Dismantling Disney’s ‘happily ever after’

Happily ever afterBY BETHANY FRAZIER

Like most kids, my own childhood ideals of love and partnership were shaped by Disney movies, sappy ballads and fairy tales. Typically (and traditionally), the rough and wild boy snapped into shape and fell in love with the beautiful girl (usually a princess) as they lived happily ever after in some elaborate mansion, under a rainbow, with no mortgage, love handles or life interruptions.

Happily Ever After.

Man, no wonder we’re so screwed up when our relationships end or run far past their expiration date, leaving us hurt and confused. We’re programmed to rely on the fantasy-induced idea of “forever and ever” to fix our problems. After all, we’re entitled to our “happily ever after” with our “one,” right?

Relying on the idea of “the one” and “happily ever after” [typically] isn’t reality, but it’s blissfully forgotten as we stumble our way into passionate, earth-shattering love with rose-tinted glasses on.

However, people grow and people change, even in relationships, especially in relationships.

Growth can mean lots of things — a career change, facing childhood issues or trauma, becoming spiritually enlightened, moving or simply discovering different things that make you happy.

Here’s the thing I’ve learned: You can support these changes with your partner (this also means giving them time to grow), complementing and incorporating one another in life’s shifts while the other route, what can tear and once love-filled relationship apart, is when partner involvement is ignored or unwanted. With this latter route, someone becomes confused and feels left out, which typically results in bitterness about their partner’s change or who they have “suddenly” become without any form of participation.

Please don’t get me wrong, we don’t need to be involved in every aspect during our partner’s life developments and transformations — they are their own person on their own journey, regardless of their relationship with us. However, when we fail to allow room to give support or simply communicate during these times, it can easily and unknowingly carve a pathway of mistrust and disconnection.

It can also signify our role in that relationship is done. Even that relationship you thought would be one of those happily ever afters.

The night my girlfriend and I broke up, she asked me with hot tears streaming down her face, “what if you’re the one? What if I’m making a mistake and letting the one go?” Instead of letting my ego overwhelm me with a harsh and emotion-filled comeback, these words came to the surface,

“I really don’t think there is the one. I think there are lots of ones. You will be fine, I was here when you needed me. You’ll be fine. We’ll be fine.”

She might have been shocked by my response (and maybe a little comforted). I was shocked. I had thought she was my one from the moment I saw her but, over the past year our relationship was everything but picture perfect or even alright. Individually, we had changed drastically and without any involvement from one another.

The fairy tale misrepresentation of reality and ideals on forever wasn’t playing out in our favor anymore. Our own “to infinity and beyond” couldn’t fix the damage we created.

Most of us enter a relationship to give and receive love. For some of us, that love and partnership is a beautiful (and fun) catalyst for us to learn a great deal about ourselves. When the relationship ends and the fantasy is over, it is our growth and clearer understanding of ourselves that is the real result of that connection.

This is the hardest lesson a broken heart can learn. This is an ego-less understanding, which takes an enlightened heart to see. It is when our hearts are crushed, trampled, and gently reconstructed that enlightenment enters us and those once rose-tinted glasses turn into high definition Ray Ban’s.

My own life journey has already been filled with people whom I loved and learned from, once making my heart swell with intensity and later broken into thousands of pieces in its end. Looking back, I see these relationship as a doorway that opened my eyes, heart, and also made room for the next love or adventure.

I don’t know if there is the ultimate one for me. And I’m OK with this. If someone else can enter my world, to make me grow even more with their love, lessons and final exit, that would be fine with me.

However, if someone enters my life and remains by my side for the rest of my time on this earth, learning and growing, I would warmly welcome it. (What a lovely thought!)

For few people, there are relationships where love enters and remains a literal forever, through years of all sorts of growth — sharing life together during good and bad (and every moment in between). It’s these kinds of stories of eternal love that are amazing and also somewhat mythical. My paternal grandparents represent this forever — they’ve been together for 60 years — gone through ups, downs, and still remain crazy in love, even during a time when one of them is slowly dying of cancer.

I’m not against happily ever after, it can exist, but it’s not the experience most of us have had — no matter what fairy tales, religion or love songs tell us.

People enter and exit our life like a beautifully orchestrated play. With these well-timed introductions and departures we are given the opportunity to grieve the loss, rebuild, and grow (and also build walls — not recommended)

Our ideals on happily ever after or the one are likely to change as we shift through life, learning and expanding from connections with others and yourself. Perhaps, some will find themselves in their own forever relationship. Either way, we’re always growing, to recognize this and learn from life’s transformations is just as beautiful as any Disney movie ending (tweeting birds and rainbow-filled sky not included).

Born a true Texas girl, Bethany U-Hauled to the beautiful, history-drenched city of Richmond, Virginia, for long distance love that eventually ended. In addition to obsessing and writing about Richmond’s food scene (restaurants, festivals, and trends), she’s a connoisseur of painting, aromatherapy, indie music and English accents. Find her stuff at Grub Like A Girl and One Check Or Two.

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