As a young bright-eyed girl, Emily had the promise of a fairy-tale life ahead of her. Born into a faithful Mormon family, she was raised from birth with high ideals and hopeful intentions. Growing up, Emily prepared herself for the day when she would blossom into a beautiful young lady, who would someday meet her wonderful Prince Charming, and together, live out their life in wedded bliss.
In true fairy-tale form, it would happen. On one unsuspecting day, their paths would cross; their eyes would meet, and enchanted by the spell of possibility, both she and her Prince would fall magically in love. As a worthy young lass, this Princess would finally be wed to her Prince, “for time and all eternity” in the Latter Day Saints Temple; her beautiful castle set upon the hill. Then, naturally, both would ride off into the sunset to live happily ever after.
As a youth with these high ideals in the forefront of her mind, Emily dreamed of a grand future. With such promise in her sights, she made conscious choices that would carefully deliver her to this most prized destination.
As a teen, Emily recalls a Young Women’s event called “Temple Bound”, that she, and many young women attended. The classes offered were designed to encourage and prepare these young women for this most sacred step in their lives; marriage, and the importance of keeping high standards in order to be “Temple worthy.” One such class was called “Vuja De.” Unlike Deja Vu, meaning that something’s already happened before, Vuja De meant, that if you keep virtuous thoughts and faithfully plan for this special time in your life, then you will have a special life!
Years passed as Emily cultivated these values that were so important to her. Then, when Emily was twenty-one years old, it finally happened! Emily met her Prince Charming, or so she thought. Ryan was the Mormon ideal; a return missionary, an upstanding member of the church who was obedient to Mormon teachings and ordinances, and… he was chivalrous too!
After a few good dates, falling in love, and a proposal for marriage, Emily, a Princess in her own right, gladly accepted the desire of her handsome Prince to be. Having saved herself for marriage, Emily looked forward to her magical wedding in the Temple, that might as well have been the castle she always dreamed of. She anxiously looked forward to the consummation of their new union, as did he.
The months flew by! After all of the planning, and patiently waiting, that day had finally come for the betrothed to be sealed together in the Bountiful Temple. The wedding was beautiful! Hopes were high, and desire was strong, and with hypothetical fairy-tale music playing in the background, they rode off into the sunset to their honeymoon destination to begin the rest of eternity together!
It was only two weeks later when Emily’s Prince Charming stated his heart-breaking revelation; “I know I love you with my head, but not with my heart!” In that very moment, Emily was stunned! The hypothetical fairy-tale music came to an abrupt halt, as the fairy-tale ended. “Surely he must be joking, right?” was the thought that raced quickly through her head. But despite her disbelief, the expression on his face bore all the seriousness of a full-blown confession that could not be denied.
The dream this young girl had fantasized about all her young life, suddenly began to resemble more of a nightmare! “What happened?” a confused Emily thought. “Wasn’t this supposed to go a different way?” With Ryan’s unexpected jarring words, Emily’s attempt at damage control was instantly put into motion.
First, in a prosecutory reaction, she looked for things, … anything to tell her what was wrong with him? “How did I miss this?” she wondered. Eventually, after much investigation, the prosecution finally turned to her to say, “Emily, what’s wrong with you?” And with this, her downward spiral began.
Filled with guilt and shame about her failing marriage, a hurting Emily tried to fix the problems. As an example, thinking she should have been different than she was, Emily began to twist, bend and contort herself to fit into his world, and his heart. In the process of becoming this “pretzel” person, she conceded to his wishes that she put off her aspirations of attaining a Master’s degree, to accommodate his plans for the future . As her desire to please him increased, she became more needy, and therefore; less attractive to him. This repetitive cycle was fed by the continued abandonment of her own self. As a result, Emily was quickly losing herself in the process.
Emily admits that there were some good times in the 17 months before the marriage collapsed, but it was Ryan’s painful proclamation to her that had now become the background music to their marriage. Constantly haunted by his lack of love for her, Emily’s own feelings of inadequacy began to quickly drain her self-esteem.
In a last ditch effort to save their marriage, Emily tried to get pregnant, but the chances for a baby became more and more remote as all forms of intimacy decreased. In their fifteenth month of marriage, they finally received a wedding gift promised to them early on; a pure-breed Golden Retriever. As a brand new puppy, Bella made them smile, but, despite all the love and cuteness Bella supplied, the marriage was too far gone to restore all that had been lost. The fact was, the dream was over, and so was her marriage! Emily’s Prince Charming walked out, leaving Emily devastated with pain. Then, in the silence of her own soul, a hurt and torn Emily was left alone to begin her grieving process.
Emily thought about what happened. She thought about what might have been. She felt her deepest insecurities, for they were far too obvious now to remain hidden. She wondered what went wrong. She blamed him… but mostly, she blamed herself.
