Prisoner in Paradise, Part 2–Lost!

For Part 1 of this story go to Prisoner in Paradise.

Prisoner in Paradise, Part 2: Princess Diaries

“I find myself in this place so often it’s becoming redundant. I wonder if this will be the door that opens all of the other doors that have been, thus far, closed to me. No. Locked. Here I am again, trudging through this labyrinth of entanglements, bumping into one dead end after another. Every time I dash down what seems to be a promising, open pathway I am shocked by a rough impediment–a door slammed, a wall erected, a stone thrown–right at my face! I stumble back, nurse my wounds, recover from the sting, then see another light in the corner and move towards it, more cautiously this time. But I pick up my pace as the light grows brighter, beckoning me. My heart quickens as my mind imagines the possibilities.

tunnel

“It will be different this time,” I say out loud. Yet, the closer I come to the light, I notice, the dimmer it appears, until I find myself, at last, in an empty room. I look behind me at the winding path from which I came and can only see around the corner. I’m alone, in a room, standing over a small candle with a flickering flame that casts shadows against the barren walls. The shadows loom large over me until their dark outlines form the pattern of ghastly fiends. They move slowly, encircling me. My throat tightens. The air seeps out of the room. The candle flickers and goes out.”

Darkness.

To be continued…

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The Dream

I had a dream the other night where I was surrounded by people from my community, “the elders” you might say. A contingency approached quite abruptly to inform me that I was late on a payment that I was responsible for as executor of my grandmother’s estate. The payment had been $50, but now that it was late I had to pay $10,000!

“What?!”

Their faces were quite serious.

“Are you crazy?”

“No, you owe us $10,000 and you must pay it immediately!” was their stern reply and I felt them pressing closer as if they might arrest me if I didn’t produce the money right away.

“No!” I screamed back at them. “What, do you think I’m crazy or something? I’m not giving you anything! You can’t control me! You can’t make me do anything! That doesn’t even make sense! What makes you think you can just tell me to do something and I’ll do it? Who are you to tell me what I’m going to do anyway?” And on I went, raving at them, pushing back with all of my might as they tried to press me down.

They seemed confused by my resistance, and the faces of all those surrounding me registered shock–not at the men, but at me! The entire community that stood around watching looked at one another in surprise and I could hear them murmuring, “is this Alice’s grandaughter? Oh my! Alice? Yes! Oh, I just can’t believe it, not Alice’s grandaughter it couldn’t be…”. They were “amazed” that Alice’s grandaughter would “behave” this way!

When I awoke I was tired and could still feel a pressure on my chest, as if I am still being pressed down.  There’s a knot in my throat. It’s a familiar feeling–this pressure… to meet ridiculous expectations, to attain to ridiculous standards and to be someone I’m not.  Maybe it was just a dream.

maybe it wasn’t.

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Prisoner in Paradise–a Parable

Once upon a time a peasant girl met a handsome prince who swept her off her feet and carried her away to his magical kingdom to live “happily ever after.” There he provided her with “everything she could ever want”–a gorgeous castle, fancy clothes, servants and chariots. Eventually, she even gave birth to two beautiful children. It seemed the peasant girl, indeed, had “everything”! She was certainly the envy of all the citizens in the kingdom. Yet, deep in her heart, the peasant girl was unhappy and the prince could not understand why.  After all, he had given her “everything.” He offered her more things, but she turned them away. He tried to impress her with his heroic deeds and commendations, but she was unimpressed. With each day, month and year the peasant girl-turned princess became increasingly depressed.

Then, one day, she was gone!

No one in the kingdom could find her. The servants searched her quarters, the children searched the gardens, the prince searched the bedroom. She was nowhere to be found. Suddenly, the maid came rushing in from the kitchen waving a slip of paper. It was a note that read:

Dear Beloved,

When I was a peasant girl I was confined to my father’s house. I had to obey him and abide by his rules. When I became a woman I left my father’s house but was, again, subject to a man’s rule. I have spent my entire life longing to be free. I loved my father and I love my husband. They are both good men who have been good to me, but the person who I long to be can not exist in captivity, even if it looks like paradise! I am more than a daughter, a wife and a mother. I am also a poet, an artist, a speaker, but you’ve never heard my voice! How could you? In this kingdom it is drowned out by so many other sounds… So, I had to get away…to hear the sound of my own voice!

I wonder how many women can relate to the princess in this story? Feeling like a “prisoner in paradise” who can–or should–not complain about a “good” life with a husband and children who love you, but also feeling completely underwhelmed and unfulfilled because you have your own dreams and ambitions that have been set aside for theirs?  I’ve struggled with many of the “safe” choices I’ve made, wondering if I should have taken some risks instead.

But, where does the princess in this story go? She leaves the safety of the kingdom–the protection of her prince and the surety of his purse! She’s on her own without his advice and she’ll have to figure out how to navigate the wilderness all by herself! She dares to venture out after years of pampered, protected and privileged captivity. What does she feel now that she’s gone? Fear? Freedom? Both? Will she succeed or will she fail? Will she hear her own voice or will it be drowned out by a cacophony of sounds she never anticipated? Your/her/our plot thickens!

To be continued…

slipper

 

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