I once believed love worked like this: Prince Charming would appear in the horizon on his horse, extend his hand for me to grab and after taking me to his kingdom, we'd live happily ever after.
But that was before I read Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid. In this version, after learning that the prince for whom she'd traded her voice for a pair of legs is marrying someone else in the morning, her sisters give her a jeweled knife to stab the prince in the heart while he slept. It would break the spell, they told her, allowing the Little Mermaid to return to the sea and be reunited with her family. But the moment she gazes upon her sweet prince's face as he sleeps, she drops the knife and accepts her fate, dissolving into the foam of the sea while the prince lives happily ever... with someone else.
Far from the love story Disney has made it out to be, isn't it?
And so growing up, I had these two versions of love in my head. On one hand, Prince Charming was going to sweep me off my feet and we'd live happily ever after, and on the other, he'd leave me for someone else.
It didn't help that my parents divorced when I was six and so the only thing I ever knew was of two people who couldn't stop blaming each other for the breakdown of their marriage. And true to form, my father ended up with another woman so The Little Mermaid proved my suspicions right.
The prince really does end up with someone else.
And as I fell in love with one gorgeous boy after another, the story repeated itself. He'd sweep me off my feet and we'd live happily ever after until he'd meet someone prettier and smarter and move on.
And then one day I woke up from the fairy tales that ruled my life. I learned that love is a two-way street and that it's not just Prince Charming who does all the work. I have to do the work, too, most of all, in learning to love myself.
I learned that while some people come into your life and stay, some have to leave, sometimes for the best, allowing me discover that I don't have to wait for a prince to make me happy. I don't have to stab him in the heart to break the spell or turn into sea foam when I can't.
Instead, I've learned to take that jeweled knife and create something beautiful, a walking stick to lean on when times are tough and when the road ahead is long. For lo and behold, there is no horse for me to ride.
But that's okay.
For the journey in loving myself is mine to take on my own. And maybe one day, Prince Charming just might show up and take the journey with me... and this time, stay till the end.
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Fairy Tale (#ModernLove Writing Contest Winner)Short Story
I grew up believing my Prince Charming and I would ride into the sunset and live happily ever after. But that was before I read Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid and learned that sometimes, you don't get what you want. But just maybe, you...