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Damsel in Distress*

Once upon a time, there was a damsel in distress. A princess, of course, who was just tired of the curses and the dragons and the towers and the mattresses. She wanted a normal, happy life, without so much stress. So she decided to clean house.

She covered her mirrors and cut her hair. She donated her ball gowns and brought her pet frogs back to the river. She was going to just go forward on her own. She was done with the past, with the fairy tale ending that never quite came true.

She gathered her determination and put her foot down: “I am ready!” she declared. “Ready to go forward. Move on. Leave this misery behind. Ready. Ready. Ready.” But nothing happened.

No magic. No white horses. It was just her. There. Alone. So, she tried again, “I’m really ready now.” But the energy was draining out of her like air from a balloon. “Well, maybe I’m ready. I’m just about ready…to be ready. Time to go out and live life with joy…Right?! Really almost possibly ready…now…” Did it work?

Well, not so much. Despite her declarations and bold statements, but she had only changed the outside elements. Inside, she was still angry. She still blamed the witches and the giants and the funny little guy who sang around the fire. I’m okay, she thought, but they — they’re jerks.

And that’s where she fell right back into the dungeon.

She was trying to move forward by putting the material parts behind her, but she was still taking the emotional baggage with. She was still angry and disappointed, vengeful and bitter — still withholding her forgiveness.

Now, we all love a good sob story. They’re very addictive. “He did her wrong,” or “Did you hear what she did!” or “They were so superior and look how they fell from their throne!” But the problem with this sort of thinking is that it cements us back into a role that only cuts us off at the knees: the role of victim.

Like the princess, we often want to move beyond the miseries of our former life, we want to feel a sense of victory, a sense of our own power, but those are very high vibrations. And they aren’t accessible to us when she’s stuck in a lower vibration. And playing the victim is a low vibration. It is very difficult to get to a high vibration of “happy ever after” from the state of victimhood and blame.

The magic key to get you out of this dungeon is forgiveness. If you’re stuck anywhere in your life, ask yourself “Who have I not forgiven yet?” This is the place where you’re still defining yourself as the victim, seeing something as wrong.

And most of the time, the person we don’t forgive is ourselves. Everyone else is allowed to not live up to these expectations, but not us. We have higher standards. We are nobility. We need to make a good impression on others. We need to have a good impression of ourselves. We want to be the princess who was wronged. Even if we have to make up all sorts of fairy tales to be able to keep ourselves in our delusions.

There is no nobility in not forgiving yourself. We aren’t better people because we don’t forgive ourselves. In fact, the opposite is true: we will treat everyone else worse because we don’t forgive ourselves. We cannot give others a depth of compassion that we do not first extend to ourselves. We see ourselves as unworthy, and then we project that onto everyone around us.

What if for just a few seconds, we allowed ourselves to forgive ourselves? What if you closed your eyes just for five seconds right now and for those five seconds, you stopped hating anything about yourself: what you did, what you didn’t do, what you thought, how you felt. What if for five seconds you allowed every single moment in your life to be perfect?

What happens in the next moment?

See if maybe the next moment you don’t see the course of your life with a little bit more fairy dust.

* A version of this article appeared in the Redding Sentinel, Redding, CT in May 2023.

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