A Better Man

February 16, 2010

I’m sure you know the scene, when Jack Nicholson says to Helen Hunt, “You make me want to be a better man.” That scene used to play out a lot in my head. Bobby never said those words instead he was making changes.

These were not changes I asked for or insisted on. I accepted him as he was, loved him for the person he was. But there were activities in his life I couldn’t, wouldn’t participate in. Not illegal activities, but things that went against my own moral code. And they prevented us from having a forever. Vague, I know, sorry. How about an example?

Porn. Perfectly legal activity. I deplore it. It cheapens something that should be beautiful when shared between two people in love. I find it disgusting that a man would get turned on by another woman and then turn to me to satisfy his primal urges. Several times early on Bobby asked me to watch it with him, I refused, flat, no room for discussion. I knew it was something he still looked at but never when I was around.

Then several weeks ago he told me he had gotten rid of his stash. The shelf of his closet was cleaned off, completely. Just gone.

There were several things like that. I never asked. I never nagged. I never gave ultimatums. He just made the little changes.

He is a bad boy. And every woman thinks she is going to change her bad boy. Every woman thinks that she is going to be the reason he goes straight. I think he tried. I think he looked at me, and my girls and saw a future. He saw a woman who would be there through the good times and bad. He saw a woman who would take care of him and he wanted to take care of me. He loved my girls, took them to get ice cream, bought them special treats, got them off the school bus. He could see the family he wanted so desperately.

All this year I have seen his promise. I have watched him stumble, fall off the cliff and then pull himself back up. I have watched him struggle and then suceed. I have listened to him talk about his hopes and dreams and marveled at how well they matched mine. And my heart soared when it seemed our lives were finally on the same path.

Then he got drunk and he said some things he’ll never be able to take back. All the little questions I had in the back of my mind answered, in the harshest of fashions. The things he said didn’t just break my heart, they shattered it. Finally, when I could actually find words, what I said was, “You stupid, self destructive man.” And the reality that this leopard could not change his spots finally was beginning to sink in.

His response, “I told you I was a bad guy.” My mind replays those words he threw at me as if they were an excuse, moments before I drove away. When he could no longer look me in the eye. He’s right. I knew he was a bad boy. I knew it but I fell for him anyway.

So lately I’ve been asking myself if I should have done things differently. If I should have held back. Am I to blame for my own broken heart? Maybe, partly. I knew better than to trust a bad boy with my heart.

But to be honest with you. If I had it to do it all over again, I’d still try. There are things along the way I might do differently. But I would still trust until it was broken. I’d still believe him to be good until he proved otherwise. That’s what makes me, me.

I make no apologies for seeing the best in him and believing he can be a better man. I also make no apologies for being the forever kind of girl. But what I know now is that we do not have a forever. And that’s okay. Because right now, when I imagine my life in a year, he isn’t in it. If only I could get him out of next week.


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