Perhaps you thought that girls were the only ones smitten by fairy tales as they grew up. But I would be at least one exception to that. I adored these beautiful, industrious, hopeful, creative, and precious young women who gave their best in truly brutal situations. It broke my heart to think that anyone could be so cruel to them, and I wanted to be able to step in and bring justice.
I wanted to be the prince who could see past a room full of princesses and notice the girl who felt out of place, who was as sincere and genuine as her heart of gold. I wanted to be the one who could gift Belle a library of books, and lay down his life for the one he loved. I wanted to be the one who would persevere through a thicket of evil enchanted thorns to place a tender kiss on the one who had slept for a hundred years.
But as I grew up in the abusive home that I did, seeing the results of toxic masculinity, it shifted to feel like something I was trying to become worthy of, that relationship with a worthy woman. I formed a belief that men were dangerous and damaging, and I didn’t want to be that. So I was trying to become worthy of a wife, to prove I could be good. When things in my twenties didn’t work out in several relationships, I felt like I was being rejected from that blessing, and that others were worthy and I was not. It became more and more painful.
But over the last couple of years I’ve come to understand how the survival patterns I developed growing up in an abusive environment lead me lose myself in a relationship. Because I was trying so hard to be worthy, when I would get into a relationship of any kind that felt significant, I will immediately and completely set myself aside, and become everything the other person wanted or needed. I had done that with my dad out of necessity, and the skill transferred. It took me so long to see I was doing that.
So now I am in a place of focusing on taking care of myself first, building my relationship with me, to know and honor what my needs are above everything else. It’s crazy what hard work that is! But it is so good.
I have resigned myself to the possibility that I will never get married. I am so wealthy in close and dear friendships, I couldn’t be more grateful. Plus, I know what kind of life I want to live and the kind of man I want to be regardless. But as I continue to love, heal, and value myself, there may well come a day when my princess and I will lock eyes and recognize the precious gems we are to each other. She will have been on the same journey, and that’s how we will recognize each other. We will know. And it’ll be just right. Either way, I am living fully, and with great gratitude.