By: MaDonna Awotwi
One of my favorite quotes is a complete allegory for my love life: “Leave people better than you found them.”
As I type this I’m packing the remnants of yet another failed relationship into a bin that will leave my home. Over the past four years, I’ve been an Airbnb for the broken, if you could call it that. I attract fixer-uppers. I’ve always been attracted to potential. I’ve been in 2.5 what you could call serious relationships in the past five years and each has ended the same. I love a project. And if I have to be really raw and honest with myself, I can take anything I touch and make it better. So I think that in seeing the potential in a man who may be a little rough around the edges, may need help with his million-dollar idea, or may just need some encouragement, I think I can “fix him” and, in turn, he’ll be so eternally grateful for my love and kindness he’ll reward me with marriage. Because that’s been my end goal since I was a child.
It’s been a 38-year race to the altar and nearly everyone in my family has beaten me there; some twice. I’ve been in a constant state of grief since losing my 13-year-old son in 2014. I felt like I’ve lost so much the least God could do is give me a husband, allow the rest of my life to start, give me something to make up for the pain that eats away at me almost daily. I’m different now because of this loss. I had an overwhelming need to fill this hole in my heart. The Bible says God will never take anything away without replacing it with something amazing, so I’m essentially tapping my foot waiting for God to drop my husband in my face. So much so that I’ve gladly taken matters into my own hands over the past four to five years.
I met and fell in love with a man who I knew didn’t believe in marriage within the first few minutes of our conversation. A man who I knew was a distraction from my purpose and gifting the entire time I was with him. Yet what did I do? I poured all of myself into him, trying to make him into the husband I wanted, even though he had no desire to be one. I cried, I prayed, and I stayed until a light bulb came on and I stepped away, only after some things happened that you would probably see in a lifetime movie. If I’m being honest, the relationship was a way for me to process my grief. I met the man six months after my son’s death. In my mind, If I could fix him, turn him into something better, be a mother for his children who didn’t have a mother then I was accomplishing something. Enter my ex (the .5 in the 2.5 relationships I mentioned) who was a broken, traumatized, gas lighter. He had an expectation that not only was I going to save his business, I was going to save him, fill him up, and help repair whatever is malfunctioning in his soul. This was a man I loved through 10 years of toxic back and forth dealings, of trauma bonding, and holding my breath because I believed this situation was going to turn out with a happy ending despite all of the red flags. Despite the fact that he was married and trying to use me as the reason to leave his unhappy situation, but I digress. The bottom line is I was barely replenished from my own suffering, yet there I was pouring and pouring and pouring. Exhausted, stressed out, and wondering when someone was going to give me my prize: love.
That situated lasted about five months before a friend of mine who was so wounded over his last relationship, so broken he was bleeding on anyone who came in his direction. We talked daily. I encouraged him and, somewhere along the line, friendship became confused with affection and we found ourselves being more than just friends. He had these beautiful God-sized dreams. I figured my love could be a band-aid and that would show everyone about my special power. Look, at me. I can take anything and anyone and make them better. We made an amazing team. I convinced myself that if I kept pouring into him, showing him real support, building his business and building his confidence that it would be worth it in the end. I can manifest any and everything that I desire I told myself. Then the reality check came.
It was clear after month three that my friend’s head was in it but his heart wasn’t. I should’ve let go right then and there. He was still in love with his ex and it was a complete and utter torment to continue to stay in a relationship with someone who was unhealed and had a lot of self-work to do. Instead, I felt like if I pushed more, poured more, did more he would recognize and somehow miraculously redirect his love in my direction. I didn’t want anyone to think I couldn’t make it work. I didn’t want anyone to think this was a failure — that I was a failure. After all, aren’t we taught that a mediocre marriage is better than nothing? Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great guy, very well-intentioned, kind, well-meaning, and can cook his ass off, but he couldn’t be who I needed. I knew that and I stayed anyway.
Maybe it’s not that I attract broken men, but more so that I’m a glutton for punishment. So here I am making the decision to release this broken bird back into the world. Like my favorite mantra, he’s better than when I first encountered him; however, I must now start the process of healing again, of breaking this energy, of seeing the stop sign and deciding not to run it. To make a conscious decision to not pour my magic out without saving any for myself. If I’m light and we are all called to be the light, of course, people will be drawn to me, but I must use my discernment and stick to what I know to be true. Grief therapy should help with that. I will take time for me. I will raise my vibration. I will repeat to myself the next time a broken man approaches me: Fixer-uppers are for houses.