I think it’s one of my big talents that I mess up, so you don’t have to.
Every dungeon-going team has to have a clown, don’t they, who stumbles forward and sets off all the traps, so the group can move forward into the dungeon safely (and somehow the clown avoids being incapacitated simply because they’re goofy and clueless?) well: that would be me.
This is a story about my real-life prince. He told me a thousand ways that he loved me: I didn’t see them. He told me in the most beautiful letter I have ever received, and in the most incredibly thoughtful, perfect gifts. Seriously the jewelry he chose for me is my favorite color, elegant, fun, with an element of playfulness to it- it could have all been tailor made just for me. A lot of thought and heart and a whole heck of a lot of generosity went into the choosing of these gifts. And I won’t even describe (because this is a memory for me alone to cherish) the tenderness in his eyes when he watched me open them and put them on.
I still saw lack. We don’t have this, we don’t have that. We aren’t engaged. We aren’t in Hawaii. (Seriously – I have been a cranky, awful, difficult little princess!)
He patiently addressed my upset. He didn’t tell me I was being an awful little princess.
Instead of being excited for what we have now, and loving the moment we are in and the loving way we are together,
I became the worst version of myself. The Wicked Queen may as well have had my heart stabbed and held hostage in a box; I was lost and deeply sad. He loved me anyway.
Last night I felt a deep well of patience, tenderness, love and honor in him that I tremble in fear to think I could have lost.
Look; he’s not perfect- I’m not putting him on a pedestal. I already did that early on, and he toppled off pretty hard. But he’s still the absolute best man for me and the best example of a good man that I know.
And I nearly threw this away.
How? I’ll tell you, so you can avoid it.
I have a prince. I was very busy trying to turn him back into a frog.
Why? Fear. Past lessons that need to be actively un-learned.
If I fall into lack of self-love, I can’t receive the love he gives – I can’t even see it. Deep down, I don’t feel I deserve it, so I can’t receive it. Self-esteem battered and low from previous relationships, having fallen into a vengeance-minded frog pond of my own, (“well, Fine! If this is what they think I’m worth, If this is how they think I deserve to be treated, then this is how it will be! I won’t eat, I won’t take care of myself, in fact, I won’t be good to myself at all!”) I threw my crown into the deepest, muddiest part of the pond, simply because the frogs I dated treated me, not like a princess, but like a frog. Do you see how this doesn’t work? *Don’t join them in their pond if you wish to marry a king, my dear. If you would marry a King, you must first be a Queen.*
Then when he gives, on some level I actually *fight* him, which manifests itself in the feeling that he’s not giving in exactly the right way or saying the magic exact words, so therefore it isn’t real! It’s somehow evidence that he doesn’t care, just like all the other frogs!
And asking for what I need? Forget it- that’s telling him what to do, and if he didn’t read my mind and think of it himself, it isn’t real. I’ve done that, the inner-wicked-Queen voice insists. I’ve done that! All those frogs I told over and over what I wished for and wanted and what would tell me I was truly loved, and they turned and used those things against me!
And – assuming that he really loves me? Knowing it and being secure in that? Forget it. I can’t assume it, because something in me whispers to me that if I DO, I’m deluding myself and falling in to making excuses, and doing it all for a man again.
A-ha. *There* it is. That’s the answer. Notice that “again.”
This is, I think, the key to frog farming.
In the past, I dated frogs. Frogs that I pretended for a long time were princes. I’d make excuses for their behavior, and I’d stick with them. I’d give myself what I needed in order to “fix” that they didn’t.
(There are needs it is good to take care of for yourself, and needs that absolutely go along with relationship. But that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.)
I’d hang on even though they treated me very badly, because I was proud of my loyalty. I thought eventually they’d see my amazing, loyal heart, and they’d start being kind to me. I thought if I treated them well, they’d learn from my example. I didn’t just join them in the mud- as I’ve said, eventually I helped them, by taking off my own crown and throwing it into the deepest part of the pond.
So here’s the part where I hold up the magic mirror that shows things as they truly are, and I take a good, long, look.
I came into this relationship limping with so many wounds, my princess dress in tatters, it’s a miracle I still have a heart to give.
I saw him for the Honorable, incredible king-to-be that he is. I took a terrifying chance, and when he asked, I gave him all my heart. (With a moment of second-thought near running away, thinking for a second I was in a dragon cave after all. But that is a story for another time 😉 )
Yes, the wonderful man I am with says stupid things sometimes. Things that hurt my feelings. He also apologizes and makes amends. I took those human mistakes as signs he was a frog, and I refused to let him prove otherwise. He is NOT a frog like those others, but for a long time, I held on to the memory of the warning signs because I thought I was protecting myself.
“I won’t make excuses for him! See that thing he said, and that one, too!”
The problem is that over time, someone’s behavior and choices WILL show who they are. Consistently! Only I wasn’t seeing it. Not all the time. Yes, I appreciated him, but I still hung on to every single “proof” I could find that he was like the others. My crown was still in the mud, and I kept trying to kiss him back into being a frog.
Because somehow, that would make me safe?
No. Denying myself love, sabotaging it and making it into the hurtful dragon cave, frog-pond trap I had always experienced “love” to be, did *not* make me safe.
The human brain likes to predict… in fact it is important that it learns to do so, as it is a “supercomputer” that still can’t store enough, so it develops shortcuts and memorizes patterns.
Then it can see a pattern, label it, and utilize most of its resources for synthesizing new information it encounters that doesn’t fit patterns.
The problem is, sometimes it will get pretty shifty about trying to MAKE things fit patterns it recognizes, so it can move on. It’s like a lazy Mycroft Holmes, in love with its old filing system.
So rather than allow me to have THE love I have been looking all my life for, this Holmes of mine that sits in his library in his old dressing gown and worn slippers would rather turn the new love into the old relationships that hurt and failed me.
To keep things just as they used to be.
So. This is all to say: I messed up, now you don’t have to.
Reclaim your crown. Clean the mud off, put it back on, straighten it, and know you deserve love- the love you have always given others.
See him for who he really is; see him without fear-lenses clouding your vision.
It’s a fine line. Test your love, observe and see his choices, but once you’ve found out that he’s truly honorable, *don’t bloody turn him into a frog.*
Because eventually, even the most loyal and persistent of princes won’t want to live in a mud pond. Welcome him into the palace that is your heart, that you’ve been making ready just for him. If it took him a long, long time to find you, understand that it will be harder to open the doors. The hinges will be stiff – but he worked hard to be here, so you can work hard too.
Believe. Be brave. Re-knight your love. You truly do deserve it.