So what did happen in this not-so-much-of-a fairy-tale? What happened to Emily’s “happily ever after” with her Prince?
While, as a child, Emily was impressionable and believed all the fairy-tales stories she had read, heard and seen, certainly she should not be blamed for wanting the highest ideal of perfection. Why would this Princess not want all that could be dreamed of? And, certainly, why would she not deserve it?
The thing is, no matter how perfectly a relationship comes together, how right a situation is or how blessed and magical it is at the time, eventually, this type of idealistic fairy-tale story would have never let love last. Why not? A relationship built on the foundation of a fantasy is completely unsustainable. How could it last? Although idealism is great, it’s simply not realism.
And while it’s great to be raised with good values, it’s important to note that just because we may live our life with high standard and ideals, it doesn’t mean that life won’t serve us “bad” or imperfect situations for us to muddle our way through. As humans, we will all have our share of issues to face, for no one is impervious to life’s experiences.
And, although it is highly admirable that two young people could be so committed to the integrity of their values, so much that they could resist the powerful urges of sexual chemistry, especially at the beginning of a relationship, unintended issues can arise.
Far too many times, a short, non-sexual courtship doesn’t deepen the roots much beyond the sexual part of the relationship. Instead, it serves as fodder for the highly anticipated sexual event to come. For the inexperienced, it is quite easy to confuse the yummy feelings of sexual attraction with the actual feelings of love. And, of course, it is possible that when a relationship has deepened, both can be felt together.
In both Emily and Ryan’s case, their feelings of love were experienced mostly in two areas: Conceptually; in the head as an idea, and sexually; in the brain and body where chemistry lives. But what of the heart? Caring deeply for the soul of another can take time, since the first part of a relationship is spent sifting out the reality from the fantasy. And, although Emily did have some heart-felt love for Ryan at the time, allowing it to deepen any further would have only served to increase her pain.
We’ve all been involved in some form of fairy-tale before; it is our nature. As imaginative creatures, we tend to project the character we want the object of our interest to be, for us, in our chosen story. Then, when the story is rudely interrupted by reality, we think something or someone has changed.
Sorting through the feelings of what love is can be challenging. Whether it’s having a powerful fairy-tale fantasy of love, having the feelings of sexual attraction for someone, or having a deeply rooted caring for another, all of these are very different experiences that can sometimes overlap and blend together. And, because of the impulsive nature of sexual chemistry, I think it’s fair to say that unbridled sexual attraction can be very persuasive and convincing as to appear like something very special is happening at the time, even if it is just a chemical reaction to pheromones.
In hindsight, Emily came to the realization that she was not really in love with this frog, but with the fairy-tale and the Prince in it. Being built on this fantasy of perfect illusion, it is easy to see that it would eventually dissolve into the reality of just two regular people trying to find ways of blending their two very different worlds together.
Eventually, every union has its challenges. To achieve a genuine fairy-tale story worth dreaming about is to build a reality based on the foundation of cooperation, love, patience and commitment of willing partners. This is where the real magic of forming a great relationship begins.
It wasn’t that Emily thought she had always done and said the right things, she admits that she hadn’t, but, she was hoping there was still some room left for working things out; that was not to be. Blinded by her dream, there were a lot of things she wished she would have seen. She wanted the fairy-tale so badly that she didn’t recognize the problems and that he was not the Prince Charming she had made him out to be. From her perspective, she realized that Ryan never wanted to merge his life with her’s, he just wanted to add sex to his.
Forgiving him, for not being the Prince in her fairy-tale story, has been hard. Perhaps the hardest thing about forgiving is; who to forgive?
These days Emily appreciates her life and the fruits that have been born out of her experiences with Ryan. Her positive change didn’t come so much from freeing him from the illusion, but freeing herself so she could move forward.
Currently, Emily is in the process of getting her Master’s degree in Education; a goal that inspires her. She notices her ability to deal with physical and emotional pain has increased considerably. She has matured into a stronger person who knows the value of staying true to herself, even in the presence of someone she may lose because of this. She no longer allows anyone to treat her badly, including herself. Emily has become her own most ardent advocate and champion. Today, she is okay with imperfection as opposed to the perfect fantasy world she once envisioned. She doesn’t want someone perfect anymore, just someone who is perfect for her; a wise distinction.
And, a big perk out of this whole break-up is that she doesn’t have to pretend to like certain things anymore; for instance, going to see “Twilight” at midnight with Ryan’s mother and sisters every time a new sequel opens. Now she can be home in bed, dreaming about real plans for her new life.
Emily loves her freedom and independence now. She has a cat companion named Miss Kitty, and, of course, Bella, the wedding gift of love and cuteness that Ryan left her.