There aren’t many moments lately where I haven’t wished I could enjoy the carefree days of my youth again. Little did I know that the fairy-tale fantasies of my youth- the books, the videos (yeah, VHS…remember that?) and merchandise would only serve to f*** me over in a big way some twenty years later. Those beloved stories: waiting for my one true love while I comfortably nap my life away, of hoping that he’ll be as perfect for me as the fit of a sparkly shoe, and of knowing how we are meant to be together with just one kiss and an Alan Menken duet, have all totally ruined real-life relationships for me. Perhaps I’m a bit late to the party on this, or perhaps there are other young women out there like me who have yet to realize that happily ever after in the classic sense simply does not exist.
Juxtapose those subliminal messages with the ones I took away from my favorite TV show as a young adult: “Sex and the City”. Oh god, how fabulous was that show? And Carrie Bradshaw swept around New York City moving from guy to guy because no one really understood her except the one man she couldn’t have.
(Until later on when they needed to make a movie) I used to believe I was like Carrie- that I was too difficult, complicated and special for any of the small-town boys I dated throughout high school and college to comprehend. Then I went to New York City and no man understood me there either, until I met Drewski. And Carrie Bradshaw? Yeah, she sucks too.
The messages I took away from these digital experiences was that every moment of my future relationships were supposed to have what I like to call the “Va Zing”. Every.single.moment-BAM!VA ZING! And then when the va- zing declined (as it always did) I thought it was them and not me. Turns out
90% 50% of the time it was me. That old famous saying “If you doubt, then don’t” when applied in context to love and relationships is only applicable some of the time. Changing your perception, especially one that has been held for so long can be especially difficult, whether it comes to love or money.I hope you guys can pardon the break in finance-related content. This topic is extremely relevant to me right now and I thought it might help to hear about relationship anxiety, you know, out loud from a real person and not just from the nagging, anxious fairy-godmother voice inside your head. It’s a problem-it exists!
So where do we go from here? After the walls of the castle have come down and we are finished detoxing from all of the fairy-tale nonsense, I mean. My therapist asked me a very powerful question the other day: “What does happily ever after look like to you?”
My adult self had known this answer all along: happily ever after is writing for a living, a supportive partner, a stable home life with a man who makes himself emotionally available to me, and who accepts and loves me for who I am. I knew this, but still somewhere deep inside there was a young girl inside of me wailing: “Where is my slipper? My element of danger and surprise? Is this it? Because it doesn’t look like anything I dreamed about growing up!”
A few other things don’t look the way I thought they would as a child: working is actual hard work, the reproductive issues that devastated me in 2008, and having a degree that doesn’t serve much purpose for the person I am today. Still, we get up and move on. It’s very easy to act like I have all the answers. L Bee and the Money Tree would probably slap her former child-self in the face and tell her to STFU. When you strip away the words however, Lauren the person is still here and has to find a way to mine through my feelings and deal with the shift in expectations. Lauren the person doesn’t have the answers at all.
Grieving the Fairy Tale
We all were devastated when we found out Santa didn’t exist. We cried and we grieved and then we got over it, because we realized we’d still be getting presents every December 25th but a real person would be gifting them instead of a creepy old man with a record of B&E. I need to grieve the loss of the fairy tale the same way I did for Santa, but sometimes it just takes longer to dispel the myth. In the same way though, I still get to have an awesome fairy tale, it just looks different, and that’s okay too. It’s also okay to be sad, being a princess would be awesome but I do get other amazing things in return that Snow White, Cinderella, Ariel and Belle never got to have: real working legs, loving parents, a man who doesn’t have a back hair problem, and friends who aren’t household appliances…just to name a few.
All jokes aside, there is a lot to be thankful for…but sometimes you have to feel out the sadness before you can fully move on. Life isn’t about sitting and waiting for the fairy tale to come true, because you have to give as good as you get.
I am very interested in hearing from my readers:
What did “happily ever after” look like to you as a child? What does it look like to you now? Were you ever disappointed by the loss of the fantasy?