Sunday, August 3, 2014

Happily Ever After Revamped

Girls are raised from the beginning, from their earliest days, to wait and hope for their Prince Charming. Most of Disney’s catalogue, in fact, features a fair maiden who is saved from her miserable life, whatever that constitutes, by an amazing man who does whatever it takes to have her, marry her, and live happily ever after with her. We’re taught to hope that happily ever after happens to us like that’s the only fulfilling thing we will ever experience. Being married to a dream man with adorable faults whose sole purpose in life is to bind us in matrimony for the rest of our lives is EVERYTHING.

Cinderella doesn’t fantasize about nailing her dream job and getting out of servitude to her evil step-family. She doesn’t dream about starting her own DIY blog or using her new mouse friends to start her own clothing line. She dreams of attending the ball, of climbing the social ladder, and marrying her prince. Instead of using her magical animal friends to help her escape, they make her a dress to impress the man of her dreams.

Ariel dreams of walking on land, of being with people (that should make you question her sanity right there). Her desire is to go where the people are…especially when she meets Eric. And from then on every. single. hope. has to do with being with that man. Her whole life’s goal is that man even if she has to give up her very identity, her metaphorical soul to do so.

Snow White’s entire existence is dependent upon being kissed by a man who falls for her upon sight. She doesn’t wake up to hopes and dreams of going back to school, getting a degree, or becoming a stay at home mom and independent author. She counts on happily ever after with a man who only knows her as a silent, willing body…in a coma and totally compliant.

              Why do we do this to ourselves?

Why do we base all our hopes and dreams and happiness in loving another human being?

Fuck that.

The societal norm of finding our “other halves,” of hoping to connect to someone who in some way “completes” us seems a bit odd. Logically, wouldn’t it seem like a better plan to find happiness in ourselves, to develop our own hopes, dreams, and goals so that we can share those things with someone else rather than depending on another person to do it for us? Perhaps that’s part of the problem and why we see divorce rates continue to climb in this country. Instead of focusing on ourselves and knowing ourselves, we’re pressured, consciously or not, to hope that someone will come along and rescue us from our own lives, who will sweep us away on a white horse to happily ever after—a state of being that is conveniently never fully described in any fairly tale.

Being in love, whatever that means, is a great feeling. There’s no denying it. But, the same centers in the brain are activated by love as by certain drugs, and when a relationship is over, addiction centers see an increase in activity. We get a high from love that clouds our judgment yet makes us euphoric and when it leaves, we’re left empty, afraid, and withdrawing. It takes a sound person to make it through that unscathed…not the kind of person who grew up thinking that fairy tales are something to hope for. I learned a long time ago that determining my worth is not dependent on being with someone no matter how much I dig intimacy. I figured out I can be happy right by myself. I totally dig me and all I’m about. I don’t have to hope for a Prince Charming to get by because I’m my own savior, my own hope for happily ever after. Love is easier that way because it’s not what I base my entire existence upon…I don’t need a Prince to wake me up from my coma and throw me onto his horse to ride off into the sunset together. I’m already awake, and any Prince that walks into my life is going to have to get off his fucking horse and get to work in my garden. Them’s the breaks.

Perhaps fairly tales need to be revamped a bit so we can teach our girls that love isn’t the be-all, end-all to a happy story. I would hope that all of us would want more for them. I know I want more for my nieces.

And, as always, this has been a part of Sunday Confessions with More than Cheese and Beer. The prompt is Hope. Check out her blog to read the other link ups and her Facebook page for anonymous confessions.

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