Reading fairy tales as children we begin to see a picture of what love is. We see it as a rescue. From the evil stepmother or the tower.
I didn’t grow up believing in fairy tales or particularly wanting one. I wanted real. I wanted the opposite of fairy tale.
As I have moved through the cycles of mental illness, I’ve learned something about myself. I learned that those fairy tales had more of an effect on me that I would have ever thought. I did not want the ridiculous romance, corny song and dance or over the top displays of affection. But, I wanted the rescue. I wanted someone else to take me away from the pain in my life…in my head.
I unknowingly put this pressure on my relationship. And maybe it wasn’t just in my love relationships but also in my friendships.
I wanted someone to break me out of the tower that my mental illness built without my permission. I wanted to not have to struggle and fight and scratch my way out of it. I actually really wanted some person to break me out of it all.
How fucked up is that? How could anyone possibly save me from the demons that only I can see? I started to know this about myself years ago while in psychotherapy. It was a huge revelation at the time. And yet, even now, I wistfully imagine how Joey or a friend can fight my demons for me. Totally knowing how ridiculous of a concept that is.
I’ll unintentionally place that heavy burden on someone and when inevitably they can’t rescue me, I’m hurt and sad and the tower gets stronger and bigger and more imposing than ever.
It’s a self-imposed and self-fulfilling prophecy. One in which my brain tells me that life is sad and lonely and people don’t really care. And I make it my reality with my unrealistic expectations.
The danger with fairy tales isn’t that they are unrealistic and make believe. I’m not even tackling this from my feminist perspective (of which I’m sure I could go on for hours). No. The danger in fairy tales is that it doesn’t show the heroine (or hero) saving themselves. Escaping with no ones help. Fighting battles on their own. Defeating that evil stepbitch solo.
If I wrote a fairy tale. I would show the anxiety and a big scary dragon who constantly wants to fight me and the depression would be a huge never ending dark pit that stands in the way of my escape. The fight and escape? The happily ever after?
Well I haven’t figured that part out.