Despite there being a number of poor messages in the Disney movies I watched during my childhood (most I am only recently becoming aware of), there are moments in the stories that glimmer with innocent truths that sparked my imagination and idealism. One movie in particular, and hands down my personal favourite, happened to contain two of the best seeds of relationship advice I have ever come across (and yes, I have looked at a lot). However, there were also two other seeds, these ones much more destructive, planted within me as a child that still to this day play out in my own life. The movie I will draw an illustrative metaphor from is called Aladdin.
The seeds I am exploring came to light as I sat down to write this blog. Like pieces to a puzzle that connect together and reveal a larger image, the seeds weave a thread backward in time through parts one and two of this series on relationships; the first, dove into the story of “only one, forever”; the second, swam through the need for, and fullness of, boundaries. These story-seeds are by no means exclusive to the movie Aladdin; you can find them across the movie/story-bored.
I feel safe to assume that most of us know the story of Aladdin. It’s a hero’s quest – the cast away street-rat happens upon a lucky break that wins the attention of the girl, his most prized treasure. The evil-doer takes it all away, and in his fall, the protagonist accepts his destiny and role in rising up to vanquish the bad guy; once again fulfilling his dream to rescue the girl and live happily ever-after. Who doesn’t like an overcoming-all-the-odds-stacked-against-one kind of story with a little laughter and magic sprinkled throughout?
It’s easy for us to see the story of “only one, forever” in most children’s movies and fairy tales, often encapsulated in the ending of “happily ever after”. The Disney story of Aladdin is no exception – indeed, the hero is the one meant to save the princess in distress by rescuing and freeing her from the cage around her heart (see part one for more on this). When the conflict arises in Aladdin, his truth is eventually revealed as the lies are exposed. He faces the consequences of constructing a lie to manipulate others. Jasmine, is of course hurt by this deception and breaking of trust. Thankfully, Aladdin wins her love and forgiveness back when he risks his life to save hers in the ultimate show of devotion. All is immediately forgiven.
Where the second part to this series relates to the story of Aladdin is in the resolution and forgiveness of Aladdin’s deception toward Jasmine. He performs some wondrous act of devotion and show of love; her forgiveness is immediate. Is that healthy for a relationship, or even the way emotions work? My experience of having trust broken and coming to a place of forgiveness for another person is not even close to this.
Broken trust, manipulation, deception, and lies hurt on a deep level. Forgiveness is something that comes in time, usually only when we release the attachments/identification to our wounds and heal from the experience – it cannot be forced. At least, that is my perspective at this present moment of being immersed in exactly that space of hurt. What helps with this healing process? The topic of part two and the need for boundaries to feel safe in opening up one’s heart again touches on this. Acceptance and forgiveness of another is essential, but so is the respect for one’s self to not be treated poorly by others. That’s where a boundary comes in.
Rubbing the Lamp
For the third part to this ‘soul mate delusion’ series, let’s jump back to the two seeds of simple truth, explicitly shared in the movie Aladdin relating to relationships. Although the Genie, as a good friend does, tells Aladdin quite directly these truths when he is confused as to how he should heal his relationship with Jasmine, Aladdin still requires the downfall and breakdown of everything he knew in order to be able to hear them. The Genie’s bits of wisdom were: be yourself, and tell the truth.
These two simple, basic truths extend beyond our intimate partnerships and are useful each day of our lives (as is all great relationship advice). The reason they are useful pieces of guiding wisdom is that they are evolving concepts over one’s life – who you are changes, as does what you know to be true – but the underlying essence of telling the truth and being authentic remains constant. We do our best to tell the truth and embody our authentic selves, but the discover and exploration of what those are to you is a lifelong journey. The love of the heart (including one’s truth and authentic self-expression) can change its mind in a moment, just as it has the capacity to commit to a direction with a devotional intensity potent enough to move a mountain. What felt right, good, and aligned one day may not in the next. Such is the practice of developing self-trust and listening to those changes.
Meeting the Genie
My intimate partnerships are very powerful evokers of the truth and authentic expression within myself. When you open your heart and love another, a profound thing happens: you learn to love yourself. This is one reason why I love to fall in love with women so different than me. Each one shows me layers upon layers of themselves – the good, the bad, and the ugly – their pains, passions, and dreams – so that I can learn to love unconditionally and accept them in their entirety. When I practice the arts of love, I am healing not only myself and them, but the whole of the planet.
As I learn to open up and love different expressions of myself in the safe container of a partnership, I grow in my compassion, empathy, and understanding of all people. I can take what I practice and apply it in all my relations. I open my heart in vulnerability to another and receive what they have to show me, even if it hurts. Why do we show our wounds and hurt those we love? Because we know they will love us back, and in our revealing, we are brought closer together in our shared emotional humanness. To open to love is to open the yet-to-be-healed wounds of the past.
Making a Wish
Falling in love over and over has lifted me to the highest heights and kicked me down into the lowest of lows. Every time I choose this cycle, I see, know, hear, and feel more of my Self. I see the limiting and destructive patterns I repeat, I know a deeper truth within my heart, I hear another more beautifully and clearly, and I feel a more expanded, strengthened, and refined version of me.
In my exploration of authenticity and truth within relationship I have shifted across the continuum of monogamous/polyamorous partnership many times. I have been left behind, our dreams abandoned, by a lover as a consequence of her creating life with another. I was left alone, collapsed to my knees in a downpour of tears on a dark street corner, and cut out completely by another partner who needed to push me away. I felt the pain of a partner deceitfully having sex with another man, resulting in her heart shifting focus, our dreams dissolved, and my personal witnessing of the expressions of love they now share.
I share these stories, not as some means to evoke sympathy from you. I share them because deep down, I know these are situations I asked for. Why would someone want these painful moments? One reason is that I know they are part of my journey to love more expansively, inclusively, and fluidly. Another is so I may one day share them with you, transforming the pain into fuel for my creativity.
I asked for these experiences because I want to know you, those with whom these words resonate, a little more. I want you to feel heard and see me clearer. Perhaps if I choose to take this pain on, someone else won’t need to. I want to understand who I am, what is true to me, and how we are all connected – as much as life will allow. I want to experience the fullness life has to offer – the good, the bad, and the ugly. I want to know that I am right where I need to be and can trust in unfolding path of life, whether it is a new opportunity or a major stab to the heart.
Most of all, I want to listen to the Genie and remember to bee myself and tell the truth, as best as I know how today.
It’s all growth. You have what you need to move forward from the past.
I believe in you!
This is part Three of a Four part series exploring the concepts of soul mates, intimate partnership, and the spectrum along the monogamous/polyamorous continuum.
Click to Read Part One – Why I Can’t Be Your Superman
Click to Read Part Two – The Fullness of Boundaries
Click to Read Part Four – Why We Are All Polyamorous (Coming soon)