Fairy Tales

Illustration by Jessie Willcox Smith from The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, Author Jessie Willcox Smith, Source http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/34339 (PD)

Illustration by Jessie Willcox Smith from The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, Photographer Jessie Willcox Smith, Source http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/34339 (PD)

“Once upon a time…”  When we were children those were magical words.  They called up a world of fairy godmothers, princes slaying dragons, and wishes come true.  A fairy tale promised excitement and adventure.  Best of all, we were guaranteed a happy ending.

Andrew Lang compiled hundreds of fairy tales into The Fairy Books of Many Colors.  I devoured these as a child, one color after another – The Red Fairy Book, The Yellow Fairy Book, etc. – as fast as I could lay hands on them.  I simply could not get my fill.  Yet I could not have said at the time what the fascination was for me.

Psychologists have long argued over the meaning and usefulness of fairy tales.  These universally loved stories can be interpreted in a variety of ways.

The explanation that comes closest to my own experience is that fairy tales allow children to confront and deal with their fears and concerns – whether of abandonment (Hansel and Gretel), death (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty), rejection (Cinderella), etc. – in symbolic terms, so that those fears and concerns are reduced to manageable size.

Children get the satisfaction of slaying their own dragons…from a safe distance.

Tragically, the dragons that child victims of abuse must face are all too real.  The wicked witch has come to life; the monster, escaped from under the bed.  There is no sword in the stone, no magic wand handy.

We tell children fairy tales with a happy ending to give them courage; to get them ready for the dragons we know they will face as adults.  Dragons with names like bureaucracy, corruption, racism, and fascism.

The dragons abuse victims face as adults have other names – names like anxiety, depression, and PTSD.  Those require courage, too.

It is not necessary that our recovery be perfect.  Life is not a fairy tale.  But the happy ending is in our hands.

“Courage is not the absence of despair; it is rather, the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair.”

– Psychologist Rollo May

Have a Happy New Year!



Filed under Child Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse

42 responses to “Fairy Tales

  1. I was never told fairy tales but this one does ring true to me.

  2. I can identify with this, having once been told by my abuser that what he had done “sounded like a fairy tale” meaning I’d made it all up. Thankfully, I can see my ‘happy ending’. I pray that all those that have been through abusive experiences will be able to see their happy ending too. This is such a timely and relevant post Anna. It tells us that we can take back control of our lives. That’s a powerful thing to be able to do!

  3. My mother never told me fairy tales. She was every inch a realist and thought the idea of all that was pretty stupid. She never tried to offer the reassurance of a happy ending, saying if you want a happy ending, you have to write your own basically.

    Probably a great skill set to go into life and business with…not quite as userful when it comes to dealing with others with empathy.

  4. You’ve offered us a wonderful post once again, Anna–it feels so good to know that the Happy Ending is indeed in our hands, courtesy of our victorious Lord. May He bless you with more than you could dream or imagine in this New Year–love, stella ❤

    • Again and again, I find that readers enlarge and enhance my posts. I truly value your feedback, and interpretation, Stella. Not all readers have suffered to the extent you have. But the Lord offers His love and comfort to all. May He greatly bless your New Year! By your presence, you have already blessed mine. ❤

      • Oh my, what a lovely thing for you to say–thank you for that gift, Anna. I’m keeping notes, a list of the angels God sent to assist me from last November, on. I didn’t trust myself to remember all the specific people and stepping stones He was putting on my path during this pivotal time in my life 🙂

      • Be sure to follow-up w/ legal counsel, Stella. You need and deserve help and support. Reach out for it. ❤

      • I was told there’s no legal remedy for my situation by the free advocate I spoke with–she referred me to the senior/vouchered housing program people, who are now assisting me to get on the “wait list”, approx 2 years…unless God moves more quickly 🙂 Thank you, Anna–you got me started and I’ll be forever grateful ❤

      • That is disappointing news. I wish I could have helped in a more concrete way, Stella. I am certain, however, that God will not abandon you. ❤

