the myth of happily ever after

I’ve been moving through a lot of late.  The thing I notice about myself most notably is just how quickly I seem to be processing things these days.  What took me 12+ years just a couple of  years ago is now taking weeks, days, or sometimes just hours.  Some people might find it hard to believe that I am actually moving as quickly as I am through the things I am.  All I can say is, it’s true.  I am.  Expansion is a crazy thing.

The thing that I find myself moving through most recently is the releasing of patterns of codependency in relationships– and more specifically releasing that pattern from my heart– shifting the manner in which my heart loves.  I’m reconfiguring the electrical impulses within my heart and solar plexus to a massively expansive new place.  Honestly, I had no idea a heart could have this capacity.  But– what I’m realizing in a very tangible way is that love is truly infinite.

The man who I find myself relating to at the moment (you may remember him as door #2) is helping me immensely in shedding my codependent habits.  He is just exactly what I need right now– beyond any measure.  His boundaries are exceedingly clear– and he states them without hesitation– clearly and directly.  He tells me no.  (I’m not terribly used to that.)  And I love it.

What relating to him is allowing me to acknowledge for myself is that I really and truly do not need or want someone else around all the time.  Quite the opposite, as a matter of fact.  My time to myself is the most valuable time I have.  My pattern in the past, when I’ve encountered a person by whom I feel consumed, is to immediately try to consume them.  To this concept he says an immediate and emphatic– NO.  In response, I say an equally emphatic THANK YOU.

Who the hell wants to be consumed?  It doesn’t really feel very good when you take a step back and think about it.  It feels kind of confining– and not terribly healthy.  What is it in our society’s limited view of love that creates this idea of possession of another as being the way to “love”?  Why are we given images from an early age of  love being two”missing pieces” coming together to create a whole?  How can you possibly truly love another without first being an independent whole, capable of loving yourself?

I’ve had several people mention that I’m in the process of “falling in love,” as they observe me over the past couple of weeks.  While I don’t discount this idea, I also don’t react to it the way I would have just a few short weeks ago.  I find myself re-navigating these concepts as my knowledge of this man deepens along with my fondness for him.  While it is true that he is stirring within me feelings that are long dormant and certainly loving– it is equally true that I am in the midst of a massive transformation (in which he is most certainly playing a role)– but I am the one who is front and center.  When one is navigating massive transformation– it’s hard to define external circumstances in the ways that we are accustomed.

As I allow all of the constructs around relationships that are so firmly entrenched within my psyche to fall away, what I am left with is the simple joy of existing with this utterly beautiful man.  And then much bigger than that– existing without him.  He is helping to remind me of parts of myself that I had forgotten.  I’m remembering the joy of laughter, and he is allowing me to release a deeply seated need for control– one that is rooted in self-doubt and self-loathing– two things which I’m being asked to take a painfully close look at.

My marriage, beyond anything else, offered me security, as did every other relationship I tumbled quickly in and out of before it.  The seed of self doubt that I have carried around with me for the better part of this lifetime (and undoubtedly many before) was given ample reason to root and grow within the construct of the lifetime “commitment” I made as a girl of 23, to a boy of 23.  We were both equally to blame– a contract undertaken by children, understood as children.  It was a fairytale whole-heartedly believed by both of us– for a brief moment in time.

As children, none of the stories we read ever go past the “happily ever after” part.  It’s a foregone conclusion that if you are able to find your knight in shining armor, or beautiful princess and fumble your way through “falling in love” then your world will be a magically unfolding fairytale with mice who talk and birds who dress you.  Thus far, this has not been my experience.  (I’m not trying to discount it for those of you who have met the talking mice and dressing birds).

I’m also not trying to debunk marriage, or say that it isn’t something that works for some people– I know it does.  But, I’m simply saying that perhaps the dialog needs to happen a little earlier about the fact that “happily ever after” is bullshit.  Why are we continuing to perpetuate these myths to our children?  And what messages do they actually receive when the stories tell them one thing– and their lives, and the lives of the people around them purport something entirely different?

Could someone maybe write the story about what happened after the glass slipper miraculously fit?  Or what the next step was after Snow White and Sleeping Beaty were awoken by true love’s kiss?  And what is true love’s kiss?  I have true love for so many people– I could be waking up people from death-like sleeps all over Portland– seriously.  Does that mean that I’d have to live “happily ever after” with all of them?  Did Snow White and Prince Charming date first?  How did they navigate the fact that she had been living with twelve other men prior to their getting together?  Are we to assume that Prince Charming was at such a level of elevated consciousness that he did not succumb to jealousy?

