This month marked the 20th anniversary of Jerry Maguire. (For me, it also marked the 20th anniversary of my 20th birthday). It’s hard to believe it’s been twenty years since Tom Cruise first uttered those three words that had women in theaters across America gushing: "You complete me". I must confess his delivery was so fierce, how would someone not believe or want to believe it to be true? However, a husband, two kids, thirteen Romance books and twenty years later, I’ve come to understand the fallacy of those words and how they represent part of a patriarchal system that forces us to sublimate the very essence of who we are, ostensibly in order to coexist with one another.
Those three words, “You complete me,” are a fallacy of the patriarchy that stifles our ability to become self-actualized beings. The truth is that our real power resides within each of us.
As humans, we are uniquely capable of complete emotional and physical autonomy, and yet, many of us never realize it because the notion of dependency—whether on another or on government—has become so ingrained in us that we sacrifice our personal power to the other and to the collective. We give up this power to the patriarchal system and the hierarchical structures that reside within it, from religious institutions to corporations, seemingly in exchange for the assurance of our survival.
Jerry Maguire, like so many Hollywood narratives and so many of the prevailing stories in the Romance genre, foster the notion that we ourselves—we alone—are not enough and that we need someone to complete us. They reinforce those seeds of self-doubt within us, the fear of not being enough, and blind us to the fact that what we really need is not someone else to make us whole but to own our own power as individuals. And rather than confront our doubts and fears, which can be both humbling and painful, we cling to these stories and the corresponding beliefs that somehow make us feel comfort or comfortable and result in limiting us and our potential.
In fact, patriarchy is an expression of power in its ego form. Power in this form is perceived as political, as wealth and as celebrity, which like any exclusive club can only belong to a select few against whom the rest of us measure ourselves. And in this construct, we, as individuals, come to surrender to some purported higher power. But the reality is that no one is greater than us individually. NO ONE.
Not a single being is greater than we are because we are all the SAME. Our differences on the outside do not erase the fact that underneath it all, under that thin layer of skin, we are truly the same human beings. At our very core, we are perfect, complete, whole and infinite.
Only we have the ability to change our own reality, the power to take responsibility for ourselves and in that to exercise our own personal power, enabling us to step into our greatest selves with the knowledge and belief that we can do anything we set our minds to.
That is the core of our being, the most perfect and god-like because it's our creative power. To own that power will enable us to free ourselves of the patriarchal system that promises to take care of us because we will know that we can do it ourselves. This requires having absolute faith in ourselves. And, in order to have this kind of true, unwavering faith, we must also have compassion for those parts of ourselves that we’ve judged harshly or have felt judged as not good enough or ugly or deplorable. It demands that we choose to be truly honest with ourselves about who we are and accept that even in our missteps and perceived failures, we are still whole.
We need to reject the false Hollywood and Romance narratives that make us believe or feel that we are not enough, or that we need someone else to make our lives better, and to avoid the traps of co-dependence—whether emotional, psychological or even financial.
When we can approach relationships from a place of self-actualization and self-love, we can understand that they are not about completing one another but inspiring in each other the expression of one's truest and greatest self.