Note: The "Trooper" in question is not actually in the military. It's a metaphor, people.

February 4, 2008

Weighing Him Down?

I've worked very hard over the years to rid myself of my innate pessimism. Since I was a kid, I walked around with a deep-rooted belief that I was "cursed"; that good things happened to everyone else but me. This of course came out during therapy and, for the most part, I've addressed that ridiculous belief and put it to rest. Now, if I get good feedback on a work project or a school assignment, I don't make excuses for my success like, "They didn’t really get a chance to look it over thoroughly." Instead I actually have the audacity to say, "I worked hard, did an excellent job and was recognized for it. Cool!"

When it comes to my relationships, I'm better too, though far from cured. I don't suspect I ever will be cured entirely (who is?), but I've come far enough that I can allow myself to meet a quality man, fall in love with him, let him fall in love with me, and hope for a wonderful future.

There is, however, one area where my "cursed" belief still lingers. I'd be happy to get rid of it, but so far it just keeps proving itself to me. What is it? It's going to sound stupid to you, but here goes: When a man enters into a relationship with me, he begins to experience a "down" period - a rut - where he is unhappy in work, his appearance, his place in the world. Our time together may be good overall, but a lot of it consists of me helping him through these feelings. Sometimes I even convince them to go to a shrink. Then we break up, usually mutually, and we both move on. Except he usually moves on to a new period of happiness, enlightenment, and peace that I helped him find. Nice, huh?

I'm not exaggerating. This has happened to me enough times that I'm starting to think that either a) I am a weight that brings men down or b) I was put on this Earth to help men better themselves for the benefit of everyone but me.

Want examples? Here are just a few:
1) Dawson - I met him through J-Date after my first breakup with Only Child. He lived in LA (I was in SD) and was successful in the entertainment biz (yes, he worked on Dawson's Creek) and was pretty cute, smart, funny/neurotic in a Woody Allen sort of way, owned a house in Westwood, and was into me. We had a few terrific dates and makeout sessions and, as is typical with me, started delving into deep conversation. During one of these talks, which turned out to be our last, his far-too realistic Woody Allen side came out when he confessed the unbelievable depth of his neuroses and dysfunctionality in relationships.It was hard for him to talk about and I was supportive and offered advice that eventually led him to begin seeing a therapist. I heard from him via email one more time and he thanked me profusely for my help and wished that we might meet again in the future when he's "better." nice of me. Single again.

2) SoHo Chic - OK, he wasn't my boyfriend, but he was definitely the first man I had a psychological relationship with (including my Dad since he died when I was 5 and I barely remember him). He was my boss in the first job I took out of college. He was a professional commercial photographer and I was hired to run the daily operations of his immaculately decorated studio located in the middle of, you guess it, SoHo. SoHoChic was European, young, cocky, wealthy and one of the cheapest people I've ever met. Being completely naive, I took the job without realizing just how little money $19K/year was (with no health insurance either). I was just excited that this cool, successful photographer wanted me to run his business!

Of course, in hindsight, it's so obvious why he wanted me. I was inexperienced and dumb enough to accept the pittance of an offer, but smart enough to figure the job out on my own without doing too much damage. I worked there for a year and a half and I can assure you, if you called him up today (if you can get him on the phone now that he is tremendously successful and busy again), he will agree that those 18 months were the worst of his life, both professionally and personally. The jobs that used to roll in based upon his artsy still life work were drying up in favor of human subjects, his effort to move into filmmaking was turning into a big flop, and the sizeable loan from his dad was coming due. Personally, his psycho, starf*cker girlfriend was making his life miserable, especially since she knew he was cheating on her (she would call me at the office begging for me to tell her who he was cheating with). He eventually proposed to her, only to call it off a short time later. I was put in charge of telling everyone that the wedding was off and cancelling all the reservations. Nice.

