I just got through reading a book titled "Stupid About Men: Ten Rules for Getting Romance Right" by Deborah Dunn. It's an interesting and amusing book, and I highly recommend it. It's a bit of a light read, and I got through it quickly. Each chapter talks about a popular fairy tale, and the subliminal message that these tales give off to young women. Some of these messages and themes include: Snow White: and how life really only began once she was "awoken" by a prince, The Princess and the Pea: about how women are constantly trying to please others, to their own detriment, The Frog and the Princess: how we women are able to take a "frog" and change him into the prince that we want him to be, among others.
As I read the book I found myself nodding as I perused the pages. Even if I couldn't totally relate to everything, there was at least something that rang true for me in every chapter and "lesson" that the author was discussing. Mostly what hit home, was the idea that life should read like a fairytale, and we, as women, are playing the roles of princesses. Patiently waiting for our prince, or knight, or some other similar but equally regal and handsome character to come along in our lives and sweep us off our feet. Because, of course, until this man comes along, we are not really complete. We are merely floundering along in life,wishing, hoping, and praying that someone comes to our "rescue".
This message is wrong. It is so completely and totally wrong, on many levels. And yet, it's the prevalent theme in our society, and truthfully, has been the prevalent theme in my life. Somewhere along the way, I decided that, without a man, I wasn't complete. I needed someone by my side, no matter what. If I wasn't in a relationship, there was something terribly wrong with me. And so, it's really no wonder, that I, armed with this twisted thought process, managed to marry someone who I knew in my heart was completely wrong for me.
I actually found a t-shirt on cafepress.com, when I was looking for appropriate attire for my divorce party, which properly summed up my marriage. It read: "My Knight in Shining Armor, Turned Out to be a Loser in Aluminum Foil". I snickered when I read that line because it rang so true. As a bride-to-be at the tender age of 22, I thought that I had found the man of my dreams. We would get married, have a family, and live happily ever after. The only problem with "happily ever after" is that's where these fairy tales always end. There is never a sequel or a follow-up to check-in and make sure that happily ever after is really all that it has been made out to be.
In my case, my "happily ever after" lasted a mere three and half years. It was cut short when I found out that my "prince" was not at all who I thought he was. Or, more accurately, he was not who I hoped he would be. The frog that I had so desperately hoped would change into a prince, merely morphed back into the toad that he had been all along.
Even though the year is 2011, this fairy tale theme is still alive, well, and very prevalent in society, and, more specifically, in my own life. From almost the moment that the ink was dry on my divorce papers, the absence of a man by my side has been a constant topic for discussion. Countless "well-meaning" people have made attempts to set me up with nice young men. Whether intentional or not, the unspoken message is that I am a poor, single mother who has been wronged by her evil, villain of an ex-husband and the only logical solution for me is to find a wonderful man (a knight or a prince, either will do) who can rescue me and my child and marry me and we can procreate and add to our royal family and we will all live happily ever after.
I don't mean to give off the impression that I am angry and bitter or imply that I don't wish to meet someone wonderful someday. I do. And I sincerely hope and believe that, one day, I will. However, until that time comes, I am perfectly fine on my own. I have wonderful friends. I have supportive family. I have an excellent job. I am working towards various goals such as running in a half marathon and obtaining my Certified Financial Planning certification. I am financially self-sufficient and I own my home and vehicle. And beyond all of that, I strive to be the best mother to P that I can be. In taking inventory of my life, I am content and proud of what I have accomplished and where I am today. I am blessed to live a full and happy life, even though, for now, that does not include a man. However, I understand the reason that people want me to find love. They know that I didn't have the opportunity to truly enjoy being a wife, and I settled for marrying someone who didn't treat me the way that I wanted or deserved. They want me to experience the joy of having a loving husband, and creating family together. Above all they want me to be happy. And, at least a small part of them likes the idea of me one day finding my prince. Because, let's face it, most of us are all just hopeless romantics at heart. We cry at the end of sappy movies. We get nostalgic when we hear certain songs on the radio. We want to believe in true love. And, of course, we want to believe in fairy tales.