As a child I was obsessed with fairy tales. I had a beautiful illustrated book I bought from a jumble sale my grandmother had taken me to when I was about six. It’s really what got me interested in drawing. It was a 1930’s children’s hardback book of Sleeping Beauty with a towering castle and a golden haired princess. Every page had a new illustration along the edge as the story unfolded.
Just lately my mind isn’t dealing with life too well. For the last two nights I have woken in a panic and my tinnitus has been more noticeable. My thoughts have returned to my childhood again. Don’t get me wrong, in comparison to some childhood’s mine was poor, but okay. Father worked full-time my mother was at home. There was food on the table, we were clothed, had a roof over our head, and there was no alcohol, drugs or abuse. Our grandmother lived next door, and she was always a big part of our lives. Both my father and mother were poorly educated, especially my mother who had learning difficulties, and poor social skills.
So what’s the problem?
Having come from a reasonable stable background with three adults in your life you would think you would be able to cope with life. Yet here I am, seeming to never have been given the right tools to deal with the realities of life. Yesterday, while out walking a thought hit me. Fairy tales are in reality a metaphor. They are full of symbolism, if you just read between the lines. Oh yes, I understand the tales I read as a child have been cleaned up and sterilised. After all they are known as the Grimm tales not just because of the Brothers Grimm who originally collected the tales and published them in 1812.
For me, as a child I realised quite early on that prince charming was a metaphor for the unattainable and there so too, the Happy Ever After bit. The Fairy God Mother in the tales never really comes through for the heroine of the stories. No waving of a magic wand would guarantee a happy ever after either. My God mother, like my parents and grandmother had her flaws, too. I always called her my fairy god mother. She would correct me and say she wasn’t. Years later, I understood her resentment at my childish name for her. Her bitterness was directed at her mother, brother and husband until it boiled over and swallowed her up. She took great pleasure in destroying our grandmother’s image in our eyes. We all have issues, which haunt our early mornings and colour our lives.
Back to my sleeping beauty book. I never really related to the princess’s beauty. I was thin, bony, and at 10 years old, I was raped, so no longer pure. This lack of purity stopped me from seeing anything beautiful in myself, so no white wedding for me. I saw only my faults and built a wall of roses around myself so others didn’t see my flaws and it kept them away, too. After my rape, my grandmother told me not to speak about it again, no police were involved, so it could be kept quiet. (Thanks to the #me too movement I can speak out) I can’t think about it, or resolve what happened to me. The two young men involved were never caught, or answered for what they did. I always blamed myself. If I had stayed in the garden, and not wandered off to explore the fields on my own, then it would never have happened. If my mother, grandmother and father could brush it under the carpet and get on with their lives, then so could I. I just locked the event in the castle keep and slept through the rest of my life.
The problem with life, is it has a nasty habit of turning around and biting you back. You move forward believing if you can shut your problems away and build a happy, positive life for yourself, the past can be the past. I didn’t expect to be woken by a prince’s kiss, nor for the wall of roses to turn into thorns. I was scared about having children, because I knew I couldn’t keep them safe. When I met my first husband, I saw for the first time how another family behaved towards each other. The laughter and hugs, and the family get togethers. I thought at first I could really be part of the family, but my ex had other ideas and our marriage soon broke down.
Growing up my family didn’t mix with other families. Apart from seeing my grandmother, and my father’s sister and very occasionally my mother’s side of the family, we had no other contact and never really learnt the skills of socialising with others. I always found it difficult mixing with others because I thought they could see through my painted wall of roses and see my ugly flaws.
Writing has allowed me to express myself and build my confidence. Though, my road through life keeps side-swiping me. Every time something positive happens to make me smile and feel as though my life has been worthwhile from no where a ton of negative bricks rain down on me. I no longer see a bright light shining at the end of a tunnel, but a big black hole that I’m moving towards at high speed. So forgive me, if I don’t get overly excited by my life as I plod along with a black cloud hanging over my head. I’ve decided the best thing for me to do is to bury myself in my writing room, where I can’t upset anyone by saying or doing the wrong thing. I’ll just keep putting the words down, and wait and see what happens next.
Thank you for read this. If you’re going through a tough time, please allow me to reach out and hug you. Keep strong my dear friend. ❤ You’re not alone. ❤