      • I don’t really see it the same way you do, Anna–and truly, you were greatly helpful. As an attorney yourself, you must have run into many situations where “the law is the law”–and it didn’t favor your client or provide legal remedy. Thank God, that the free attorney I spoke with was, like you, so very compassionate–and phoned me back the same afternoon to refer me to Hope Options. They too, were wonderful–agreed my situation was “unacceptable”, and quickly started the ball rolling to get me into senior housing in a “lovely, quiet, more rural little town” about an hour and a half from where I live now. This is a dream come true–and God has been helping me in every way to prepare for a very big change. I’ve never been to this town and don’t know anyone there–but 2 years ago, when I would have qualified to apply, I was too paralyzed to even contemplate moving. Having 2 women, housing “case managers” assist me with the application process has encouraged me to believe “I can do all things with God who strengthens me”. I fully expect to be approved for the housing, as I qualify in age and disability–and believe me, I can wait 2 more years if that’s how long it takes! As soon as the weather warms up, I plan to take the bus to scout out my new neighborhood–I’ve even contacted a church that appears to be within walking distance (I don’t drive). I’m so very excited, like I haven’t been–maybe in my whole life–so I really want you to be thrilled with me 🙂 God can move FAST when it’s His time to unfold His plan for us ❤

      • I am humbled by your faith, Stella. May God continue to watch over you. ❤ ❤ ❤

      • Well, thank you, Anna–God has surely been growing my faith over the years, and I now have a bumper-crop of it. Your prayers gladden my heart so very much–please know you are always in my heart and prayers too! ❤

  5. As you know Anna, I have a loved one with scars from abusive treatment. I’m so thankful that Tuesday she is checking into a facility for treatment for a few weeks. This is a wonderful answer to prayer that has been long coming. A great way to start the new year. I wish you the best of the New Year, Anna, and God’s continued blessings for you.

  6. ronbrownx

    A very practical take on the roles of fairy tales in our lives.In learned things fom reading them but never really reflected in their true value. Thanks Anna!

  7. tabitha59reachingout

    Great post, Anna. I never thought through the whole concept of fairy tales and their usefulness for children. This was very interesting. But then ….. who needs fairy tales when we have Jesus? He is our Prince. He has slayed the dragon. He rescues us from the evil one. He has redeemed our lives from the pit of hell. He is our Helper, our Healer, our best friend and faithful King. He is building a glorious home for us to return to one day. He is the Lover of our souls. What more could we ask for?

  8. What a powerful statement Anna: “it is not necessary that our recovery be perfect”. If it were I dare say that there could be no recovery,and that equates to hopelessness in my mind.

    Like Wally I never had fairy tales told to me either,and after I had children of my own I realized what I had missed out on as a child by not hearing them.

    Every child(adults too!)needs to hear and learn that there is hope. They also need to learn that things may not always turn out as they had wished,but as long as there is hope the dragon hasn’t won yet!

  9. A most interesting post and such accurate projections and analogies when it comes to certain “real dragons & Villains… thanks for sharing (and raising awareness as you often do, dear Anna… Happy 2⃣0⃣1⃣7⃣ to you! 🎇🎶🌠🎶

  10. very interesting post
    Je te souhaite une bonne et heureuse année 2017
    Tous mes meilleurs voeux
    bisous de Madagascar

  11. Anna, you have been given a gift that is refreshing- used so purely.. so much love.

    You encourage. You inspire. You are a hand that can be seen reaching out in the midst of the blinding smoke of pain and loss that says, ” Your Heavenly Father is this way. Come!”

    Thank you.

    • I am overwhelmed by such praise, David. I cannot tell you how gratified I am that you would feel this way. I pray that God may use me. More often than not though my efforts seem very small. There are so many in pain. All I can do is try to touch one heart, one life, at a time.

  12. Such a wonderful framework for speaking to that which contributes to resilience…which in turn engenders healing. God has such a wonderful imagination, and, in taking a page from his book (not The Book in this case 🙂 ), we manage to mitigate human condition that would rob so many of the opportunity to find their way to the light. Thank you for using your words to change things for the better 🙂

  13. Love this and especially love the ending quote. It is so, so true, as is the fact that we do get to write the endings to our own stories. What a gift! Thanks for sharing!

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