Fairy tales were required reading and I bought into the idea of “Prince Charming” at a young age. Neither represented reality and it felt so good to be brought into this perfect world where strangers sank deeply in love and always lived happily after. Driven by my imagination, I envisioned being swept off my feet and being loved so thoroughly that I am awakened from the deepest of slumbers with the simplest of kisses. Human relationships are far more complex than storybook affection.
At 24 years old, my upper lip was still marked with dried formula. What did I know about life and love other than the examples imagined on paper? Well, I did know dysfunction and we became close friends. Life happens, as it tends to, and we often grab on to the hand nearest us to keep us from drowning. He was supposed to save me, but I think I became an anchor and pulled us into deep water instead.
I didn’t understand what trauma was. I didn’t understand that I was even suffering from trauma until recently. And because I didn’t understand what I was going through, I hadn’t the slightest idea how to navigate my life around and through it. I needed emotional support and truth-be-told, I don’t think that could’ve materialized in a lover. Not yet. But that’s what we are taught, to pack our bags and leave them at the doorstep of the next person, to have them unpack it. Half the time, we don’t even know what we’ve packed, what we’re even carrying because it’s folded so neatly and tightly among all the other miscellaneous contraband.
So love, the idea of love, became a band-aid. It was flesh-tone, but not the right shade. Everything that contradicted the fairy tale, lifted the adhesive. Removed some of the scab. Deepened the wound. It wasn’t the right shade solely because it didn’t adhere to the fantasy in my mind, but because the depth of our affection was not at the same capacity nor was it rooted in a strong foundation. I blamed him for not being able to heal me properly, for throwing me a life jacket but not inflating it for me. That was unfair of me.
The fantastic part about my maturation is that I’ve become increasingly introspective and I hold myself accountable for my life. I’ve had to teach myself to remove the crutch of emotional co-dependence or at least to lighten the grip. It’s a daily task picking out the thorns after falling into the rosebush we call relationships but I pick them out on my own and I’m on the hunt for honey to seal the damage.