Cinderella Could Not Have Known

by Eve Livingston

cind and princeSuch a nice girl, wouldn’t you agree?

Surely she couldn’t have known that her story would cause such a ruckus….Such upheaval to so many unsuspecting, hapless victims of Cinderella-inspired, misguided notions about love.

“Um, excuse me?”


“You mean it’s not all true?!”


No.  Sorry.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but no, it’s not all true.

Don’t feel alone, however, in your surprise, nor embarrassed about the confusion.  I’d love to somehow be able to gather statistics on how many people, really, have gone awry in their search for Prince Charming or their Perfect Princess or Fairy Godmother, etc., partly as a result of this incredibly powerful fable of love and redemption.

It’s a great story; don’t get me wrong.  As stories go it’s a topper.  Many interesting layers of goodness to be found in it.  The problem is that somehow the genie got out of the bottle, got more than a little bit drunk and is somehow still running amok.

There are a lot of people (forgive me, ladies, but I daresay largely you) who perhaps understandably got led astray by the wishful thinking in this wonderful, imaginary tale.

Them’s fightin’ words, I know, believe me.  Perhaps I should offer an explanation.  Let’s just start here:  Not only has this story given us the idea that pretty pairs of shoes really do work magic in our lives (editor’s note:  I reserve the right to still believe this, occasionally, after “publish” is pushed), even more problematic is that of the shoes we do not own, we have this idea that someone else has the one we need most, and our foot might be the only foot that fits.

Worse still (nefarious almost, but again, it’s not Cinderella’s fault), perhaps the best part of the story, to those who wait, is we are convinced that once this mythological shoe fits (or whatever…close enough), there will never be danger of being found wanting.  Or being found at fault.  Or hating the hell out of our partner the first time they surprise us with being only human.

“So what?…And your point is…?”

Ah.  Excellent questions.

So we might spend too much time hovering by the peephole, hoping the person with aforementioned magic slipper shows up at our door just in time.  We might wander away in disappointment from the person whose hands are hard to see, or who clearly seem to have something else in them besides a shoe.

Even worse is how extraordinarily anxiety-provoking this notion can be.  If you’re constantly vigilant about seeking freedom from regret, as possibly found in a perfectly fitting slipper, you’d better believe you’re doing a lot of holding your breath.  The kind of holding your breath that people do when startled, or terrified, or wondering if the world’s about to end.  Even if only for a second here, and a second there–even if you only ever realize you were doing it in retrospect–really, it’s an awful lot to put yourself through.

What’s the solution?  Step away from the illusion of the magic slipper.

Forgive dear Cinderella for having it work for her, but not for you.  Her two-dimensional character lets her off the hook.  We mortals are much more complicated, and have the sophistication to see that sometimes a shoe needs to be built around a foot.

And that’s ok, because overall we’re smart enough to figure out how to be up to the task.

Seek a good mental cobbler if you must.  This is a learn-able skill.

Content copyright 2018. Eve Livingston, Ph.D. All rights reserved.