entire life actively pursuing my Prince Charming. After dozens of fairy tales and hundreds of romantic comedies and seedy paperback novels, I was sure that my perfect companion was out there, and once I found him, my life would finally be complete.

Flash-forward to 2012, and zip by a disastrous 15-year marriage, and an equally doomed three-year relationship, (and even a failed attempt at dating someone new just last week), and here I am at the age of 39, wondering what the heck I have to do to find this magical mystery man. I jump immediately from one relationship into another, never missing an opportunity to find “the one” — and never taking the time to analyze why the last one didn’t work.

Then I have the audacity to be broken-hearted when the next amorous alliance crashes and burns in a fiery, jumbled mess of unmet expectations and wounded feelings.

The funny thing is, throughout all those fiery crashes, while everything else is destroyed, the baggage always seems to make it through intact.  Finally, a life lesson drills itself through my thick skull: The baggage compartment is obviously the safest place to travel — at least for now.

Because it’s only there, in the dark and scary part of myself, that I’ll be able to sift through the fractions of me and discover what it is that makes me truly incomplete. I sit here now, once again nursing wounds. But this time, I’m not looking around for someone else to rush to my rescue. I’m not actively seeking another man to lose myself in, to help me bury my baggage, and certainly not to complete me.

When you feel incomplete and you look to someone else to complete you, you’re pretty much guaranteed to end up sitting amongst the rubble again at some point in time. We find ourselves months or years down the road, still feeling unfulfilled, and blaming our partner. So we move on to the next person (a BETTER person, we tell ourselves), and watch it all crash and burn once again.

We repeat this cycle over and over again until we finally admit that we are solely responsible for our own fulfillment. Only then will we be ready to meet someone who COMPLEMENTS us — not someone who offers us a false sense of completion, and certainly not someone who looks to us for their completion, either.

My plan for at least the next year, as arduous and painstaking a task as it is, is to sift through the baggage and ultimately become whole again. I have to come out on the other side of this and be able to say, “I complete me.”

So as hard as it is to politely decline the dinner invitations and offers of potentially new and exciting relationships, this girl has to quietly and demurely fade into the background for a while. I’ve got a really important relationship to work on right now.

Hopefully, in about a year or so, I’ll be ready to move from the baggage compartment back up to first class, and even if I spend the rest of my life flying solo, I’ll be doing it with the style that only self-confidence and emotional health can bring. And I’ll be better than OK than with that, because I’ll be complete, and I won’t be checking out the guy in the next seat to see if he has Prince Charming potential.

On a side note to the guy who just might be sitting in that seat next to me a year from now: Don’t even bother asking me to try on a glass slipper. (If you really loved Cinderella, I think you’d remember what she looked like anyhow. Gheesh.) But if you want to compliment me on my sensible yet stylish Vera Wang shoes, I’ll take that.

And who knows? I might even be complete enough to compliment you right back.