I love fairy tales because they are about transformation. Before anything gets better, they will get worse. Transformation is at the core of the Gospel as John Eldredge reminds us, that’s why we love fairy tales. Cinderella, a slave girl, became a princess, a wooden boy Pinocchio became a real boy, and the frog becomes a handsome prince. Transformation of a butterfly (metamorphosis) makes more sense to me…Starting with an egg, into a crawling caterpillar, then a chrysolite or a cocoon. I call this cocoon – our spiritual womb- it is dark, painful and lonely time. It is where we are tempted to give up, fight back or run back to what we thought was freedom – crawling like a caterpillar on our belly. We must remember that we were meant to fly, to soar like an eagle, born into something beautiful.
I love the story of Cinderella but it also can be discouraging because not all girls have a fairy godmother who can turn a mouse into a Mercedes Benz, a pumpkin into a mansion on the hill, or a lizard into a butler/chauffeur at your beck and call. These endless stories keep young women hoping and waiting for something more coming from outside of themselves when you’ve been carrying it inside of you since birth. We stop growing when we believe some prince will come and take us to live with him in the palace happily ever after known as Cinderella complex.
Colette Cowling first described the Cinderella complex – a woman’s fear of independence… an unconscious desire to be taken care of by others. The complex becomes more pronounced as a person grows older. This fairy tale is based on the idea of femininity portrayed in that story, where a woman is beautiful, graceful, polite, supportive, hardworking,, independent, and maligned by the females of her society, but she is not able to change her situation by herself with her own actions and must be helped by an outside force, usually the prince. I do believe this complex works both ways where a man thinks, “This is the woman who will make me a real man.” In other words, using romance to generate self-worth is an unstable foundation. It deceives you with a sense of completeness. You know that with a wrong person you will not have any worth. With the right person, you will mean everything.
I’ve been on this healing journey for 22 years. Recovering from my addictions and learning to live from my heart, empowered by my freewill, learning to be prudent in my choices seeking knowledge because “Mind is a terrible thing to waste” hasn’t been all that simple. It’s a hard work. Transformation happens when we recognize our need to change one thing at a time. An ongoing process because we are fearfully and wonderfully made – complex human beings, with complacency as our worst enemy.
Once we start loving, honoring, and respecting our “self’ more on a core level, everything on the outside changes. We begin to see the world through “grace healed eyes” borrowing Philip Yancey’s words.