Yesterday I ran down to the yoga class at my office thinking I might be late.  Instead everyone was waiting in the hallway, including my teacher.  The room was locked and no one had the key.   The woman who coordinates the class had put a call into housekeeping but the minutes dragged by.  I made a joke about this being our yoga for the day, this lesson in patience and non-attachment.  Why were we so attached to our room?  We could do it in the hallway, even if it would be a bit loud.  We had all rolled out our mats and were  getting ready to start when the key finally arrived.

Yoga was something I desperately needed last night.  I needed to practice letting go, something that is so much easier to do on the mat.  See I have been quite cranky now for the last week or so.  Its a mood that is not promising on lifting any time soon.   And as I rolled out my mat last night I had to chuckle about my own comments about attachment.  Because if I am honest my crankiness is all about my own refusal to let go of my latest attachment.

Over the last few years, I learned all about non-attachment when I realized that I had to let go of the story that I had written for myself.  The story that went like this:  Girl meets Boy.  Boy falls in love with Girl.  Girl and Boy get married, buy a house, have a  Child and stay together forever.  Girl and Boy work through their problems like champs and figure out how to make it work and live happily ever after.  Wow.  Was I ever attached to that story.  I had planned on riding it all the way home to my grave.  Letting it go was almost as hard as actually letting Juan go.

The experience of letting it go was transformative.   I felt so brave and like an adventurer woman willing to just rely on faith.  But, I have come to learn that while letting go of that one, I secretly attached to another fairy tale.  This one goes like this:  Girl survives heartbreaking loss and learns to make it on her own.  She nobly walks a hard road, learning to breathe and take each day as it comes.  She walks this road, defeating fear, and realizes that it all happens for a reason.   She learns to appreciate the journey and not to question why she was set on it. That reason becomes clear (she is so smugly Buddhist in her non-attachment to the specific result) as  she rounds the corner and finally arrives at her own Happily Ever After.

Its the Happily Ever After part that is getting to me.  I am really attached to the notion that it is all going to work out exactly right.  I am going to fall head over heels in love with a man who will sweep me off my feet, or my true calling will emerge or I will finally get successful at cleaning the house.  That it will all make sense to me and I will say, “yes–no wonder I had to go through what I went through–How else could I have landed here?”

I have been so angry at the Universe for failing to deliver my happily ever after in a timely fashion.  I have been angry that others I love are having to wait far too long for theirs.  And I am angry because its dawning on me that it never gets delivered.  People suffer.  Then there is joy.  Then they go through different hard times.  Life never really gets better or worse, it just presents different challenges and obstacles–some easier to clear than others.  People get sick, people die, people break each others hearts, people fall in love, people get better and we all keep trudging along on a road to nowhere–no castles and happily ever after in sight.

This all makes so much sense to my 38 year old wise woman.  But my inner 8 year old, the one who was counting on it all someday getting better and coming together for a reason is struggling with bitter loss–the loss of the fairytale that kept her marching on on the dreariest of days.

I want to believe that the pain I have felt is just the cost of something better–that it will be exchanged for something beautiful at some later juncture, but I am coming to realize it doesn’t work like that. I want to believe that it is all going to be worth it one day when I pull into the land of Happily Ever After but I am realizing that no such country exists.  It is a mythical city in the fog that has inspired, confused and driven many a traveler to drink.  No road leads there.

But the road is worth traveling anyway, or at least that is what I am told.  Seems I have a lot of work to do these coming weeks to let go of fairy tales.

5 Responses to “On Fairytale Endings”

  1. Jena Says:

    Or no work at all, but to continue doing exactly this: Writing about it, noticing it, and being gentle with yourself all the while.

    With love to you at this and every juncture, Meg.

    xo Jena

  2. bella Says:

    This is phenomenal, both the truth in your words and your way with words.
    I was so struck by what you said about letting go of the story being just as hard as letting go of him. So true.
    And then this, the exchange of story, that thought the happily ever after would look different it would still be there.
    When really, as you said here, it just happens, comes and goes, never static, never “arriving”.
    I will be returning to your words here often.
    Thank-you for being so honest with yourself, allowing me to learn, and to just be here with you, in this moment.
    Love to you.

  3. Kara aka Mother Henna Says:

    Wow. I so get this, Meg. For me, the fairy tale was that someday I get “successful enough” that I’m finally “all grown up” and living my “real life”. No one told me that really it is just all transition, transcendence, transformation, constantly, and we never “get there” and the only constant is change and THAT IS living life. Not to mention that pesky fact of mortality. Ugh. Seriously? This is it? Oh. My. Gawd. Well, okay then. 🙂

    So I seem to bounce back and forth between aiming for peaceful and being angry — both being equally valid experiences — and realizing that maybe it’s closer to the point to just BE present with whatever is in the moment — peace or anger or any of the stuff inbetween the two.

    Thank you for reminding me of the moment. Love that you all rolled out your mats to do yoga in the hallway! Brilliant. Thank you for exploring all this unabashedly with yourself — the mirrors you are holding up are treasures I don’t take for granted. And you know, if your 8 year old ever wants a partner in stomping around, I’ll find the nearest puddle with you!


  4. Jen Ballantyne Says:

    You’ve done it again Meg, written so amazingly, so insightfully and so truthfully. I LOVE this post, even as it makes me sad because I still have that inner 8 year old inside me wishing for happy endings too. Oh gosh who am I kidding my 39 year old self is wishing for happy endings for everybody, still I know it doesn’t always happen, we just have to enjoy and recognize the good moments and cling to the fact that there will be more of them. Love you my friend, you write so very beautifully. Take care Jen xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  5. GreenishLady Says:

    So beautifully written, and so honest, so bone-deep true that we have these stories. I’ve been realising this week how I’ve fooled myself with my own versions of what happened in my life. But the ending isn’t bothering me now so much. I’m enjoying the journey, the moment, the now – for now at least!

    thanks for sharing this.