Friday, April 20, 2012
Who shattered Cinderella’s glass slipper?
If you believe in happy endings STOP READING NOW, because this fairy tale does not have a happy ending.
We all know the first part of Cinderella’s story. She was raised with her step-mother and steps sisters who treated her poorly. In fact, they often made her feel inferior to them and treated her like a servant. Combined with the loss of her father, Cinderella struggled with her low self-esteem. Nonetheless, despite her home life, she tried to maintain a cheerful disposition and always dreamed of a kinder, gentler world. Then, one day something much unexpected happened, the Prince stopped by her home asking for water. He was so impressed with her hospitality that he invited the family to the King's Ball. It was a special honor to be invited because it was said that the Prince would select a bride from the fair maidens who attended the Ball.
Cinderella so wanted to go to the King's Ball despite her step-mother’s objections. So, she wished and wished until her Fairy Godmother appeared and granted her wish. At the Ball Cinderella was stunning and graceful. She caught the Prince's attention and shared a dance with him. It was love at first sight for them both. They were over joyed until the clock stuck twelve and Cinderella dashed away into the night before the Fairy Godmother’s spell was broken. She did, however, leave behind a glass slipper – one unique shoe.
The next day, the Prince launched a full blown search for the mysterious girl who stole his heart and escaped his grasp. Throughout the kingdom, he traveled trying the shoe on every fair maiden. He had no luck finding a fit until he arrived at Cinderella’s home. Despite the step-mother’s desire to hide Cinderella, she appeared with fresh water for the prince. He demanded that she try the shoe on and what do you know, it fits! It was the answer to all of Cinderella’s prayers. She was rescued from her intolerable situation and rushed away to the Prince’s castle where she and the Prince are quickly married. And we are told that they lived happily ever after.
Well, that’s where the storybook ends. What happens next will surprise you because you never heard the rest of the story.
In the days, weeks and months that followed, Cinderella’s relationships and disposition gradually changed. She grew distant from her family and friends. After constant reminders from the Prince, “your best friends were rodents and your family didn’t appreciate you like I do.” He often explained, “You are with me now and that makes you special. Can’t you see how special you are to me? Surely, you knew these changes would need to occur when you became my Princess?” Then, one day, when Cinderella was feeling home sick, the Prince, in a fit of rage, destroyed her special belongings. “These common rags are unacceptable for my Princess,” exclaimed the Prince. As he breaks the glass slipper, he adds, “And who wears glass slippers, this is so impractical! A Princess should look like this…, wear this…, walk more like this... and only speak when spoken to because...” Cinderella was both shocked and embarrassed by his outburst in front of the King’s court. She felt sadden by the loss of her things and humiliated by his public display but she did not dare object to such a powerful man.
In the days that followed, she stopped pushing back. She just wore whatever he said that she should wear. She spent her free time as he demanded. She gave up the things that she previously enjoyed for the hobbies and social events that were deemed appropriate by the Prince. Even when he monitored her every decision and move, she did not challenge his justification “… it is for your own protection, of course.”
At first, Cinderella had been delighted to have so much attention, especially from a Prince. She knew that she was fortunate that he had hand-picked her. How special to be chosen from the kingdom of women to be his bride. Indeed, she was lucky to have him and should not complain, given her previous station in life. But over time, she began to feel isolated and overly scrutinized by the prince’s attention. She doubted her ability to select her own clothes, to eat the right foods, to say the right things, to act appropriately, and etc. He quickly controlled everything about her day to day life. In fact, she was constantly reminded that her total focus should be on pleasing the Prince – the man who would someday become King.
So, why wasn’t she happy being the Princess? Why did she feel trapped by all the rules? Why couldn’t she find joy in the treasures all around her? What was wrong with her? There were warning signs [shown in red] throughout her relationship which were ignored. Sadly, she didn’t know how to reach out for help and who to tell how she really felt. Surely, she could not reach out to the family and friends that she had been cut off from. She couldn’t confide in his friends because they had his best interest in mind. At last, what was sweet Cinderella to do?
Without intervention from family and friends, Cinderella silently waited for her Fairy Godmother to return and rescue her. Do you know someone who is waiting to be rescued? Like many teens in unhealthy relationships, Cinderella’s most challenging times were never spoken about. Silence and fear were the biggest factors that prevented her full story from being heard. There are thousands of teens in disturbing relationships that don’t know where to turn or what steps to take to end the relationship. That’s why it is critical that we start a conversation and provide opportunities for a graceful exit. We must do something before the crisis gets worst. More importantly, let’s educate the tweens and teens before the drama ever begins. Let teach them how to build healthy relationships and how to ask for help if they find themselves in an abusive relationship. Let's give them the knowledge and power to have control over their own lives.
You may very well be someone’s Fairy Godmother now? She may be wondering why you have not come forward to rescue her as you have done before. While, life may not be a fairy tale, happy endings are possible. Just ask me.