You Can’t Live On Potential

I have this friend. I use the term loosely, because a more proper adjective would be, time bomb or loose cannon. But I call him a friend because I’m an optimist, but having him around is almost the same as carrying a grenade in my pocket with a loose pin while running a marathon.  I used to love him. I guess I still do. He falls into the category of men I attract (according to the poet). Institutionalized. He’s also angry. Not all the time, but a lot. We did, what I guess you could consider dating, for a while. A long time ago. Probably not as long as it seems. But we were toxic together. We quickly got to know each other when we met three years ago. Not in a healthy way. More so, in a way where we quickly learned what to do and say to push each other’s buttons. But I fell for him quickly and hard. The way women do when they are being manipulated.  And like I said, I guess I still love him.

I don’t see him like I used to. Not because I don’t want to, but because, too long together for either one of us turns into mental war between the two of us. In small doses, we have a lot of fun together. We laugh together. Most importantly, we sleep well together. Not sex, just sleep.

One of the biggest drawbacks of being single is sleeping alone. Having someone to hold you.  I have this nice long list of men in my life. The platonics, who I don’t sleep with (or have sex), so asking them to come hold me while I’m lonely and vulnerable is out of the question. There was a list of those I could call to get sexed, but that list has since dwindled down to nobody, because I’m too busy and currently too distracted writing to worry about their needs over mine (which I guess is confusing to them since I’m usually very gracious with my time and attention). So I can’t exactly call any of them to fill my need for actual sleep.

But my time bomb. I can always call him. And I’m not being selfish when I say that. It goes both ways. He can always call me and say, “hey, can I come sleep in your bed?” and I always say yes.

It doesn’t matter that when he shows up, he’s usually drunk. Isn’t that when most people are their most truthful selves?

I just leave the door open and he just comes in, locks it behind him, and crawls into the bed. He always puts one arm under my head and he lays on his side and puts his other arm around me and he holds me like he is protecting me from some other time bomb.

And I sleep. And I feel safe. Protected. Loved. All the things that women fantasize that they will feel when they meet “the one,” even though I know it’s all a lie. A figment of my very vivid imagination. A testament to my optimistic nature.

And when he wakes up the next morning and leaves, I want to sleep again the next night and the next. And if I ask, and he says yes, which he always will, and I know this, then this vicious cycle starts in my head.

I start thinking about how much I love him, for no good reason. I start questioning whether he’s the reason I’m not seriously with anyone. I start making excuses for why he’s so fucked up and can’t love me. Even though every time he’s in my bed wrapped around me, he moves my hair out of my face,  kisses my forehead, and tells me that he loves me. That he is in love with me. And every time he does that, I start imagining what our life could have been like together and I start forgetting how toxic we were. How toxic we still are when we are not sleeping.

I start thinking about what a hard worker he is. I start thinking about what a good provider he could be. I start thinking about how handy he is. I start thinking about what I would cook him for dinner every night. I start thinking about doing his laundry. I start thinking about our life together. I start thinking about what a good man he could be… if only he wasn’t him.

And then, of course, when the sun is up or when he does something that is typical of him, like leaving me waiting for him for 45 minutes while he is getting drunk with some other woman, I remember that you can’t live on potential. Potential won’t keep you safe. I remember that you can’t change people to fit who you want them to be. You have to either accept them where they are or not. And if not, you have to walk away. You can’t sit around waiting for the light bulb to go off in their head and for them to all of a sudden realize that you deserve better than what they have ever offered you.

Or at least I know that’s how it is supposed to be.

But I can’t take my own advice. I guess I could. I just don’t.

I don’t sit around waiting for him to change. I’m not putting my life on hold waiting for the day that he decides to be the man he has the potential to be. I don’t expect a different result just because he says he loves me even if it is in a way I don’t understand.

But I won’t walk away. I won’t stop loving him. I won’t NOT be there when he needs me.

I just won’t.

My friends say it’s because my heart is too big. My family would say it’s because I’m stupid. They are both right.

Sometimes I think I love him because someone has to and he tries his hardest to be unlovable and I want to prove him wrong. Other times I think I love him because it doesn’t matter what’s going on, I know that if I needed him, really needed him, he would drop everything to run and help.

So I just keep him in my pocket, a live grenade, because I like the way it feels when he wraps his arms around me. It’s almost like he’s trying to protect me from himself.



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