“Ce n’est pas parce que tu es, je t’aime parce que je fais.” – Renaud Séchan
Six years ago, I was in a relationship with someone who had dictatorial skills even Adolf Hitler himself would have envied. He domineered my entire life: how I should dress, who I could hang out with (which naturally consisted of the XX chromosome only), where I could go, and even what I should do. I never saw the inside of a bar or club for two whole years (until I moved to Buffalo and all hell broke loose), I threw out or hid away numerous articles of clothing that he deemed too tight, too short or too low, and I barely hung out with anyone except him. And throughout the two years — when it had become painfully clear after several months into the relationship that I had somehow been yanked out of my body and stuffed most unceremoniously into one he had conjured in his mind — I occasionally had to ask, in the most acerbic tone I could manage, “How did you ever fall in love with me in the first place?”
And his reply, however impertinent it was to the original question, would be, “I thought I could change you, to become a better person, to be the perfect girlfriend. It’s for your own good.”
Skating over the obvious fact that there is no ‘perfect’ anything or anyone, trying to change a person is like trying to rid the world of cockroaches. We scour the surfaces and crevices, pointing out all the areas in which we want them to change, fix, or eliminate altogether, and it becomes a process that never ends, because there will always be something that just isn’t quite the way we want it. This is not to say we ignore the flaws altogether, but surely we have faith in their maturity, in their common sense, and in their own sense of self that they would be able to think for themselves whether or not they should change? Because not to have that faith and confidence in them is tantamount to telling them flat out that they’re just not good enough.
Has it become impossible for people to accept one another for the way they are? Must there always be something that made us fall in love with them in the first place? Granted, we can say we like the way they make us laugh, the way they can pull us out of that emotional hole no matter how deep it is, the way they look at us until we have to turn away, but then there’s so much more to it than that, so much more that we can’t verbalize or put into words at all. So when there’s no laundry list to fall back on, is it really not as simple as, “It’s just you being you”?