As young children, we are lead to believe that love is easy. We sit down and watch Disney fairytales that teach us about what love should be and we start to believe that one day we will meet our prince charming and live happily ever after. Unfortunately, as you grow up, you start to realise that this is not the case and that all of those stories were a false sense of reality. Life is annoyingly pretty messy with many ups and downs, and therefore meeting the man of your dreams is difficult and can feel unimaginable and virtually impossible. Truth be told, it really is not our fault that we have gone through life naively thinking that our Prince Charming would return our lost slipper, or that we would have that movie moment where we drop our books and look up to see him come to our aid.
My first crush on a boy was when I was about seven! It had me feeling as if I were Cinderella, and I believed that I was in love (or at least my naive young self-thought I knew what love was!!!) but as I grew up and experienced pain and heartbreak I began to find myself questioning all of those romantic films and books asking ‘can you really live happily ever after? Does it even exist?’
I grew up with two parents who absolutely adored each other. Their marriage seemed perfect to me, so naturally, I believed that Disney had got their love stories spot on, as the most beautiful love story was the one that I saw every day between my parents. I used to strut around with such sense of pride that my parents were happily married, as I had heard so many horror stories from fellow friends and classmates of their parents splitting up. To this day I remember a girl telling me in French class of her parents getting divorced and me proudly stating that mine would ‘always stay together and never get divorced.‘ The thought of them not being together was utterly unimaginable and something I would laugh at because I never for one second believed it would actually happen. At the age of eleven, however, it did and my world came crashing down. My parents divorced and I was absolutely heartbroken. For so long I thought that parents were meant to stay together forever and that a ‘happily ever after‘ really did exist, so coming to terms with the fact that the romantic Disney fairytale rarely comes true knocked me sideways.
I am a hopeless romantic. Everyone that knows me, knows how much I love reading a soppy romance novel. The idea of everything working out and being happy forever is a dream of mine, and I am sure I am not the only one out there hoping that life will end up being perfect. I do, however, know the harshness of reality and that I probably won’t be that lucky, I mean who really is? Life is a rollercoaster ride full of highs and lows and even though my parents did not get their happy ending, a part of me still believes that you can live happily ever after, but that it may not be in the way that Disney and romantic novels and films portray it.
The reason for this belief is down to my mother. Having had cancer and gone through a life-changing double mastectomy, my beautiful mum never believed any man could love her again. In her eyes, she was deformed and physically unattractive to any man. Life, however, disagreed with her. In 2013 she met a wonderful man named Keith, who knocked her sideways, and the mum that I had seen so unhappy for so many years, who was afraid of love, fell head over heels. The most amazing thing was that this man loved her unconditionally, and what’s more, this love came from mum just being herself. Her fun and charismatic personality was what he loved and her scars from her mastectomy, he told her is what he loved most. He explained that they showed her resilience and strength to fight back at life and told her how amazing she was (and there is no argument from me here because she really was incredible and the strongest and most beautiful person that I have ever met!)
Keith and mum were together until the day she died in June 2015. In my opinion, he was the love of her life. They did not marry, but he took her to so many amazing places that she had always dreamed of visiting and showed her that she could fall in love again. I will always be grateful to him for that because she deserved to have someone show her that she was worthy of being loved. He made her feel beautiful, made her smile again and was there with her until the very end. Keith gave her her happily ever after.
Ultimately finding a muscley, chiselled prince charming is not what is important and that is what I wish I had learnt at a much younger age, as I certainly would have saved myself a lot of heartaches!!! The best Disney movie that touches on this is Beauty and the Beast when Belle realises in the song ‘Something There’ that she doesn’t need a Prince Charming and also that she doesn’t want one! ‘True that he’s no Prince Charming But there’s something in him that I simply didn’t see.’ Someone who is interesting, funny and above all, who loves you for who you are and who will drop anything for you is the man that we should all be seeking.
The thing is, we are all going to age. We cannot escape old age and the reality is that wrinkles and grey hair will appear on us all whether we like it or not! What matters most is being able to be with that person who can hold your hand and be your best friend, and who is also strong enough to stick with you through thick and thin. I think that that makes far more of a Prince Charming than the hunky man who thinks one wink and a sparkly smile will bring you happiness! My belief is that happily ever after does exist, but just not like the movies show. Women today have an unrealistic sense of what a happily ever after should be. Our own versions are far more complicated, but that does not mean that they cannot be as romantic or amazing, it simply means that you have found the person who will fight through life with you like Keith did for my mum, and really isn’t that far more amazing? I certainly think so!