Reclaiming My HEA is a monthly feature where I share my progress through my separation and divorce. Starting last month, I'm including snippets of a therapy exercise where I imagine myself in a healthy relationship. The purpose is to remind myself of what a supportive, caring partner would be like, to try and offset the effects of over a decade without one.
I was recently asked to list off the names of people that I find attractive. Hmm, thinking about cute guys... what a hardship. Being firmly committed to my psychological recovery, I devoted myself to the task.
|I am nothing if not thorough for my mental health.|
As I compiled my list, two things became very obvious. First: I have a lot of crushes. Second: every one of those crushes are on fictional characters.
In some ways, it's not surprising. Thirsting about fictional characters has none of the potential complications or ickiness of fantasizing about real world people. One knows the inner heart of fictional characters, so there's no danger of discovering that one's crush is actually an asshole. (Unless assholery is what works for you.) Fictional characters are safely remote, never disappointing a person. There's no risk of rejection or any other unpleasant consequence. They're the safest kind of crush there is.
There's another bonus, especially if, like me, the fictional characters also tend to be superheroes. They're also capable of larger than life actions. They have superpowers. They possess superior fighting skills. They are deeply protective, especially when they love someone. They are knights (in shining armor or otherwise) who are always willing to ride to the rescue.
In my fiction, I like a balanced rescuing on all sides. However, I will admit that the idea of being rescued is extremely appealing to me. In reality, I've been exhaustively doing the rescuing for a long time and it would be so refreshing to have someone else to rely on. To not have to be on guard all the time.
The question is: what would I consider a rescue? I don't need someone to snatch the mystical McGuffin or rip apart the fabric of space-time.
What I want is someone to give me a hug when I've had a hard day. Someone who will tell me that they have faith in me and who will offer to help me, whether it's something simple like getting dinner started or more complicated like researching different school choices. Someone who doesn't have to be asked to participate in the household. Someone who wants to help and support me, because that's what people who are in love do for one another.
And, to be honest, that seems more fantastical than a guy who can bench-press a helicopter right now. But I have to believe it's possible.
This month's snippet is my own version of a rescue.
It had been one hell of a day. From the moment I woke up, it seemed I was falling further and further behind. My to-do list kept getting larger and larger and everything seemed to be utterly crucial. As I struggled up to the house with grocery bags, I was so exhausted and overwhelmed that I was ready to cry.
I fumbled with my keys, dropping them into the snow. Great. I put down the heavy bags, wincing at the icy chill on my fingers as I plucked the ring from the fluffy ice crystals. Before I could shove the key into the lock, the front door opened.
"Hey, I thought I heard the car," he said. "Let me give you a hand."
My brain was too tired to come up with anything witty. "I thought you were out of town until the weekend."
He easily hefted three of the overloaded bags, leaving one for me. "I finished up early. I missed you."
"I missed you, too." The words were automatic, though the sentiment was genuine. Or at least it would be once I got enough rest to wake up my benumbed brain and heart. As I stepped into the house, I stopped, unable to believe my eyes.
The toys scattered all over the floor had been tidied up. My stack of library books was gone and a new selection waited in its place. A neat pile of envelopes waited for my perusal. He'd cleaned, gone to the library, and checked the mailbox. My jaw was slack as I stumbled through to the kitchen.
Pasta bubbled on the stove and a pan of tomato sauce simmered on another burner.
He cooked dinner. Tears pricked my eyes.
"Hey, what's wrong?" he asked, concerned.
"Five seconds ago, I was worrying about the kids eating late and having to pay late fines and when I was going to pick up the gift for the birthday party this weekend and my computer broke at work and people kept yelling at me because nothing was working and--"
"Got it." He wrapped his arms around me and planted a kiss on the top of my head. "Bad day."
"Yeah." I sniffled.
"I got you," he whispered in my ear. "You don't have to do it alone any more."