“You Complete Me” – Not

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Freedom .


It’s a Saturday night and I’m in the midst of a Life-Death-and-the-Universe conversation with friends.

I’m curled up on the sofa, bare feet under me. The lights are down low, and a tea light anointed with rose oil burns on the altar with the intent that I might love others for the gold that they are rather than the lead of my expectations.

The subject tonight is—well, there are many subjects tonight, but at the moment that subject is “wholeness.”

“The lack of wholeness,” one friend says, “is a feeling that we cannot be complete without something or someone else. It’s the idea that you can never really be yourself or be accepted for who you are because you’re missing something.”

“I’m not complete without God,” another friend tells us. “If I don’t have Deity in my life, then I’m not whole. Instead, I have a ‘hole’ in my life.”

“Isn’t God a part of you already?” I ask. “Or are you part of God? And in either case, don’t you already have what you need to be complete?”

Before the subject gets deeper, Lisa wades in. “I know I’m not complete without my husband. He and I are a complete person. He makes me whole.”

After a resounding chorus of boos and hisses, she shushes us. “No, really. Like in that Jerry McGuire movie. The line where one character says to another, ‘You complete me.’”

Flying By Night novel

“Okay,” I agree. “That’s very romantic. There’s a beauty to it. That a connection with someone else is so powerful that it would make you feel like a huge gap in your existence has just been filled. I put that kind of thing in my novels because that’s the intensity of emotional connection that people crave when they read romances novels or see a romantic movie. It’s the idea that you’re missing something and if you can be with just one other person who really gets you—preferably one who shares a physical attraction—then that makes everything lovely and fine and you’ve achieved perfection.”

Lisa shrugs. “As long as I marry the right man, my life is perfect.”

“But,” I continue, “then finding someone to make you ‘whole’ is the end, the destination, the finish line. And then what? A joint suicide pact? If that’s the whole purpose of life is to get to this point in a relationship and stop, then shouldn’t everyone die at the moment they achieve true love? Maybe that could be written into our genetic code?”

Before Lisa can accuse me of being a cynic, one of the guys pipes up. “I know what I think of as whole…and not whole. I can’t stand a needy woman. You know, the woman who can’t go to a movie by herself and can’t go shopping by herself and can’t do anything by herself. She doesn’t have any hobbies…except for me.”

“What about me?” I ask. I’m feeling like arguing. I hate it when men assume “female” equals “clingy.” “I’m just the opposite. I don’t feel like I need a man. I don’t particularly want a man just to have a man. But if someone comes along who’s good to me and I feel a certain connection, then maybe I’ll want that man. But if I don’t have a man in my life, does that mean I’m not complete? Not whole? I’m not even looking for anyone right now. Is there something wrong with me that I’m okay by myself?”

Vicki starts laughing. “Being alone has nothing to do with wholeness. And being whole has nothing to do with anyone else at all. It has to do with you being you and you accepting you.”

“But what if you want a man in your life?” Lisa asks. “Particularly if it’s someone you think is special. Is that bad?”

“Having a man in your life does not mean that you’re incomplete without one,” Vicki says. “All it means is that you want to build a life with someone and explore the world together. The more complete you are on your own, the better life you can build with someone else.”

I like the way Vicki says that. It makes sense to me. In regard to my own wholeness, I think I’m in a pretty good place right now. My life is falling into place now—family, friends, work, writing, spirituality.

The one thing that does bother me and shouldn’t—or at least consumes my free time explaining and then not explaining—is that too many people think I should be with someone by now. It’s been over a year, and I no longer grieve for my old life or even for what might have been. But colleagues and acquaintances think a boyfriend is mandatory at this point and I refuse to fill a square for what they might think I need or “deserve.” Some ask me if there’s something wrong with me. Others tell me I must not be “ready” yet and that I’m still in mourning.

It doesn’t have anything to do with being ready either. I think the loneliness we sometimes feel comes from our lack of connection to other human beings. We have a need for touch, more emotional than physical, I think, that’s part of our DNA and keeps us interacting with others.

I don’t care to fill squares for husband, boyfriend, best friend, or soulmate. That would turn my interactions with others into job interviews. But there are people I know and have known whom I would love to spend time with again, people as far back as my college days and as recent as a few months ago.

So the other side of the coin is that there’s not one of them and not even all of them together who can make me complete or whole. That’s my job, not theirs.

But being whole or complete in my own skin doesn’t make me cold or stone or distant or closed off or desirous of isolation.

Being whole simply means that I am, and that I’m okay with who I am.


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