Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario. Here's this week's!
Bristol Palin and Levi Johnson have apparently become engaged again—and want to demonstrate their bliss by appearing on a reality TV show. Good plan. Look how well that turned out for Jon and Kate!Don't miss a Reality Check! Sign up to receive it FREE in your inbox every week! Subscribe to To Love, Honor and Vacuum
I don’t mean to disparage them, though. They’re still so young, and I hope for everyone’s sakes, and especially their son’s, that they’re able to build a lasting and loving relationship. Unfortunately, signs don’t point to marital bliss.
We have a propensity to believe lies as a coping mechanism. If we think that the lie will make us happier, or better able to deal with a life we’re not particularly fond of, we’ll latch onto it. Here’s Bristol, an attractive, bright woman, from a good family, who should have the world at her feet. But instead she was pregnant at sixteen, and now, while all her friends are partying in college and preparing for a better life, she’s preparing baby food.
Many have walked her road before, and it’s not an easy one, though the blessings a child brings can make the difficulties worthwhile. When you are nineteen years old, though, you don’t necessarily focus on those blessings as much as you do on what you’re missing. And here’s this gorgeous guy, who once used to love you, and now he says he loves you again, and you don’t have to do this alone anymore. You can have your own family, your own life, instead of feeling constantly like a failure to your parents.
Of course we want to believe such love is possible, and such a betrayer is redeemable. We want to believe that the guy who beat us up, the wife who lied to us, the friend who cheated on us, the husband who stole our money, really has reformed. To not believe it means not only are we alone, but we’re the ones who messed it up by trusting a loser in the first place. And that’s an ugly thing to believe about yourself.
Some fairytales do come true, and when you’re in the midst of a romantic drama, you’re sure you’re the one who’s going to beat the odds. Maybe you will. But everybody looking on isn’t quite so sure. They’re scared for you, because they love you.
Here’s what they want you to do. Recognize that a fairytale is part of a larger story that follows a logical plotline. The bad guys tend to stay bad, unless they have a true change of heart which is evidenced by something extraordinary. They do not suddenly change from bad to good with a simple “I’m sorry”, or a few tears, or a sweet text message. They have to come back from the dead, or slay the dragon, or make some huge act of contrition which really has nothing in it for them. They have to give up something big, or they have not been transformed into heroes. They have simply become schemers.
If you’re wondering whether your fairytale will have its happy ending, then, look objectively at your story. If your love has been horrid to you in the past, then it’s very unlikely that he or she will suddenly become Mr. or Mrs. Right. If they have come crawling back because whatever they betrayed you for has now turned sour, and you’re better than nothing, then you are not in a fairytale. Don’t turn it into a tragedy by accepting their overtures.
Villains do not become heroes overnight. It takes time for a plot to logically unfold so that you can witness the change of heart. It takes time for the hero to emerge. So give your love the time and distance so that you can tell whether you have a hero or a schemer. Otherwise, it’s very doubtful you will live happily ever after. I do hope Bristol is listening.
Labels: columns, marriage, teens