photo courtesy Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella
And they lived happily ever after……
Whoever among all you ladies-in-waiting out there that can deny the lilting taunt of this phrase, the teasing promise of a life lived in perfection beneath the adoring gaze of the world’s most devoted and handsome man alive is-well-lying. Or you are highly evolved as a member of the fairer sex; and I applaud you.
It all begins with the stories, those innocent tales read to us as bedtime pacifiers meant to send us off to dreamland with hope and contentment. What it does, dear and unsuspecting parents everywhere, is build your daughters up for the letdown of their lives. Now, before all you glittering brides with stardust in your eyes come after me with your fairy godmothers behind, wands-a-waving, let me say that if you have found your Prince Charming and it is all you ever dreamed and more-congratulations. You may leave now, content in your bubble, holding your glass slipper and sipping non pink champagne as you watch Ozzie and Harriet reruns. For the channel on my set is tuned in to Pleasantville. A very favorite flick of mine. And my husband. And, as far as I know, all four of my sons. Why? Because if calls for re evaluating all of our perceived notions of life as we have been programmed. It asks us to question our encapsulated concepts of life, love and acceptance.
In the scene above, David is helping his “tv” mother to cover up her indiscretion-her color. She has found her own sexuality and lost the acceptable gray hue of normalcy that defines the inhabitants of Pleasantville. Her loss, however, is in fact her rebirth. Although she knows she feels alive, she still feels the need to conform, another fallacy we innocently foist upon our children as we struggle as parents to make them aware of the world around them and their place in it. We are not completely at fault for it is the way we were taught ourselves. Where would the world be without color?
But I digress. I believe I came here today to speak of another, a darker figure that lurks within the heart and soul of many women, although not all are willing to meet their puppeteer in the daylight. It is fine to scoff at the Cinderella Syndrome as we sit upon our windowsill, awaiting the next adventure, the next affair, the next big thrill. But, in truth, how much closer to freedom is the figure who chooses not to seek her Prince Charming, but rather to trail after the dark Huntsman who holds his shield up, trying to warn of the folly in such a choice? You know who you are. You believe you know just what that Huntsman really needs-and you can give it to him-if only he will slow down enough for you to catch up!
The desire in your body and the longing in your soul cry out, “love, dedication, nurturing, acceptance!” You are willing to accept him just as he is, though that may include leaving you alone in your little house in the woods while he goes on dragon slaying adventures or rescuing damsels in distress and wooing them while you spin gold from straw. Wait. Why would he do that? He never rescued you. Because you were not in distress, brave and daring female. Were you?
Perhaps your particular distress was simply a need to be needed. If only you could fix it, fix him, show him how wonderful he is, then he would love you forever. Right? Yet when it doesn’t happen you are left alone, an aging non-princess, disillusioned. You begin thinking twice about finding your own prince. But wait, there’s a Magician! He looks so lonely there in his little wagon. You envision yourself as an assistant….
Why are relationships so challenging, so painful and so nonsensical at times? What are we working so hard at anyway? I actually heard a young female friend of mine say about her live in boyfriend and some of his irritatingly “wrong” habits, “Well, that’s all going to change when we get married.”
Wait…I’ve been married twice and I swear I don’t recall anything in the vows about “to shape and to mold”. WTF??? Seriously. Who thinks up this stuff? If we could go into a relationship with real acceptance of our partner, knowing full well that opposites attract and try to understand what learning opportunities there might be for one another, rather than attempting to fulfill some idea of what the perfect relationship is, we might not suffer as much or feel the need to cast aside what is imperfect under the presumption that perfection is possible without struggle.
What drives us to plunge from the open window of our turret and into the murky depths of the moat , silken gown floating up over our heads to reveal our very special gifts before object of our desires as he merely glances over an armored shoulder? What makes people like me run screaming from the whole idea of Prince Charming and Happily Ever After? Perhaps it is merely the darkness within that coaxes us to look for adventure, to break the rules and feel the thunder of the hooves as we bounce along, clinging tightly to the Huntsman. But the armor is often so cold, so impenetrable, that we spend the better part of a lifetime trying to pry it off. Why?
Because we just know there’s really a prince inside. He just doesn’t know it himself. What we fail to accept is that perhaps he isn’t a Prince, nor does he aspire to be. The real question here is what is it we love the most? Is it the Huntsman who comes out of his armor to play and thrill us with his magic? Or is it simply the quest of getting him to peel back the layers to reveal himself? I don’t feel there is anything wrong with the process. I just think we need to be honest about what we want from it.
Shrek said he was like an onion, with layers. I like layers; but with the peeling of an onion, there are often lots of tears and questioning whether the freeze dried kind might have been good enough. For me, the answer is no. But for many, the peeling process is just too overwhelming. So, as I run down the path where he waits impatiently, I shout over my shoulder to my sister, dear Cinderella, “Warm up the fire for your casserole, and enjoy your kingdom! I will be with my Huntsman; but I am not sending him off to slay dragons alone. I’m going along. Just in case he needs my help to climb any ivory towers to rescue damsels in distress…..
The universal theme for all of us, male or female, often boils down to need. The need for help and acceptance. In whatever form we can find it.
Love and Light,