Content warning: Suicidal thoughts
I’ve never watched a Disney princess classic. My familiarity with Snow White stretches as far as what a picture book can summarize. My parents, not wanting me to grow up waiting for a prince to save me, didn’t allow my sister and me to watch the actual movie.
Unfortunately, that picture of romance was inevitable to come across and eventually fall for. Any story without a hint of sexual tension is hard to come by or otherwise less exciting. Blossoming love between two characters is enough to create a timeless film; a kiss in the rain powerful enough to be labeled “iconic.” Whether portrayed on screen or between pages, each of these kinds of stories illustrate the same trope: That love saves.
In some ways, having that message familiarized through modern romantic comedies rather than magical fantasies made the idea of having a significant other even more desirable. My life was apparently dull if the man of my dreams didn’t show up on my driveway holding a boombox over his head. I found myself wanting to be saved not from a poisonous apple, but from the loneliness that stemmed from a constant reminder that not having “the one” made me incomplete.
The flip side of this is to say that I don’t need anyone at all — but that’s not true either. Without other people, I wouldn’t be here, nor would I be the person I am today. I have been saved from different things at different points in my life. Funnily enough, none of those moments involved Prince Charming.
Fifth grade was the first time I saw my mom cry. She’d discovered a lie I’d kept up for months, and I was faced with the hurt I’d caused and the trust I’d broken when she confronted me. But I will never forget her response:
“I forgive you.”
Those three words carried with them the entire gravity of my mistake, which my mom took upon herself for the sake of accepting me back into her arms. They saved me from a lifetime of guilt and hiding and showed me the miraculous way that forgiveness can mend what feels unfixable — a lesson that would allow immeasurable healing from heartbreak in the future.
I have also been saved in a literal sense. The date was Dec. 11, 2018. I was sitting on my parent’s bathroom floor, my eyes mysteriously devoid of tears despite my deep sadness. Severe depression had convinced me that there was no reason to keep living. I felt completely numb to the decision of choosing life or death at that moment because of how much I’d diminished myself into something that could easily be thrown away.
In my trance-like state, my phone buzzed. I snapped out of it to look at the text message I’d received. Eric was asking about the math homework.
Which problems of Chapter 5 were we supposed to do?
I stared at the screen for a second, shocked out of my previous state of mind. Suddenly the tears burst forth and racked my body. His simple, grossly-irrelevant question brought me to reality, where I was faced with the truth of my fragility. It brought me out of myself and reminded me that my life intersected with others. I wiped my face and picked up my phone.
That day also served to prove to me that I needed more serious help. I began attending an immersive therapy program. Sitting across from me at one of the circular tables was a tan, dark-haired boy with downturned eyes fixed on his lap. His sadness was palpable, and my goal quickly became to make him smile. It was the first thing in a long time that gave me a reason to get up in the morning. We became friends fast, and I watched his demeanor shift within the nine days I was there. His laugh lit up the room. His presence reacquainted me with beauty; his story gave me hope. I don’t know where he is now, but I wish I could tell him how much he meant to me and still does, just for being there. He gave me a sense of purpose when I couldn’t find it on my own, comradery in sorrow and appreciation for the subtle rediscovery of joy.
The thing I’ve taken away from people like these is that it’s okay to need others. Not in the way that a prince needs to scale a tower to get to me, but in ways that sometimes come unexpectedly and from unexpected characters.
I have discovered that I can be a greater antagonist to myself than an evil stepmother, and that life’s trials shouldn’t be fought alone. The desire for one handsome savior is silly when compared to the abundance found in everyday relationships. It’s a fallacy to believe that a dramatic standoff or a curse-breaking kiss is love’s truest form. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be as deep as love; simply another’s existence is enough. You are enough. I am enough. In all my flaws — no, because of them — I am complete.
Brought to you by my unlikely heroes.