Someday my prince will come.

(A codependent) Snow White; & me, aged 10

Snow White’s words of ardour-filled yearning were a frequent ear-worm of mine when I was young.

They had started to weave their way into my stream-of-conscious when I was 10 — the same age that I moved from the country I loved, and my all-girls school, and back to a dreary, grey UK and a new, co-ed Prep school.

I was primed to yearn for that fairy-tale, and the spark ignited as soon as I entered an environment of which 50% was comprised of the opposite sex. I surfed a wave of longing that was unrequited. Because, frankly, I had no idea what to do around, or how to relate to, boys. No idea at all. But this wasn’t so much cluelessness as a profound sense of conflict. Turmoil, even. Yes: turmoil.

I grew up in a family that taught turmoil – in its behaviours, its interactions; in the dysfunctions that both my parents brought to their marriage. I learned turmoil through absence and the incompleteness that defined ‘love’. I learned it through contempt and abuse and denial. I learned that I wasn’t safe – neither with women, nor men. Perhaps particularly with men, given the conflict I felt around the boys in my new school.

It was never just a kiss, you see. It was never just flirting. It was the turmoil of my family, and the potential for destruction. My desires were built on what I never had, and on what I had but I didn’t want. Snogs outside classrooms and in the backs of halls lost their innocence long before I was aware of them.

Someday my prince will come. I both wanted him, and I was terrified of him.

I was codependence waiting to happen. And happen it did; over and over again. Until one day, after a first marriage that was the mother (and father) of all codependent relationships, I picked up the phone and called a therapist. That was the point where things started to change, though they took their precious time. Decades, in fact.

During this process, I’ve been broken down many times, and I’ve rebuilt and I’ve been rebuilt by invisible forces. Not into a Palace of Versailles. No, I’ll never be a Palace of Versailles. I’m more of a beehive: something that is forever changing and growing around a basic structure that pretty much stays the same. It is forever a work-in-progress; a little add-on here; the relinquishing of something dearly held about myself there. But it feels productive, if at times chaotic on the inside.

I know quite a lot about structures now.

I know a lot about relationships, especially codependent relationships, and interrelatedness; the damage they can wreak on an individual and on groups, and the concomitant beauty that can emerge from healing. Not Palace-of-Versailles healing, but beehive-healing: sealing up wounds with propolis — “bee-glue” that is produced by the hive’s own inhabitants; the discovery of new places to add waxy cells to grow food and to sustain life; the power of apparent chaos that has an order behind it.

This blog is what I’ve learned. This is what I continue to learn.