Every fairy tale worthy of the name ends the same way, Happily Ever After. I really wonder, though, if Cinderella, Snow-white, the Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel all really lived a happy marriage for the rest of their lives. We never get to know how they lived, what happened after they married Prince Charming.
Women are dreamers by nature. We dream and day-dream about our Prince Charming from a very early age. Fairy tales are the first visual (ah the power of Disney!) and metaphorical example of relationships children –dangerously – get in contact with. They provide the idea of the female role: a victim who is in a sad and dangerous situation and can only be rescued by a handsome prince. He will even fight fire spewing dragons with his bare hands to save her and protect her, driven by the power of his love. It’s extreme love that makes you do the craziest things.
We seem to be dreaming of chivalric romance all the time, we don’t want any ordinary man, we want an adventurous and brave one, we want passion, a man that can do crazy things for us, make our heart beat fast. This is the message fairy tales, as well as tv, cinema, music and all other media provide.
Many women in their 20s, 30s and even 40s are still waiting for that Prince, puzzled he hasn’t yet shown up to rescue them, obsessing that he will show up eventually and make everything Happily Ever After.
As women of the second decade of the 21st century we should know that ‘Happily Ever After marriage’ does not exist. Even the healthiest relationships have ups and down. Nowadays far too many relationships end up like real nightmares. The one that saved you once, the one that did something crazy for you, may turn out to be paranoid, manipulative, controlling – often very subtly – and keep you captive in the relationship. For some reason you feel it is your duty and your mission to obey and second him, thinking the power of Love will change him. But Happily Ever After will not come.
After wanting that Prince for so long, convinced he has finally come to the rescue, a lot of women are ready to forgive and endure frustration and humiliation, in the name of love. Insane acts seem to be part of the profile of Prince Charming after all. He is your hero, he knows, and will often brag about how he saved you, what poor miserable thing you were before you met him. You not being miserable depends on being with him.
He’s charming – that’s one reason you fell in love with him, loves all eyes on him, he has followers and supporters (insecure and unhappy people that would love to be as narcissistic as he is); anything that happens that you don’t like, never happened or it is you being your usual stupid self; he re-writes history to tell it the way that pleases him and to make people believe the lies he is living.
Crazy love sounds like a great thing in words, but not when crazy means abusing and non-respectful, not when crazy acts offend, insult, humiliate and hurt. Not when they become insane beyond all parameters of imagination. Not when being with a Prince Charming means being held isolated and controlled. Not when you have to walk on egg shells not to upset him, when your dignity is crushed (even in public), when your needs and feelings are neglected and sabotaged.
Emotional abuse*, unlike physical violence, can pass unnoticed for a very long time. It becomes part of the routine, it becomes part of normality. The abuser operates very subtly and in secret, slowly mining the self esteem of the other to make her feel the bad one, stupid, inadequate. It alters the victim’s sense of reality. It is hard for a victim of emotional abuse to recognize how serious the situation is (and accept the term ‘abuse’ as part of her life). It might take years for her to take conscience of what is really going on. Abusive acts might be so subtle that no one else will ever become aware of the on-going situation. Yet, the victim of emotional abuse is living a nightmare. Still the victim of emotional abuse keeps on justifying those same acts (justifying her reality). So low is the self esteem of the abused, that she will struggle to admit to herself that she is not responsible for such disrespectful behaviour. She is in such need for love and fears being abandoned (yes by her torturer) that she will endure the pain that goes with it. She has become numb to the violence.
Emotional abuse is a crime.
No fairy tale tells the story of how a princess managed to leave her abusing prince, despite the economic difficulties, despite the religious pressure and cultural believes, but you can write this story yourself: gain conscience of what love is and love isn’t (despite the apology and forgiveness that follow every attack, he feels no remorse); realize you have been abused and don’t deserve being abused; seek help, you are not supposed to do this alone; leave; get the abuser out of your head. Never go back to the victim role. It will finally be Happily Ever After.
*Emotional Abuse is NOT a prerogative of men, I do apologize for depicting the male abuser scenario only. I have known both male and female narcissistic abusers in my life. This blogpost just came from deep in my heart and is dedicated to someone I love. It takes time to heal.