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I am Rapunzel. Trapped in a tower of my own making. This was the reality that met me this morning upon waking. I walked into a day pregnant with thought.
I’ll bet the original Rapunzel story by the Brothers Grimm is full of sexual undertones: the virgin Rapunzel, the symbolism of the amazing hair, the rescue by a prince, Rapunzel’s fear of the world and simultaneous longing to explore it. I’m not going to go to any of these places.
It doesn’t matter how the ideas were originally conceived. What matters is what am I going to do with them now.
I’d created a tower built of fear. It separated me from the rest of the world. I have longed to return to it so much so that it affects the tenor of my day. This morning the fiction of all this struck me in a new and disturbing way. Some thing must change. I must change. What I’ve believed has not been based on truth. It’s been a fairy tale, a tale that no longer serves me.
Once upon a time, the tale did serve me. It provided a level of comfort. It gave me a story and a plot line to follow. It made order out of chaos. It imbued a meaning to my life that up to then had felt lacking. It is a tale I have outgrown. It no longer contains my life. It restricts it.
The awareness of being Rapunzel weighed heavily, at first. I didn’t know what to do with this knowledge. I felt overwhelmed, uncertain. The confusion I felt gradually gave birth to a bigger idea: the fairy tales of my life have been built out of excuses. These excuses were the stones of the tower. They were intended to keep me safe but in time they became my prison.
Fairy tales point to greater truths. Underneath the fantasy lie archetypes that helped define the realities of human existence. They have a great purpose. Fairy tales teach us what it means to be human. They show us the many faces of evil. They emphasize the triumph of love. From them we learn what matters most.
And, yet, I can’t forget that these are tales written by adults to educate or entertain children. They are fraught with wishful thinking. They give evil a face. Experience has taught me that evil doesn’t always wear one. Fairy tales romanticize love. I have tried to believe that this romantic love is desirable. Such love rarely survives in the real world. I’ve held on to the fairy tales in my life to protect me from what I didn’t want to accept.
The fiction has appealed to me but it has never done a good job of capturing the essence of my life. Today, I understood that my life can never be defined by a fairy tale no matter how much I might want it to be. The tower is coming down stone by stone. I am Rapunzel no longer. It’s time to write my own story.