We have been trained in the way of princess and savior. Cinderella stories of powerless victimization rescued by some prince with a little magical help from above. It is not our strength, our fortitude or our cleverness, we are told, that will create the bridge from present to future. Rather, it is man or magic that will rescue us from whatever state we have fallen to. It is the magic kiss that heralds the good life. The “they lived happily ever after” still bred in modern day romances. It is insidious. It is implied in the bombardment of magazines that tell us to be thinner, have smother skin and whiter teeth. If we are pretty enough, only then we can feel good about ourselves. Pretty has become the fairy godmother. It is the magic that will make everything better, that will give us the gown and the glass slipper Cinderella got to catch her man.
We educated ones claim our independence. We know that the story is a myth. But, the myth has crept in our cells while we were sleeping, downloading the incessant stream of media information and social interactions we receive each day. It is the shadow in the galleys that hides just at the edge of the peripheral vision.
There comes a time for each princessed woman when our knight will fall. When he will drop to his knees in the clank of hammered metal. When the character trait we thought was responsibility reveals itself to be rooted in a fear of doing it wrong. When what you thought was pure compassionate response feels like a hijaking of your own experience. When the quiet you assumed was stillness turns out to be the external freeze of the internal ruminations of trying to figure out “what the hell is going on.” There comes a time when the knight loses his armor, when the prince loses his crown and reveals himself to be nothing more than human.
It is in that moment that the galley doors are opened wide and we stare straight in the face of our peripheral. When the lumpened vericosed veins of princess ideology are impossible to ignore in their craggy bulgingness, like foreign masses that have twisted and distorted what was once a clear stream. We are called upon then to bring out bulldozer, trash bags and heavy gloves. We discover that the magic we were seeking turns out not to be the fairy wand, but the labored work of our own hands.
Love cannot exist in the land of fairy tales. That kind of love is misty and impossible to hold onto. Our lovers must leave their rescuing armor besides our princess gowns, there in the land of impossibilities. We must learn to walk side-by-side, naked in our humanity, free from unrealistic expectations and archetypal overlays. Only then can love become real.
Sabrina Santa Clara