The Usual Bliss is, well, blissful. It’s a happy corner of the blog world, a testiment to positivity, good food, good friends, a good life. Amber is an adventurous foodie, a traveler, a superior dog mama, and- as is clear from her gorgeous posts about her recent, gorgeous wedding– one hell of a party planner. From my lapton screen, the cubed view of her life makes me think of words like charmed and brilliant and beautiful.
It was her post “Tell me a story.” that shook my perception of a “lucky” existence. It seems her happiness is not the result of a perfectly untouched fairy tale but rather a defiant display of spirit despite a hand harshly dealt. For today’s Tiny Spark, Amber continues to share her tale of a hard fall from a happy ending, coping with life’s unexpected plot twists, and shining, messy as the story can get.
Do you believe in fairy tales? What does “happily ever after” even mean?
I was raised on Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel. In addition, I grew up with a strong, loving, present father. I believed that my own “happily ever after” would include a prince, naturally. He might not look just like Prince Charming. But he would make all my dreams come true- dreams that included becoming a wife and- the icing on my Life Cake– a mother.
The idea that a Prince Charming is the ticket to a “happily ever after” is dangerous thinking. And it starts in preschool. How many of you mothers of young girls went through a serious princess phase? How many of you younger ladies still hope and dream for your prince?
Recently, I wrote about my own “fairy tale” on The Usual Bliss. It starts out with “Once upon a time…” and the story flowed along wonderfully, for a while. I believed love could conquer all. Naïve? Maybe. Hopeful? Absolutely.
One fateful night, fueled by alcohol and insecurity, my husband lost control of himself. In the days and weeks and months to come, I was sure that my fairy tale had ended. There’s no place for a black eye or broken ribs in anyone’s happily ever after. I’d missed my chance at my dreams. I envisioned the babies I longed to have and realized that they deserved more than this. And I left my fairy tale behind.
It was the hardest thing I had ever done.
A key point of my story that I left out of the blog post is hard for me to verbalize, even now: If I hadn’t run to my friends’ home- and been seen– I don’t know if I would have left. I can pretty easily imagine a scenario where friends weren’t involved, where I called in sick to work while I healed and avoided phone calls. A scenario where I pretended to listen to the apologies and even put the “I’m sorry” flowers in a vase. A scenario where I stashed the whole horrible event into a box and hid it on a very high shelf, never to be opened again. But because others were involved, I became accountable to make smarter decisions. They knew what had happened. And that made it more real.
A dear friend basically forced me to call a therapist that first week. Thus began my weekly journey to find the MYSELF that I had abandoned. I spent an hour with my
Fairy Godmother therapist every week for two years. Some sessions were filled with tears, some with anger, most with doubt. I dreaded the visits at the beginning and needed them toward the end. When someone has been in a cycle of abuse, whether it is emotional or physical, his/her self-worth is on the floor. Worse- it’s in the basement, cold and covered in spiderwebs. It takes work to dust it off, bring it out into the sun, and let it shine again. I credit my time with Dr. King as the main reason I was able to begin to live again. And not just live- fall in love, too.
As I wrote in my post, I realize now that my fairy tale wasn’t over. It was just far more complicated than I had ever dreamed. Life is messy. It’s how we react to the messy times that matters.
I’m recently married to a loving, wonderful man. He’s not a prince- but he sure does love me. I’ve got a new chapter of my life to work on. I’m still hoping for those babies to fill up my life with even more joy. It was the thought of those daydreamed children that put one foot in front of another and walked me out of my abusive life. Someday, I hope to tell them the story of a very brave girl who did the hardest thing- because it was the right thing.
I have no idea how my fairy tale will end.
But it’s an incredible story so far.
How does someone else seeing your struggle change the way you react/ respond to it?
Upcoming Tiny Spark:
Monday, January 14th