Relationships of any kind, particularly marriages, require a shit load of work.  We just don’t talk about it– and somehow I believe we’re just expected to infer it.  Nobody ever told this sweet little 23 year old girl that neither love nor life is static.  Nobody mentioned that while two people may grow together, in a direction which is relatively similar, they just as easily may grow apart.  No one said, “hey, that’s great you love each other– but why the hell rush into marriage?”  No one said these things– and honestly, knowing myself, even if they had I may not have listened.  But I think if the dialog were present in the collective consciousness– the circumstances might be different.

If we didn’t spend months and months planning a ceremony in which the girl gets all “princessed” out and the guy all “princed” up– and it’s flowery and sugary and celebratory– often lacking in real substance– and spent some time teaching the real practicalities of what it is to build a life together, things might be different.  Don’t get me wrong, I think weddings are beautiful, and I think ceremony is an important part of life– but equally as important, if not more so at times, are the nuts and bolts.  Here’s what you’re gonna need to survive this:  That would have been helpful.

I remember being fifteen and having my parents tell me that they were going to get a divorce.  Was it this life experience at the tender age of fifteen that was supposed to prepare me for the dissolving of my own marriage almost twenty years later?  One of the largest things that stands out to me in that period shortly after they told me, was telling a friend of mine.  He laughed.  He thought I was joking.  These constructs we create are so powerful– the toppling of them is  hard to fathom.  He could not imagine “the Cregan family” existing in any other way.

It’s much the way I reacted when faced with the idea of “the Christiansen family” no longer existing.  It was not the marriage that I clung to– I understood clearly that it had deflated and disintegrated much earlier– leaving me nothing to grab.  “Happily ever after” had gone down the drain years before with the dirty dish water.  It was the construct of our “family.”  The massive blinders that I wore to keep that construct alive and breathing were the first barrier I had to get beyond in the shedding process.

Once I allowed the “family” to crumble– I realized how quickly and easily, fluidly, it rebuilt itself.  That ‘s the beauty of humanity– our capacity for change.  The kids and I settled quickly into our new structure– and the rest of the world followed along.  Which brings me back to now.

I don’t know how I feel about marriage anymore– I don’t think I need to know right now, because it’s not a construct that’s presenting itself to me.  I also don’t know how I feel about “falling in love” except of course that it feels good and exciting and new.  But I think more importantly what I want to focus my energy on is loving– and continuously teaching my children how to love fluidly.  Loving does not have to be solid– in fact, in truth it cannot be.  It doesn’t need to look like anything we’ve ever seen before.  It can be continuously created in our imaginations– the image of it just always out of reach.  Loving does not mean possession or happily ever after.  Loving is not all flowers and cartoon animals.  Loving can be gritty and painful.  Loving requires a devotion that “falling in love” doesn’t begin to touch.  I want my kids to understand that there is nothing monumental in the falling– it’s the getting back up, crawling out of that deep, dark hole and all the steps that you take after it that really matter.  That’s where true romance actually begins.

About mandycregan

i'm a mom, partner, healer, writer, business owner and dancer.
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2 Responses to the myth of happily ever after

  1. shetha says:

    So many things about this post resonate with me right now. Your ability to put them to words is enviable. Your ability to share them openly is nothing less than heroic, in my mind.

    “What we call our destiny is truly our character, and that character can be altered. The knowledge that we are responsible for our actions and attitudes does not need to be discouraging because it also means that we are free to change this destiny.

    One is not in bondage to the past which has shaped our feelings, race, inheritance or background. All this can be altered if we have the courage to examine how it formed us. We can alter the chemistry provided we have the courage to dissect the elements”
    -Anais Nin

    I see that you are really embracing the change, and dissecting all the elements. I admire your courage 🙂

    • mandycregan says:

      Thank you, Shetha. That is beautiful. I believe a big part of my purpose here– on this lovely planet is to help facilitate transformation. I am and have always been a practical learner. As I move through my process I realize that I am learning these things so that I can help others learn them as well. I’ve spent so many years scared to say the things I know to be true. This forum is my first step out into the larger world– it feels necessary and right. Thank you so much for your feedback and for listening.

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