Men, I Am Not Your Life Raft

titanic 4

Dealing with a man I’ve been seeing for nearly a year (a long distance friends with benefits relationship, to be exact), I’ve learned something vitally important about myself and the men I attract.

Hi, my name is Twyla and I attract damaged, broken men with a U-Haul’s worth of baggage. And I let them in because I like to fix people.

I have a healing and nurturing spirit and I recognize wounded people, and I always want to help them. Unfortunately for me, these people (men in particular), like to suck the life force out of me in the process.

My first love was a troubled child. We’ll call him Chuck. We met in college. Well, I was in college. Chuck was pretending he was in college. His father didn’t want anything to do with him and his mother had remarried and had two other boys. So Chuck felt left out. He rebelled and became a problem child. His mom, fed up, kicked him out. He came down to SIU, I believe, in the hopes of going to college. He ended up living in a homeless shelter. They let him live there rent free and paid him small wages in exchange for working there. This is when I met him.

He was attractive and seemed at least relatively sweet. But what I didn’t realize at the time was that he was looking for someone, anyone to love him. To show him that he mattered. I have no problem being that person but don’t shit on me in the process.

Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t that terrible to me at first. Chuck cooked for me, bought me nice things when he could afford it (illegally at times, I realized later), and he was very romantic. But in the end, he ended up stealing from me to get cash and then broke up with me when I pressed him about it.

He told me years later, that after hitting rock bottom, he got his life together and started a business that began with me (I had a Mac computer he loved and learned how to use and started a company that taught people how to use them), got married and had kids, and then eventually got some really good paying job at a great company.

The next guy I loved, we shall call him Dwight, was damaged physically and emotionally. He had a pronounced limp from a terrible mishap when he was a teen, and a hole in his throat with a gravelly voice to go along with it from needing a tracheotomy when he was born prematurely. He was also broken from a recent breakup.

I fell for the bait. Hook, line, and sinker. I picked him like a damn stray roaming around the street. And he walked all over me for 5 years. Of course, I let him for various reasons, but mainly because I was in love with his potential, not the actual man.

After I broke up with Dwight and moved across the country to get away from our toxic back and forth relationship (the best decision I ever made. There’s nothing wrong with running sometimes), leaving my dog and half of my belongings, he found someone and proposed to her after about a year. And he used my dog to propose. Yet he strung me along for 5 years with the promise of marriage.

With these first two guys, I was a total lid loosener. I read somewhere once that there are two kinds of women. Lid looseners, those who loosen the lid. And lid openers, those who come along after the loosener and pops the lid right open. Basically, the women to heal the man, making him better for the next woman who doesn’t have to do jack but enjoy the man he now is.

Now, this new guy that we will call Mark, is having troubles with an ex. I can’t give details in case either party sees this post, but let’s just say it’s not pretty. He wants to move to a new place, but can’t really afford it. He asked me to move back to California to move in with him, but I refused. Mark’s not ready. He’s still broken from his relationship and wants to use me as his therapist. His life raft to keep him afloat.

When I refused to bend to his will, he decided to go on a date with another woman while he was on a work trip in another country. He proceeded to tell me about it. This I actually don’t care that much about because we’re not in a serious relationship. But he told me in one breath that he missed her and in the next, he asked to see me so I can make him feel better. Of course, I snapped. But my epiphany also hit me like a ton of bricks.

I’m a magnet for wounded and broken men. And I am so grateful to him for helping me realize this. Of course, the minute I did, I was so turned off by him that it was a damn relief. I have a healing and nurturing spirit, but that doesn’t mean I’m here to be shit on or pulled down into the abyss with you. I’m not loosening one more damn lid for anyone else!

Men (and women for that matter), please fix your own shit before you move on to the next person. It is not your next lover, girlfriend/boyfriend, or spouse’s job to fix your damaged behind. Stay single until you figure your shit out.

While learning this about myself and those that I attract, I realized that there are two types of men. I’m going to use the movie Titanic as an analogy to preface my point. After the ship finally sank, Rose and Jack first found themselves in the fridged water and everyone was splashing around frantically. The one guy, in a panic to save his own life used Rose as a life raft. He pushed her under the water in order to try to stay afloat. Meanwhile, Jack was searching for her in the water and when he found her, smashed that dudes face in and then proceeded to let Rose get on the wooden door while he froze to death in the water. There will be that guy who will bring all of his issues and baggage to throw onto you in the hopes of saving himself while he saps you of your energy and drowns you. And then you’ll have that guy who will uplift you, who will try to save you above all else. Even him.

Now, I personally think Jack should’ve found a way to get on the door to save them both. That would be a third type of man. The type of man I want. The man who won’t drag me down, but also won’t let me walk all over him. The man who is strong and capable, with minimal and/or controlled baggage (because let’s get real, at this age [38], any man I meet is going to have some kind of baggage just like I do). Someone who will uplift me when I need it and who let me uplift him when he needs it.

In a word… Equal.

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