I eventually quit and gave up on NYC entirely. He hired a much more qualified (and higher paid) replacement who was far less naive than me. She quit after two months of his crap. By then I had figured things out, so when he called me in California begging me to come back until he found another sucker, I agreed, but only for a ridiculous amount of money and paid airfare. As sweet as that was (I earned enough money from that to buy my car and move to LA), about one year later I called to say hi and was informed that not only did he successfully transition to fashion photography and was as busy as ever, but he had met the woman of his dreams, married her, and had a kid on the way. He was jovial, shockingly humble and even somewhat apologetic for the nightmare year and a half I endured with him when he had clearly "lost his way." So glad I could help.

I'd like to believe I'm not a weight that drags people down, so I'm going to have to choose the latter option -- that I'm put here to help them. Actually, it's probably more that I tend to find myself attracted to people who show vulnerability and need help. I guess I'm a "fixer." That sucks because sometimes I like to be fixed too.

Why bring this up? Well, without going into too much about WG's personal life, he's been feeling a bit down, on and off these last few months. It's hard when someone you think of as incredible, wonderful, handsome, smart, and inspiring doesn't see these qualities in themselves. You can't convince them otherwise. All I can offer is advice and solutions. And I don't think he wants either of those things right now.

Then I remember what he was like when I first met him. I know, I know...he was putting on his finest performance to impress a new girl. But still, he seemed much more inspired by life, work, fitness, books, etc. than he seems to be now. Everyone is allowed down time. God knows I have it all the time. But I can't help but look back at my pattern and think, "Is it me? Could WG be better without me?" I'd like to think the answer is "No" and keep reminding myself that this is just my bullsh*t childhood "curse" trying to rear its ugly head again. I guess it's time I stop believeing in curses, huh?



mimi of sexagenarian and the city said...

but dt, _everyone_ has down times, and if you go with a guy long enough, sooner or later you'll see him when he's down. stay with him even longer, and you'll see him feeling 'up' again.

and think how much _less_ happy he'd be if hadn't met you!

Michele said...

Let me try to remember dating ... let's see, everyone puts on a good show at first. We are not totally being themselves because we all believe that no one will actually like us for us so we have to act better than the real us. Then we get to no someone and let it all hang out ... the good, the bad and the ugly. Honestly, I don't think it has anything to do with you, except maybe that you are a good listener and a genuine person who they feel like they can share everything thing with ... even the awful stuff. And let's face it, we all like to talk about the awful stuff more than the happy stuff. I'm not sure why but we do. In reality, I actually think it's a compliment to you. They feel comfortable enough with you to share their darkest moments and that's pretty impressive. It's hard to find anyone you trust that much. maybe all the guys previous to WG were just as much a learning experience for you as you were for them. Now figuring out the lesson you needed to learn, that's the hard part. My hubbie and I have been going through an awful time for the last 8 months trying to sell a condo while we're living in a house ... paying two mortgages. But for two years before the bad 8 months, we were so happy and doing so well. Things will get back on track. They always do. Sorry for the long comment but I don't want you to beat yourself up or blame yourself. We all have bad times. Just be happy that WG trusts you enough to share it all with you. I think you guys will be fine.

Dating Trooper - Dating is Warfare said...

Thanks Mimi and Michele - great insights and advice. Much appreciated and helpful! As you can see from today's entry, I'm feeling much more positive than when I wrote this entry!

Melissa said...

No, you're not a "weight"! Good heavens. But here's a thought that has occurred to me before about myself: sometimes I think my own difficulty at being happy sometimes rubs off on those closest to me. Perhaps they feel that if they were better friends, then I would be better. Does that make sense? Are you not wondering the very same thing about yourself in relationship to WG? You're wondering what's wrong with YOU because HE'S down. I sometimes think the inverse is true, too.

Not that I believe we should "fake" happiness in order to make our loved ones feel like they're doing a good job. But I definitely feel like genuinely working towards our own genuine happiness will affect everyone we come into contact with.

I guess that's what people mean by we have to love ourselves first.

I'm glad you're feeling better!