I was never one of those girls that dreamt of being saved by Prince Charming as a kid.In fact Cinderella got kind of a “bum deal” in my opinion first she loses her father and then she spends the rest of her days as a servant to her evil stepmother and her “ugly step sisters” then she thinks she catches a “lucky break” by receiving an invitation to the ball to meet the Prince.The Prince in his rich and dashing way sweeps her off her feet as they share a dance at the ball she leaves in a haste leaving the glass slipper behind knowing that her carriage will soon turn back into a pumpkin and her identitity as a pauper will be revealed. The Prince becomes infatuated with her and he issues an edict searching for the girl who is “just the right fit” for him. To me Prince Charming is the “lucky one” in this tale he is probably tired of the boring debutantes that he usually encounters he is dreaming of a girl who can cook and clean and isn’t so spoiled that she is treating him as a servant throughout the entirety of the relationship but no one ever really talks about what life is like for Cinderella in the Castle? Does she suddenly have servants? How as a former servant would she actually feel about that,? Was the Prince always kind to his servants before Cinderella came along? Did Prince Charming decide to save money by firing the baker, the maid and their dishwasher because Cinderella already knew how to do those things? What kind of Queen was Cinderella after the transition,? But I digress I realize that it is just a fairy tale from a place born of human imagination which in itself can be a beautiful thing.However my life was not like Cinderella’s.Even though in many ways I felt out of place in the world my wonderful and supportive family made home a solid foundation for me. My creativity and passion were not just encouraged they were nurtured and flourished .
My mother an artist herself loved me and understood my need to create and express myself through both visual and performance art the way only a fellow artist could comprehend. I did not grow up feeling incomplete or insecure about myself as a person despite a great deal of outside pressure to conform for “popularity’s sake”. In the end my mother’s smiling face cheering me on in all my endeavors is what became the most solid foundation for my sense of self worth. I loved the fact that my mom was so different from the other moms I knew ;she was open and honest with me in every area of her life never felt the need to lie to me in order to ” protect her own image”.Not once did she expect “perfection” in her own children. She celebrated the messy and the mundane she laughed easily and often and encouraged others to do the same. She was unapologetically kind even to those who used her and discarded her.I have never known a kinder woman.I spent most of my teenage years trying to navigate through life not just as a woman but as a woman with an outwardly visible disability .So many of the lies I was told about love , beauty, and “sexual politics” eventually led to a greater awakening of something deeper within me.On the surface I have always been seen as someone who comes across as “silly and sweet,” I smile often laugh freely and am not afraid of telling jokes or funny stories but some have mistaken that to mean that I am or can be “air headed and shallow”. However people are seldom that easy to ” pigeon hole” my humor and my almost melodic laugh mask a very deep and empathetic heart and a person generally has to spend more than the average amount of time to get to know that side of me.There is a deep well of emotional and spiritual depth hidden behind a mischievous smile and I do not grant a “bucket” to every person that I meet they have to put forth the effort first.In the past the young men that I had the misfortune of dating were perhaps used to young women so desperate to be in a relationship that they compromised their identity and became the girl they thought any guy would want.I was fortunate to be a bit more “self aware” and this is not due to me feeling in any way “superior,” to said girls, no in fact many of these individuals were my close friends and I was often the “shoulder that they cried on,” my heart broke for them when they relayed some of their stories from their perspective back to me.At the same time being the self aware introvert that I am The guys in question did not comprehend that in my mind being alone and allowed to be who I am was far preferable to changing the most basic aspects of my personality to fit someone else’s ideal of the “right fit” for them.While I do believe that in healthy relationships both parties may encourage one another to grow and improve a real life love story does not require a makeover. JJ was far from the first man in my life to tell me that he thought I was beautiful but he was one of the few that told me this without adding suggestions about how I could either improve my look or one of the few whom I knew saw me as beautiful from the “,inside out,” .To me I have had to ignore disparaging or rude remarks about my appearance long before I became a woman, it pretty much began the day that I was born and I do realize that yes this happens to all girls and all people to some extent but its a bit different when it is due to the fact that a piece of your anatomy that is literally “missing” I speak from experience when I say that it isn’t entirely true that you “don’t miss what you have never had”.While I definitely don’t feel that I need that part of me to be happy and whole there will always be a part of me that wonders what my life would have been like if I were born looking more like everyone else. However I also concur with Helen Keller who once said this “I am thankful for my handicaps for in them I have found myself, my work and my God”. So much of who I am has been developed through the experience that I have had in dealing with societal acceptance or rejection due to my disability or their perception of my abilities based upon my physical appearance. My husband was and is my ” Knight in Shining armour ” in a very different sense than the way depicted in ancient fairy tales or modern Romance novels. He was not only not intimidated or off put by the fact that I have always been indepent and outspoken but it is the aspect of my personality he seems to enjoy the most. Seen by many as a sort of “tough guy” he relished in the fact that I was not someone who teased him when he would show the more “sensitive” aspects of his personality. I love the stories that he told me in the beginning of our relationship of all the crazy things he used to do with his friends and I loved the fact that he was not shy about and still isn’t shy about telling me that I am wrong especially on those days that I need to hear it.I love that he knows how to cook better than I do because all his favorite recipes are from his mothers kitchen.I love the fact that even though
he’s adopted and has never met his biological mother he carries a picture of her in his wallet, and has never blamed his shortcomings on either his biological parents or his adoptive parents. I love that during each and every pregnancy he served as my labor coach and was there telling me how proud he was of me for being “,brave” through each and every delivery. I love that he is secure enough to sometimes let me have the spotlight. I love that he often gives his last dollar to a stranger seeking to pay for bus fare.I love the way he listens to music to calm his bipolar disorder. I love the fact that he disagrees with me about almost everything yet still respects my right to speak my mind without apology. I love that he has a quieter and more personal faith than I do yet does not condemn me for sharing my beliefs with others because he realizes that we are in fact two different people and that is more than OK.I love the fact that when I told him why I support Feminism and label myself as a feminist he listened intently without making assumptions about me either hating men or believing that I believe in ” female superiority ” .I love that he is traditionally masculine while at the same time admiring and respecting women.I love the way he makes our children laugh.I love the way he hepled me remember not to take life so seriously but most of all I love the way that he is unapologetically JJ and allows me to be unapologetically Candace. I would not trade that for all the “glass slippers” in the world. Keep the Castle in the Sky our dream is a log Cabin in the woods where we are free to be the individuals we were born to be.
“Real life love stories do not require makeovers”.