“He thought that every windmill was a giant. That’s insane. But, thinking that they might be… Well, all the best minds used to think the world was flat. But, what if it isn’t? It might be round.”
–They Might Be Giants, lead character commenting on Don Quixote
Miguel de Cervantes in his great classic Don Quixote celebrates the individual, and the unique vision that can see beyond the limitations of this material world.
We get the phrase “tilting at windmills” (pointlessly assailing imagined foes) from the scene where Don Quixote – an elderly gentleman who believes he has become a knight – mistakes certain windmills for giants.
On the page, this is laudatory. We are elevated by the call to idealism. But in practice – especially where love and romance are concerned – this approach has serious flaws. In fact, it can be downright dangerous for abuse victims.
Fixing Mr. Right
We meet someone. We like his appearance or his sense of humor . Whatever the attraction, whether he is a loner or the center of attention, we find ourselves drawn to him. At long last, we have found Mr. Right.
We may, on some level, notice in the early stages of romance that there are problems in store. But we dismiss those. So he drinks a little. OK, more than a little. We tell ourselves he has his reasons. We are sure we can “fix” him.
In reality, the problems may be precisely what we find appealing. Reminiscent of problems in our family of origin, they feel “familiar” – as if we had met this man before. We convince ourselves that fate has selected him for us.
We determine to defend him against the world.
What women often see in their beloved is the man he might be. We fall so deeply in love with that man the thought of leaving him, of abandoning our dreams (especially dreams in which we have invested precious years of our lives), is unbearable.
We tell ourselves he will change. He tells us he wants to change. But he takes no steps in that direction. And the problems only get worse.
If only, he didn’t drink. If only, he didn’t cheat on us. If only, he didn’t gamble. If only, he didn’t use meth. If only, he could keep a job. If only, he didn’t hit us. Then he’d be perfect.
They Might Be Giants
“There were giants on the earth in those days…” (Gen. 6: 4).
They might be giants, these abusive and addicted men we love. But they are not. They might be heroes, we argue. But they are not. Our pain is living proof of that.
We believe the depth of our pain reflects the depth of our love. That our relationship gives life meaning.
But love is not intended to be painful – certainly not painful as the result of abuse by our beloved (or his own self-abuse). Our lives had meaning in God’s eyes before the relationship began. They will have meaning even after it ends.
We can tell ourselves that these men were hurt as children; that they have been mistreated by the world; that they are misunderstood. We can tell ourselves that, deep down, they love us; that we deserve the lies, the cheating, the beatings, and so on.
They may have been hurt as children. So, of course, were we. All the rest is untrue. None of it is an excuse for abuse. Until we realize that – and recognize Mr. Wrong for who he is – we will go on tilting at windmills.
 This post could easily be redirected to men who suffer from the abuse and/or addiction of the women they love.
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