The Most Realistic Fairy Tale

So, first of all, I just want to say that you guys are awesome. I mean, even when words fail me and I think a post I’ve written is total…well…crap, (excuse me), you all come along and read it and comment on it just like it’s any other post! With words of encouragement and mutual agreement over a love of the color Coral. It’s that kind of thing that really lets you know that you are among friends. *Sigh* I love you guys :)

Okay! So now on to the real post, which I’m really not sure is even polished enough for me to be hitting the “publish” button yet, but I shall trust you all with it anyways – with the caveat that I may come back and revisit the idea/edit it later if I really feel like I have to!


Sometimes I feel as though Peter Pan is the most realistic fairy tale there is.

It came to me one night when I was listening to a song I’d heard about a hundred times before – only this time it was different because the words finally clicked in my brain.

“No matter how much Peter loved her,
What made the Pan refuse to grow?”
Hook – Blues Traveler

And it made me realize that nearly everyone has that one relationship in their life that they wanted so very badly to work out, but that they had to give up in order to grow up.

There are a million different reasons you might have decided to end things – they planned on drinking as often as they did at 21 when they’re 41, they couldn’t own up to their feelings, they refused to communicate or address conflicts, they struggled with priorities…they were like Peter Pan and expected you to be their mother…or couldn’t choose between you and that stupid Tinkerbell.  Whatever it may have been, at some point there was just that moment where you woke up and realized that no matter how much you loved this person, and no matter how many plans for the future you’d made – it was never going to work out.

Photo Credit: Disney

The issue is, when you get in a relationship with anyone you have to do it with the understanding that:
1.  They will never change, and…
2.  They will never stop changing.

By that I mean, you can’t expect any one specific thing about them to change – if they have a habit you hate, it probably isn’t going anywhere.  You’re either going to have to get used to it, or go insane.  But at the same time, people grow and change all throughout their lives, and if you’re going to be in a long-term relationship (even a long-term friendship) with someone, you have to accept that and go along for the ride with them.

So it’s really easy – especially when you’re 16, 17, even in your early 20s, when you still have a lot of growing up to do – to get in a relationship based, at least somewhat, on that ever dangerous thing…potential.

I don’t know about you, but it’s certainly hard for me to imagine being the same person today as I was when I was 16.  Holy cow, I would be just as miserable now as I was then, if so!  I’m SO glad that time in my life is over.  And I know a lot of people could say the same thing.  Maybe not with the same emphasis, but in general, I think it’s safe to say we become much more of the people we want to be after we’ve gotten over being 21.

But at some point, you do have to grow up.  And I don’t mean “grow up” like become a super boring old person who’s favorite hobby is to yell at unruly neighbor children on their lawn – I mean grow up like, finally decide to get your sh*t together.

The unfortunate thing is that there are some “Lost Boys” (and girls) out there that were never given the tools they needed to grow up.  They didn’t have parents who taught them responsibility or to do the right thing – or even what the right thing was. Some of those people were lucky enough to have someone else in their life – a teacher, a friend’s parent, another family member – to help them bridge that gap and find their way.  But, as much as I really don’t want to say it (it just sounds like “giving up” on people, and I hate that), some people struggle forever and will always be those Lost Boys and Girls who never grow up.

“No matter how much Peter loved her,
What made the Pan refuse to grow…
Was that the hook brings you back,
I ain’t tellin’ you no lie,
The hook brings you back,
On that you can rely.”

Like Peter Pan, a lot of them will love someone deeply, but will be unable to ever really leave Neverland behind and grow up.  At least not the way us Wendy’s (Wendell’s?) need them to.  They may try to for a time – they may even succeed for a little while, but in the end, sustained life-long changes are really hard to make.  Especially when you were never taught how to make them.  And as much as I hate to admit it because I’m one of those hopeless romantic types that really would like to believe that all you need is love, I’ve found out first hand that that just isn’t true.  Love is essential, yes, and without it, there’s really no point in having a relationship, but you need a heck of a lot more than that to go the distance.  You can love someone to death and back, but sometimes you have to realize that that’s just what you’ll be doing – loving them to your death, because loving them, in the end, won’t give you life.  Not the kind of life you want to live, or the kind of life you deserve.

Even still, I have a feeling the hardest thing Wendy ever did in her life was decide to leave Peter Pan behind.  After all, the idea of never growing up is appealing sometimes.  And when you love someone, it’s not hard to start thinking you can give up all sorts of things you once thought you required.  However, there are certain things easily sacrificed for a few fleeting moments that cannot be sacrificed for a lifetime.  Eventually, Wendy realized this, as we all must, and she knew that no matter how painful leaving Neverland and the Lost Boys behind was going to be, it would be nothing compared to the pain of giving up the life she was meant live.


(Although I can promise that in my case, going away never means forgetting).

Have you had a similar experience or relationship?


11 thoughts on “The Most Realistic Fairy Tale

  1. In my experience we never stop changing all the way through life… old bad habits slowly work out of the system… Linda and I have been married 39 years and I can’t say that… 3 weeks before we got engaged and a further three weeks before we got married… that we really knew each other… yet what we were then to what we are now is still very much in love with each other.. but I think two different people to what we were when we met… we both had habits that we didn’t want to change.. but in the end one mellows and things change for the better… well in our case it did….

  2. I really related to your post. I’m in my, dare I say it, late 20s and when I look back at one significant relationship I had from the age of 17-21 I realise that it was built entirely on potential. Now 6 years down the line with someone else I look back and realise I’m a) a much better person, b) I know me better and c) a relationship needs the mundane to work rather than just the potential of a fairy tale romance. Forgive me if I’ve misread, it’s been a long day but I just wanted to say how much your post touched me. Thank-you.

  3. Have you watched much of The Office? I watched a couple of early seasons, or enough to appreciate the Dwight “all you need is love” meme. I just googled it and this was the first, fairly representative one I found. They all make me chuckle, because part of me appreciates that we do need love; to our metaphorical hearts, it’s essential. But for the rest of us, our very real bodies in need of sustenance, there’s a whole lot more complexity involved.

    Of course, I like how the meme says it better!

    It’s been hard to walk away few times. In my current situation, it was hard many times not to walk away . . . but I’m glad I stood firm, this time, because I’ve grown from doing so same as I did by walking away in the past. I wish it were easier to know that we were making the right choices at the time, but I also know I’m glad I made the choices I did because they landed me here. Which is a great “here” to be.

  4. I think it’s very true that we come into our own after 20. They’ve discovered that the “white matter” in the brain, rather than just being a matrix for the all-important “gray matter”, is instrumental in proper brain function. And it turns out the white matter isn’t fully formed until about age 20.

    My sister’s kids both married young and both marriages ended in a matter of years. (Long enough for one of them to have a kid.) Oddly, their mother made the same mistake.

    You touch on another important point: love is an important ingredient, but ultimately a successful relationship comes from commitment and acceptance and compromise. My parents are still married (mom happily, dad’s gone to Alzheimer’s) after 65 years, so I’ve seen the trick in action.

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