In this final installment of “Fools For” let’s talk “Fairy Tales” that are not the make-believe scenarios and juvenile concepts of childhood bedtime stories and Disney movies (see parts I & II). These fools’ tales told are the made-up truths we grown-ass women tell ourselves (and others) in the well-meaning intent to comfort and inspire.
Axioms, sayings and quotes . . . sometimes even rambling long-ass paragraphs of life-lived/lesson-learned insight . . . usually calligraphed across breathtaking color pictures of nature or artfully posed models in black and white photographs of classic elegance . . . I know you know whereof I speak—these images and words masquerading as messages of hope and wisdom and motivation. We all know them because we all post them and share them—and worse. We interject them in comments to complete strangers as offerings of sympathy, strength and support—these expressions of care, concern and commiseration that function well as well as advice and problem solving. But in reality (or at least in my most cynical version thereof) they are doing a disservice—these banal statements and tired platitudes and one-size-fits-all-always panacean cure-alls. A truly “who knows if it’s true” truth we want to be true. In short . . . fairy tales, ladies, fairy tales, tailored to the situation like the emperor’s new clothes (It’s a metaphor. Read to mean: really not real at all—but because no one speaks up to say nay, the lie abides).
In terms of relationship breakups and moving on the most common bromides (and the ones I personally am sick to death of hearing) are these:
- You deserve better.
- The Universe has a plan.
- There’s a reason.
- There’s a silver lining.
- Work on you and it will happen (when you least expect it!)
- The right one will come along (when you least expect it!)
- Be the best you can be and someone amazing will find you.
Not that there isn’t a time, place, purpose for—and, yes! a true value in—the above. Nor should the heart-felt desire to pick up another when she has fallen ever be mocked! Please know such is not my aim now. But as one who has heard the spiel one time too many, let me address the unaddressed and point out (STILL a metaphor) the emperor’s hairy ass . . .
Believing in the above en masse as gospel begs the question: Who then is at fault if my deserved, better, Universe-planned, silver lining, right and amazing one doesn’t come along? (‘Cause in an unfairytale world HE MAY NOT.) Ergo, I must have fucked up. Right? Either I actually don’t deserve better—or I didn’t believe enough, work enough, heal enough to be that evolved version of me Mr. Amazing was supposed to find (when I least expected it). And speaking of evolving and improving . . .
I call bullshit.
Think about it, ladies. We have all known royal bitches, certifiable nut jobs, tiring drama queens or perpetual damsels in distress IN relationships—AND WITH NICE GUYS—sometimes GREAT guys. Yet according to the fairy tale, I have to be the best I can be? Well, why the fuck don’t THEY? No, I’m not perfect. Far from it, in fact! But neither am I broken. Certainly not so as to need fixing before love can find me. So, yeah. Bullshit.
The unfairytale truth is this: In spite of our best efforts and sincerest desires, IT DOESN’T ALWAYS WORK OUT THE WAY WE WANT! PERIOD. And here’s a second shocker: SOMETIMES THERE ISN’T A DAMN THING YOU CAN DO TO CHANGE IT! Call it destiny?
The ancient Greeks and Romans believed the destinies of we mere mortals were tapestries whose weaving was overseen by three goddesses called “the Fates.” They held and controlled the mother thread of life, watching to ensure that the fate assigned to every being might take its course without obstruction. Islam believes all is written at the time of our births in a “Book of Fate,” including the time of our deaths. (Here’s a fun fact: So strong was the belief, during the Crusades some warriors rode into battle sans armor—‘cause hey! If it wasn’t their time, it wasn’t their time.) In the 16th century, Protestant Calvanists believed in something called predetermination, a theological little notion that since God has foreordained every event throughout eternity, men (and women, I’m guessing) are preordained either to everlasting happiness or to misery. (I don’t know about you . . . but in each of these I’m seeing a thread . . . and it’s a mother all right!)
Unsurprisingly, modern man (and woman) rebels against these concepts of a higher being deciding in advance our lot in life. We cite “free will” and “all men (and women, I’m guessing) are created equal.” (REALLY?!? I’m looking at Bradley Cooper on Irina What’sherface’s arm at the Oscars and I’m NOT seeing equal. Just saying, but I clearly drew a short thread compared to hers!) Nonetheless, we believe we control our fates, our destinies, our lives. What decides our fates, are our choices.
But let me play Devil’s advocate a bit more. Let me ask this: Have we not all known people who just seem blessed? (My mother used to call them the ones “who can fall in a pile of shit and come out with a rose between their teeth.”) Others, however, are like that cartoon figure with a perpetual cloud hanging overhead. Either way, we call it “luck.” And some have it—and others don’t. Who’s to say, though, that bad luck isn’t punishment for the sins of a former life while good luck is the reward for past good deeds? Seriously, who knows?
Naturally I realize this flies in the face of most popular self-help routes: The build it and they will come pathways to success and happiness . . . ala the “dream it, see it and achieve it” super highway Oprahites so favor . . . or the nowadays “affirmation” avenue that is all the craze . . . Doubtlessly some reading this will refute me. They will say such negative energy and thinking blocks positive energy and the change the Universe has in store. But hear me out.
I am not advocating total surrender, ala giving up and throwing in the romance towel. Nor am I saying we shouldn’t try to effect change. But “try” is a road without a guarantee of destination. Hope and try and dreams are all means to what we want to be real. But “want” and “real” are not inclusive. Neither are they absolute truths—as are these:
- We don’t always get what we give—or deserve.
- Shit happens.
- We can’t control everything.
- It’s the expectation that often makes us the unhappiest
The intent of this post is to let those who are similarly tired of being fed the aforementioned fairy tales know they are not alone in their frustration. This is not to say I don’t still desire the dream of romantic love . . . but when it comes to believing it will happen . . . I’m far less a fool for the fairy tales than I am a pragmatist for the reality that those bitches may have very well pulled the romance thread from my tapestry . . .
Postscript: Ladies, if ya still gotta have ‘em . . . the best words this cynic can offer in her well-meaning intent to comfort and inspire are these:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the fucking difference!