The Truth About Fairy Tales
The power of fairy tales in our lives shouldn’t be underestimated. I asked the question in my Wild Souled Women Facebook Group “What was your favourite fairy tale and why?”
The responses rolled in:
- Snow White
- Beauty and the beast
- Alice in Wonderland
- She could escape
- She would be rescued
- The underdog wins
- prince charming
Common themes in many people’s lives. No coincidence they love these fairy tales so much, perhaps they mimic parts of their own lives, embodying those fairy tales in some ways.
It made me wonder if their self loathing isn’t as much about their weight or lack of a thigh gap or the right size cheek bones or boobs that sag, and more about becoming that which they declared they never would.
She swore she’d never be trapped, like her mother was. In a marriage she was miserable in. Yet, here she is. Stuck financially and because of the kids. When was our fairy tale shattered? The belief that it would change and everything would work out for the best?
Maybe it happened when her mother slapped her across the face for the first time. Or when her father called her a whore. Or maybe it was when her uncle put his hands down her pants, or the boy she liked pinned her to the ground… or when her father beat her mother or the priest pummelled the students… I can go on, sharing more of the moments fairy tales were shattered that have been shared with me over the years… but you get the point.
What happened when she realized the fairy tale wasn’t real, after all? Prince charming is stupid and he’s never coming. As she got older, everyone agreed. It was a fairy tale. Not real.
When did you lock yourself up? Start escaping reality? Shut down, close up, lose faith, love and hope as you built a castle around yourself to protect yourself from the cruel harsh world.
Not realizing you were building a world that no one could penetrate, not even Prince Charming, not even if he wanted to, if he showed up. When did you harden your heart to the world, putting it in a safe place so it wouldn’t be shattered?
The thing about fairy tales is that they have been around for centuries – far longer than the Disney-fication, scrubbed clean and child friendly versions we know today. REAL fairy tales are rife with meaning and metaphor and struggles and pain. And not all end in happily ever after, but all end in valuable lessons.
Meanwhile, you did not realize that you were, in fact, writing the script of your very own fairy tale – waiting for someone to rescue you. IF they loved you enough, they’d find a way. But you had stopped believing in miracles and the more people who didn’t smash the castles walls and fight the dragon, the less you believed and the more “right” you became – that no one cared and that love didn’t exist.
In not believing you shut down and pushed away all possibilities of miracles and ever after. We get what we believe in, and you began to settle for what you believed in, not what you really wanted. Instead of asking for what you wanted, you shoved it down further and further until it was all but gone. Perhaps that extra piece of cake would shut her up? And it would, for a time. For a while you thought you really loved cake and that’s all it was about.
But deep inside, was the one who still believed, who still held onto that hope. It had gotten twisted in bitterness and anger though. People tried to get in but she didn’t see it. She just thought they weren’t trying hard enough.
Fairy Tales are not all sunshine,roses and glass slippers. In many of Hans Christian Anderson and Brother Grimm tales, there are horrifying tales rife with lessons. Rapunzel, my personal favourite, is a great example. She was given to a witch because her mother and father had stolen herbs from the garden.
The prince and her were having booty calls and she got knocked up (check out the original story!). The witch banished her to the desert where she gave birth to twins on her own and wandered the desert for 4 years. The prince was fooled by the witch, where he leapt to his death but didn’t die and had his eyes gouged out by thorns.
Ah, that’s more like it isn’t it?
Yes, now we have a less clean version of the fairy tale. Eventually they find each other, the princess cried into the prince’s eyes and he magically sees again and they live happily ever after.
But like, happily ever after came after some serious struggle. Not the “overcome the witch” struggle – like blindness, wandering the dessert, illegitimate children back in the day when you could be stoned to death for that, blinded by thorns? WTF?
I mean, fairy tales are fucked, really.
Somehow in our watered down version we missed the struggle. And in the childlike wonder, especially if you’re not having a great time yourself, you remember the great parts – the prince, the rescue, the love, the happily ever after.
But you forgot the struggle. And the struggle is the point of the fairy tale. Happily ever after doesn’t just show up. We have to grow into the people who can handle those relationships. We have to face our own demons, in the desert. We have to be blinded so we can see again. We have to be parched so we can drink again. We have to be lost and hurt and exiled so we can be loved and give love and know home when we find it.
Fairy Tales aren’t for the faint of heart. They are for the warriors, the ones who will wander and be beaten down, stripped away, robbed, hurt, exiled. For they will rise again, stronger than ever.
And you forgot that too, didn’t you? That you chose to build that castle. That you chose to wall up, close off, hide away – becoming your own wicked witch who would lock yourself into the castle with no escape. It’s no wonder in my own life that I walled myself up really good. Waiting to be rescued by the prince.
No matter how many princes came, I chopped their hands off when they made it to the turret. I realized not that long ago I was the one who imprisoned myself and I was the only one who could reduce my sentence. So I chopped off my long hair and repelled down the castle wall, wandered the desert and searched for all parts of myself that had been hidden, exiled and sent away as not good enough.
I became my own rescuer. And I breathed new life into my life and I breathed new life into those who surrounded me.
No one could save me but me. Fairy Tales are not all glass slippers and prince charming. They are lessons and struggles and fighting to the death to save your very soul. Stories influence our lives in far greater ways than we can imagine.
Our fragile and developing psyche’s as children, so susceptible to the promise of Long Ago and Far Away… when we take stock of our lives it’s not surprising to see our favourite stories have played out in some version in our lives.
Is happily ever after a myth, or could it be that what you were seeking was not what you expected? Or you forgot that you’re still in the story? That you’re learning the lessons and when you open up to receive them, you will also receive the blessings?
We can’t skip the struggle. Yet that’s what we try to do. We want it to be easy. But the point of the story is the struggle, for overcoming the obstacles in our path is what leads us to victory.
And happily ever after is far better than any Fairy Tale you could have ever imagined!