This is what happened when I stopped wishing for my happy ending
My entire life if I had to think of examples of happy endings my mind would conjur moments from countless movies just before the credits rolled. They are the last brief scene where everything is just right and nothing new is introduced to the audience. We are left feeling hopeful, fulfilled, smitten, and at peace with the story and then it ends. In the last few years since my divorce I have found myself wondering, “where is my happy ending?” a self-limiting thought that only brought up feelings of jealousy, self-doubt, and a general feeling of not being deserving.
And then one day a concept popped into my head after percolating in my subconscious and mixing with all the conversations, media influence, reading and journaling in the past months, an insight was born. And I chose to shift my mindset. To admit to myself that I had been going about this all wrong. To apologize to myself for the distraction of seeking out an ending to my story; for this mistaken and exhausting quest for the elusive happy ending. And then I chose to change.
You see for decades in movies and fairy tales the phrase ‘The End’ comes across the screen in ornate font and lingers there, impressing upon on us the completion of the story. But we are being mislead. Because preceding that powerful visual, there is often a golden nugget of wisdom spoken to us that we must choose to hear, “they lived happily ever after.” This is what we should be embracing. Our ever after. A seemingly infinite experience with no set rules or boundaries that often comes into existence after a major turmoil. What defines the ever after to me? Not a prince or a Disney castle, but instead it is the character’s ability to be his or her authentic self and to accept the gift of unconditional love.
I have chosen to stop stressing over my “end” and instead float joyfully-warm and safe here in my limitless ever after. The one I created. The one I deserve. The ever after that reflects the uncovering of my self. The first time I have experienced unconditional love. My ever after is here now and will continue for as long as I let it. It is my creation of beautiful children, a loving and supportive man, a flexible, creative, career, lifelong friends, travel and continuous learning.
We are taught that the end is a goal, a point for us to strive to. But in reality the only thing we don’t have to apply any effort to at all in life is our inevitable end. For me striving for a happy ending was like trying to find inspiration in a spark, brilliant and brief, blink and you’ll miss it. But living in my ever after is like getting to enjoy a warm breeze, soft sand and brilliant sunset that never quite dips below the horizon.
One of my favorite movie lines is from the film, ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’, when the young and flailing hotel manager tells his aged guests, “Everything will be alright in the end, and if it’s not alright, it’s not the end.” As we move through life so many times things are not alright but rarely does that ever equate to our end. If we change our mindset and believe we create our experiences in life, then even when things are not alright, we have the power and opportunity to change them, and incorporate them into our ever after.
And so for me, I have shifted my mindset, reduced my anxiety, hushed the panic that creeps into the mind of the single mom and I no longer ask, “where is my happy ending?” but instead I think with a sense of calmness, “what can I create in this, my happily ever after that will open more doors, lead to more adventure, produce more giggles for my girls?” The ever after is ever changing, spontaneous and full of energy. It is realized when you achieve authenticity in your life, invite only people who will love you unconditionally to accompany you each day and then choose to be vulnerable and honest so that those who love you can fully support you and of all your dreams.