Black Cat

Going not gentle into that middle age.

The Fantasy

Filed under: Self-Image — 3 July 2006 @ 5:47 pm

Nothing can change the past. There is no time machine to take me back and allow me to change my childhood. No person can make up for what I lacked as a child. There is no Prince Charming to sweep me up on his white charger and take me off to a far better life.

When I was a child, there were many things beyond my control. Among the things that were beyond my control were the neuroses that were ingrained in me by my neurotic family. I grew up and looked for a male figure who would love me and approve of me and protect me and guide me in the ways that my father never could.

I married a man at least as damaged as myself. Ah, here is my Prince Charming come to heal my wounds and make up for what I lacked as a child and live with me happily ever after! He was also a wounded bird who couldn’t understand why I wasn’t performing my role properly in his fantasy. He played the role of emotional Abuser who expected that I would take the abuse and yet continue to love him unconditionally. I played the role of Doormat because I needed a Prince Charming.

My fantasy: As long as he didn’t hit me I could tell myself that he really loved me, he just had difficulty saying so. Although there were some kicks under the table at a restaurant that I pretended didn’t happen. And he would (could?) only put his arms around me after he had insulted me to the point where I dissolved into tears. And I pretended that he didn’t look triumphant after he had “scored” by insulting me and making me feel like shit. I continued to maintain my fantasy for several years, until the contrast between my fantasy of Prince Charming and the reality of Abuser could no longer be ignored.

My choices: if I continued maintaining my fantasy against the overwhelming evidence of reality, I was going to have to part from reality completely – I saw myself about to have a nervous breakdown. Or, I could choose reality and accept that this person was so damaged that he could not change, and I could leave and look for a better (and more realistic) life.

I chose reality, left the marriage, and spent the next several years trying to heal myself and learn what I had done wrong to get myself into this situation in the first place so that it would never happen again.

My present husband is not a Prince Charming. He’s a nice man (a sweetie, really!), and I am grateful every day that he is in my life. He doesn’t play Abuser and I don’t play Doormat. He is my friend, and I am his. We have somehow come to accept our own and each other’s neuroses as well as good points, and we both agree that we are much better and happier persons after 28 years of being together.

This blog entry is inspired by a friend of mine who has been angry for the last 12 years or so that her husband isn’t Prince Charming, that he wanted to live here in his native Germany instead of in her native country, that her children require parenting themselves instead of providing parenting for her, that her German in-laws are so – well, German, that no one has consented to play the roles she requires to maintain her fantasy. I have seen signs that she is finally ready to allow that her husband isn’t the Prince Charming she has been trying to force him to be for 12 years, but it appears at the moment that she has no other way to relate to him. She hasn’t been trying to become friends with him for the last 12 years. He is a stranger to her. I really hope she can begin to heal the anger and pain from her childhood, so that she can begin to heal the anger and pain she has visited on her family for not playing their “proper” roles in her fantasy. I care because I see so much of myself in her. But I am not her Prince Charming either. She’s an adult. She has to live her own life.

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