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Registered: 10-2008
Posts: 2215
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Magical Thinking: The Fairy Godmother

From Cinderella as illustrated by Edmund DuLac



by Lynn S.

My head was filled with pictures of the perfect kind of life.
I wanted to be everything I could be in a wife.
I thought I'd find a husband who was all I hoped he'd be.
I imagined that a special man was waiting, just for me.

I dreamed I'd have a future filled with starry, moonlit skies.
It never even crossed my mind it might be otherwise;
So when I finally met the man who fit inside my frame,
I didn't stop to wonder if his picture was the same.

I walked up to the altar with my fairy tale in mind.
The prince who stood before me was enchanting, warm and kind.
We said our vows and pledged our love, then sealed it with a kiss.
We faced the world together in our newly-wedded bliss.

Then real life entered unannounced to interrupt my plan.
Instead of finding my true prince, I'd found a starving man.
The image that I gazed upon was graven from the first.
In looking for the best in him, I finally saw the worst.

Love wasn't offered selflessly. It came with a condition
That if I did not serve him, it would turn to ammunition.
The tender words and thoughtful deeds that swept my heart away
Were all designed to fill his needs, to turn me into prey.

The photograph inside my head of which I'd been so sure
Began to fade until the man I'd married was a blur.
I also didn't know the girl I'd been then. Where was she?
That's when I locked that portrait in a box without a key.

Old images have faded now and these days I am fine
I've found a new direction that at last I can call mine.
The dream that I had pictured is not what my life would be.
That memory is distant and my future's up to me.

I've pledged my mind to growing and my heart is wed to love.
I count each day as precious and a gift from up above.
My future isn't plotted with a portrait as my guide.
I let the wind direct me and of life I am a bride.

© 2003, 2007


We all may have believed in the magic of fairy tales and happy endings as children. As adults, we still engage in magical thinking to a degree. Superstitions are examples of Magical Thinking. Wearing a 'lucky shirt' or not stepping on cracks in sidewalks are an outgrowth of magical thinking, a belief that unrelated things can affect each other through some transference of energy or thought.

Pictures of how we want our life to be do not magically appear just because we imagine them, either. Critical thinking tells us otherwise.

According to Wikipedia:


"Fundamentally, critical thinking is a form of judgment, specifically purposeful and reflective judgment. Using critical thinking one makes a decision or solves the problem of judging what to believe or what to do, but does so in a reflective way. That is by giving due consideration to the evidence, the context of judgement, the relevant criteria for making that judgment well, the applicable methods or techniques for forming that judgment, and the applicable theoretical and constructs for understanding the nature of the problem and the question at hand."

If we apply critical thinking principles to the questions targets normally ask after being devalued, it might become clear that these question arise from a bit of Magical Thinking.

Common questions a target asks include:

"What if he's changed?"

"What if he's different with his new partner?"

"If I was better, would he have been better?"

"Would it be different if I tried again?"

If you really think about it, none of these questions are based on observable fact. They're based on our belief in and hope for transformation, in happy endings, and in the possibility for reformation.

These things are possible, of course, but not through magic. They happen through work, commitment, introspection, and the willingness to look at our behavior and take responsibility for it. The Narcissist will not transform if he's 'loved enough', if someone else is 'better', nor would it have different if you had been more of what he needed. His change, if it ever could happen, would not come from anywhere except from within.

The picture of what you thought was 'going to be' was likely based on preconceived notions of what you wanted your life to be. It didn't happen. The picture you have in your head of what 'might be' with the Narcissist is also influenced by your attachment to that picture and the fear that someone else is living your dream. It won't happen.

The attachment to the picture is strong. It's based on the needs of the child inside you, the child who believed in magic, the child who is wishing for a better childhood through living it out through a better present in his or her adult life.

Unfortunately, there isn't a second chance for a happy childhood. However, there is now and we can ground ourselves in reality and make the present the best it can be, regardless of those old pictures. Realistically, in the now, nothing tells me that the Narcissist will transform, magically or otherwise. I don't think he wants to do so and failing that, there is no hope for him. However, there is hope for us.

On this journey, our understanding and faith in life is often tested. The goodness in life seems far, far away. Restoring faith in life after these encounters is difficult. It sometimes requires a release of any magical thinking any of us may hold on to in our stubborn refusal to let go of any leftover malignant optimism or wish for the happy ending we had envisioned.

So where does this leave us when the way we thought it should have been isn't how it turned out to be? I think we each try to make meaning out of the suffering we endured in our own way. Here is my own.

I don't believe in magic, at least not the stuff of fairy tales. I believe in divinity. I believe that resilience can be found in faith and hope. We each have our own view of what constitutes that faith and from whence that hope arises. My view is that as children of God, we have a responsibility to honor our experiences in this world and the gift of life we have been offered, however difficult our time on earth may ever be. I have come to know that in dealing with those difficulties, His grace is sufficient. It surpasses our own understanding.

For me, this is the thing we call "letting go". It is surrender that offers not defeat, but release. If we trust in a power and knowledge greater than our own we can let go of those pictures from the past, release the need to find meaning in the suffering, and instead go forth to make meaning from our suffering. We can, with our Higher Power's help, draw closer to Him and transform our experience into something that is pleasing to our Maker and hopefully also makes a difference in this world.

My personal belief is not in my own power to conjure up a magical dream; it's in a divine power much greater than my own. I believe He likely knows much better than I do what I need which is not necessarily what I have ever thought I wanted. This life is not about my will or my dream. It is about a greater plan. It is my task to listen and respond with reverence to the direction in which I'm led.

Peace to all.



  For a peek into another kind of magical thinking, Sam Vaknin has described the Magic Thinking of a Narcissist here:

The Magic of the Narcissist's Thinking

"The best way out is always through."--Robert Frost
Oct/28/2008, 10:25 am Link to this post  

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