Posted by: Shell | October 18, 2013

The Messiah Complex


Nothing makes one more aware of their shortcomings than entering the dating world again.  In my case, it’s been 25 years.  A lot has changed.  We text to our prospective partners, 140 characters or less is the new pick up line, and it’s not uncommon to date online before you ever hold hands in real life.

That’s not to say that I’m new to technology.  Indeed, I’ve been a geek most of my life.  Just ask my Doctor Who lunchbox.

2013-08-28 14.49.53-3

Apart from the short-banged, nerd glasses laden look, I pretty much embrace my geekiness.  (Just can’t do the nerdy glasses and short bangs.  Girls?  WTF?)

Jumping back into the dating game was easy for me because I went with what I knew.  No really.  What I knew.  What. I. Already. Knew.   In other words, I fell back in love with my high school sweetheart.  My first true love.

Yes, it was online.  Yes, it was through texts.  Yes, we said I love you over the phone before we ever reconnected in real life.  We both had more grey, more wrinkles, and a lot more experience than the last time we locked gazes.

Did I mention I brought something else to the relationship?  Four children.  That’s me 4 – him nothing.

Now I know I’m not the first woman to find a guy that was totally cool with a ready made family.  Crime shows are full of them.  (Yes, I went there.)  And this fiercely protective mama bear was skeptical.

Why would anyone want to raise someone else’s children?  He’s into me stretch marks and all?  Those extra baby pounds meant nothing? (With full disclosure that my baby is 7.)

Could it be possible?  Could I have struck gold?

A man who admitted he was ready for a family but did not in any way shape or form want to go the diaper route.  Hey, I totally understand.  I didn’t dig the diaper thing either.  Nor the sleepless nights.  Come to think of it, this was probably the ideal thing for a guy.  Let the mom do all the rearing and then come in to be the ultimate play mate.  That’s a gig most guys could get behind I’m sure.  I wish I had thought of it myself.

But it was more than that.  He actually wanted to be a father and have a family.  He actually did the soul searching and the self awareness checks to know what he felt had been lacking.

He shared with me his eight year stint as a monk.  (Not literally)  He explained to me that something within him came alive when we reconnected.  Naturally, I melted.

Now I ask you, what woman does not want to hear those things?

I am his rock.  He is my heart.

“I’ll take you, stretch marks and extra poundage and all and I’ll be happily taking on your four children.”  He never actually said that.  I heard it in my head, though.

I was in heaven.  I was already back in love with him for the same reasons I fell in love with him the first time.  He’s kind, compassionate, introspective, wickedly smart, and very intentional in his actions.  He is a man of his word with the heart of a poet. (In a jar under the bed.  It’s kind of creepy.)

A year later with him and we are engaged.  The children adore him.  It was seamless.  Flawless, really.

Well, flawless except for one hitch.  I can’t figure out what I’ve done to deserve him.  I feel woefully inadequate and like I’ve gotten the better end of the deal.

I feel like the little drummer boy.  Kings bringing riches of gold, frankincense, and myrrh but all I have is this drum AND I can’t even play the damned thing.


My insecurities are brutal.  They make me question everything I do.

I go from one relationship where I feel I’m the only one with a head on straight to a really all together guy.  A guy with a financial plan and bills that are completely current.  A guy that makes a point of having a weekly date night.  A guy that woos me like I am a goddess (I’d argue more of a Willendorf than on the half shell.)

I see him as perfection personified.

C’mon, now.  I’m not 16 and seeing the world through rose-colored glasses.  I am the queen of skepticism and cynicism.  But that’s what makes it worse.  I see myself through those eyes too.

The guy with the piercing brown eyes.  (If Antonio Banderas and James Mason had a bastard love child… it’d be him.)  The guy with the perfect jawline.  Lips that would make you swoon (He gets that from his James Mason side.)  And a physique… well, he gets that from his Antonio Banderas side.


                                                                  Antonio Banderas


                                                                     James Mason

The selflessness and willingness to be and do everything for and to me is more than I can wrap my mind around.

Have I let my past relationships jaded me so much?  Have I let them define who I am without any say or contradiction?

Typically, a Messiah Complex is a narcissistic need to be the savior in relationships but this is different.  I fully acknowledge and realize that I’ve made him out to be my Messiah.  I have, by subconscious choice, created an entity that I can worship but never be good enough for.  I have created a barrier that he, no matter how omnipotent, can never break down unless I do it.

I think to myself, “Do I have the trumpets within that will destroy this wall?  Joshua himself couldn’t bring down this wall I’ve created.”


As someone who hates sycophantic behavior, I have suddenly found myself guilty.

I could insert all kinds of psycho-babble here.  Insecurities brought on by my childhood… abusive relationships… neglectful relationships… It doesn’t matter the cause.  What matters is that I’ve manifested this barrier and created a relationship where I bathe his feet in tears and wipe them with my hair.  (Although usually I’m bathing his shirt in my tears and wiping them with my fingertips.)

He’s desperate to be closer and I’m desperate for him to be.  This “Church of the Nakama” can rival any Catholic or Jewish guilt.  (“Nakama” is my pet name for him.) I feel guilty he’s picking up the pieces of who I am… or rather, who I used to be.  I feel guilty that someone is taking care of me.  I feel guilty that another man has had to step up to be father to my children.

Nakama” (仲間 Nakama?) is a Japanese word that directly translates to friend, comrade, and under some context such as One Piece, crewmate. Many fans of the series believe the word means “people who are considered closer than family”, though that is not a part of the official dictionary definition of the word.

Through my tears and quiet sobs, he tells me that he wants to make me happy.  I softly reply that no one can make me feel any way but myself.  I’m responsible for my own feelings.  He kisses my shoulder and tells me he doesn’t see it as a responsibility.  He sees it as something he wants to do.

And slowly, the walls came a-tumbling down.




  1. This may seem trivial in the context of everything you’ve said, but hooray for the One Piece reference! The interpretation of the term “nakama” by American fans of the show is absolutely correct. Why? Because that is *exactly* how it is used in the original Japanese.
    (Tying it in). One’s “nakama” are one’s “crew”; one’s “peeps”. You’re *closer* than family—because you’ve *chosen* each other (warts and all) with pure intentionality (this is a near–constant theme in Japanese manga and anime; particularly those for boys). You would literally do anything for each other—even stop a bullet. One could cynically say “well, that just means that the social group is more important than one’s actual family”, but the real message here is about *choice*.
    “Nakama” is about love in its strongest, most perfect form.
    Once you choose each other—that’s it. You can’t be separated. Betrayal is impossible. Christ understood that *only* Judas, who loved him more perfectly than any other, could shoulder the pain of “betrayal”. Judas’ act was the equivalent of “pulling the plug”, a terrible but necessary thing for both.
    The LDS Church uses the term “agency”. I like it. One is the agent in charge of one’s life. Choose who you want to be, and share that person with whom you choose.

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