by Ron Vitale
Sleeping beauty, Snow White and Cinderella are all characters who are saved by men and then find true happiness. That makes me sick. As a father of two children, I do not wish for my kids to grow up thinking that someone else can save you and that if you only find the right person you'll then find happiness.
The good news is that I not only have some personal experience to share with them as they get older, but I'm hoping that my Cinderella's Secret Diaries series will be examples for not only them but others as well. The secret to finding happiness is pretty straightforward: You need to love yourself.
The Road to Happiness
I've had readers ask me: "Why does Cinderella in your books make such bad decisions?" And for me, the answer is easy. I wanted to have a flawed heroine. Cinderella doesn't always do what is good for her and sometimes makes decisions that are downright wrong. She tries really hard, but she's not found her way yet and that's why I write my books. I want to show the journey that Cinderella is on and how she gets to a better place.
When I was young, I started dating and had no clue about how to act or what exactly I needed to do to be happy in a relationship. Unfortunately, my family background didn't help. I did what I thought right and opened my heart to the first girl who showed an interest in me and thought we'd get married (yes, I was pretty naive back then).
Instead of building up my own character, I'd tried to rescue the girl I was in love by listening to her problems with her Aunt and how her mother had died from breast cancer. I threw all my energy into trying to rescue her and, yes, you guessed it, our relationship fell apart about 9 months in. She lost interest in me and left me. I became angry and hurt and couldn't figure out why she had abandoned me. Ah, to look back and see how clueless I was. . . .
Taking Care of Yourself
The Prince always saves the Princess, right? What do you do when everything starts falling apart and you realize that life is not like a fairy tale?
After I figured out that in order to be truly present in a relationship, I needed to first be there for myself, everything all fell into place. How could I love another if I hadn't spent the time to learn who I was, to nurture myself and to take care of my own needs? There was a moment in life in which I realized that I started repeating the same patterns in my love relationships. They would start well enough and then fall apart.
I needed to change. Not only did I need to take care of myself but I also needed to choose to be with a person who was able to be present in a relationship. Two damaged people do not make one whole person. To be present in a relationship, I continually need to be aware of what makes me tick and happy. Figuring that out took years of counseling, ACOA, making friends, failing in love relationships and lots of self-help book reading.
Now I've learned what helps me to grow and to be healthy:
- When I'm hungry and thirsty, I need to eat and drink.
- When tired, sleep.
- Writing, reading and listening to loud music (The Beatles preferably), helps me deal with stress.
- Running aids me in solving problems (or in writing books).
- Talk and share my feelings with my closest friends to help me with problems.
Finding True Love
None of this is rocket science. But to be fully present as a partner, and to be in a love relationship, takes a lot of work. Many don't want to hear this. It's a lot easier to believe the fairy tale: Boy meets girl and they fall in love and live happily ever after. Yet let's be honest: 40-50% of marriages fail. Love, marriage and all that encompasses is one of the most complicated and rewarding journeys I've ever experienced in my life.
I've decided to write my books to talk about love and the secret to finding love, but in a different way. Cinderella doesn't need to be rescued by the Prince. That's not what I'm trying to get at. Instead, I hope my readers get to see the full picture and go on a wild ride with Cinderella as she's learning her way. What do you think? Please leave a comment by rolling your mouse over the cartoon bubble icon below and clicking on "post a comment."
Ron Vitale is the author of the dark fantasy series Cinderella's Secret Diaries who hopes that his children will grow up to find their own voices and not allow others to dictate who and what they can be.