Wrote a prescription for the perfect man:
made him tall, strong, romantic, dependable,
family oriented; told myself I was ready.
Projected expectations onto the first likely
candidate – single dad, three full-time kids –
read desire in his brooding eyes, ignored
the burden of his grief, the irrational speed
at which we moved, the complications of
blending a family – and jumped in head first.
Dreams shattered before we’d even unpacked –
the impossibility of distinctly different parenting
styles, the lack of logistic in setting boundaries,
the truth about his wife’s hasty departure, Friday
night’s descent into depression that disabled him
and left me in charge of six teenagers and a pup.
Trouble was, I was willing to take responsibility
for the happiness of all, called myself to be a better
partner, a more adventurous lover, a super parent;
believed him when he said he wanted to marry me,
that the bills were being paid, that the kids were safe,
that the ad in the personals wasn’t his – only
it was, and the violence that his values deemed
permissible was endangering the children, and
the only redeemable thing I could do was to flee
and live with the ever-burdening guilt that I had
been weak, and selfish, and so needy as to put
children’s live in jeopardy – an irreversible sin.
Now, haunted by irrepressible self-loathing, I am
mired, scrambling to rise above the pain; offering this
warning for any other woman who is considering
being a solution to his problems, believing herself
to be up for a challenge, hoping for the ideal, but
really selling herself and her children too cheap.