Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Fixing A Wounded Heart: The Electrician Tries to Repair My Faulty Wiring

“I hope that one day I can make you believe just how wonderful you really are.”

Believe it or not, my mom wasn’t the one saying those words to me. It was a man. A man from my past who loved me six years ago and who was standing before me now, just as smitten.

It was a man who is gentle and kind, honest and faithful. A man as open as the Grand Canyon who doesn’t say words he doesn’t mean.

“You are so sexy,” he tells me as he kisses my neck. “Do you have any idea how sexy you are?”

No, actually, I don’t. I only know how NOT sexy I am.

To me, the idea of being desired seems impossible.

I spent the last four years of my 20s steeped in a deeply dysfunctional and empty relationship. I was with a man who never paid me a compliment and barely desired me. I was never sure what, exactly, he liked about me, but I think he viewed me as that of a best friend. Hang out, eat dinner, go to movies, never have sex. Yep. That’s pretty much what I do with my best friends.

But it’s not what I wanted to do with a boyfriend. Still, I stuck around hoping he’d come around. But he never did. As a result, I fell deeper into myself, feeling more unworthy with each passing day. You can imagine what that does to a person. It’s probably similar to a dog that gets beaten by its owner. Like humans, dogs are never born thinking anyone would want to hurt them.

But slowly, as that hurt is inflicted on them, they withdraw into themselves. Soon, when their owner comes near, they flinch instinctively. They cower in fear. It’s never a question of if, but only a question of when. Some days their owner pets them and feeds them treats. “Maybe he’s changed,” they think. “He wants to love me now.”

But before they can even wag their tail, they get kicked again.

Even years after they escaped and found a loving family, they can’t shake the feelings of fear and inadequacy that filled their life for so long. It never goes away. So even when their new owners love them all the time and wouldn’t dare hurt them, inside, they’re too wounded to believe this love is real.

I guess I was like a beaten dog. I stopped believing there was anything good about me. I was empty. I didn’t believe a man could ever really want me. For me, it was only a matter of when. When the next one would decide I was worthless.

But instead, this one was telling me how great I was. How sexy and wonderful and beautiful and funny I am. And the crazy part is, I know he meant every word.

“How could any man ever not desire you?” he’d ask. “I have a good mind to beat him up.”

Secretly, I wished he would. I wished someone would hurt him like he hurt me. But I know I need to let that go. It’s time to heal from the past. And this man who wanted me all those years ago and still wants me now might just be the key to helping me do that.

He’s an electrician, after all. He is an expert at fixing broken things.

“How good are you with hearts?” I ask him.

“Mine’s broken, too,” he says. “I know what to look for.”

He looks me square in the eyes and brushes the hair from my face.

“It’s his fault for not seeing all that you are,” he says. “Not yours.”

I think about what he says. It’s been difficult, but I realize now, after comparing these two dramatically different men, that it never really was about me. I spent so many years thinking I wasn’t enough. Not pretty enough. Not sexy enough. Not good enough to make him love me.

Now I’m starting to realize he was the one lacking. He wasn’t smart enough to see how cool I am. I mean, I think I’m cool. The Electrician definitely thinks so.

He’s been working on me for days and I can feel a tiny current coursing through my body. It’s not time to turn the switch back on, but I know there’s a spark inside of me that wasn’t there before.

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