I love a good old fashioned fairytale, me. Maidens with great hair and pretty dresses. Knights with square-jaws lepping around on trusty steeds. Bit of a romantic sing-song thrown in for good measure, possibly a talking mouse here and there. It’s a recipe for a Happy Ever After as far as I’m concerned. Unhappy girl meets boy, boy kisses girl and makes her happy. Job done. Right?
When you have a big gap where your mid-to-late 20’s should have been. When you spend the years in isolation that other people dedicate to their careers, or world travel, or whatever they fancy really- you begin to foster these ideas about how the world should treat you in order to make up for it. I used to think I would find a man who would know. Who would just know without me telling him what it had actually been like. What it took to get here. What it cost me. What I had done alone. That he’d pick me up and just take it all from me. Just take it for a while. Just make it all a bit better, a bit easier. That I’d be able to lean on him and he’d be strong enough to take the weight of it all.
He didn’t show obviously. Thank god. If he had then I’d never have learned how to be accountable. Responsible for my own emotional well-being. I’d never have figured out for myself that if there is no one to lean on then the only other available option is to become consistently balanced all by myself. I would have just kept leaning-and what happens to a person that leans but has nothing to lean on? They fall. Hard.
For the most part we seem to take it for granted that we should be able to physically care for ourselves. It’s a pretty horrible feeling when we can’t. It feels very wrong actually. It feels against the natural order of things. We are all taught how to physically care for ourselves, it’s a huge part of life. Anyone who has the physical capacity to take care of themselves but doesn’t is frowned upon massively by our society. We have talk-shows and newspaper column inches dedicated to these people and we verbally lambast them daily. Daily our outrage is vented at those we feel we are providing for because they don’t want to provide for themselves financially or materially. So why doesn’t it feel just as wrong to rely on someone else to care for us emotionally?
Where are the programmes dedicated to those of us who want someone to make us feel better? To buoy us up emotionally and be solely responsible for making us feel good. Make us feel attractive or worthy of love? It’s a very Big Ask to hold another person responsible for how we feel. It takes way more effort than asking them to dress or feed us. And unlike both of those tasks it’s impossible anyway. No one can actually make us feel anything. Feelings are internal things-not handed to us by anyone standing on the outside.
It’s nice to love someone and to have them love us back-if it’s an added extra to the love we have already found for ourselves. People do need people.We don’t exist well in isolation. If we did then those of us who spent years housebound would have had a whale of a time. But can we really fully enjoy a person if they are our emotional caretaker? If we are afraid of being let down or displeased by their behaviour? Really? Love is a truly wonderful feeling-it’s the concept of caring I find hard to swallow. It’s a dangerous thing as far as I am concerned. Love feels like a healthy state of being. Something that comes from us and can be directed any which way we choose. Needing someone to care for, or wanting someone to take care of us comes from a place of filling an internal emptiness. And since no one can have our emotional wellbeing as their top priority 24/7, an attitude like this is going to lead to disappointment. It has to, it’s inevitable
I don’t doubt the world is full of Knights. That people do find and embark on wonderful relationships every day. It’s part of the journey that is so worthwhile- when we are well enough to do so physically. I just think it saves a lot of trouble all round if we make sure we are emotionally as ready as possible too. Otherwise we are just using them to fill a void. And no one likes being used. It feels much nicer to create a lovely life for ourselves, a life full of things that excite and inspire us-then ask a person to be a part of the fullness of it.
The Knight will find you. He will. Everyone is deserving of a fairy-tale ending. Just make sure you’ve rescued yourself first. And when he does turn up, before you leap into his arms? Take a breath. Take a pause. Check your balance.