In defense of “Cinderella”: is she really a weak Disney princess?

Here is the Twitter thread in which I found this video.   It’s a good explanation of why Cinderella, far from being weak and shallow (only interested in a dress and a man), is actually incredibly brave and a wonderful example of a strong woman who was her family’s scapegoat and eventually, through her own strong will and by remaining a good person, escaped from her abusive family and still retained her compassion and humanity.

Twitter thread by Lia (edited for clarity):

Cinderella gets a bad rep for being considered a weak Disney princess; a bad role model. But she’s literally one of the strongest! think about it.  She was a victim of being abused by her stepfamily for years, yet still remained a kind and caring person throughout all the verbal and mental torture.

Cinderella overcame her situation in the 1950 Disney classic due to retribution for her kindness and optimism. She remained positive through it, truly believing one day she would have the opportunity to escape her family and make her life better for herself every chance she got.

“She waited for the prince to come and save her” is one argument used against her.  But no, she didn’t wait for the prince to come save her. She wasn’t even looking for a man the entire film. She just wanted ONE night of fun to completely enjoy herself by going to this ball.

Let me remind you of this: when Cinderella went to the ball and danced with Prince Charming, she wasn’t aware of who he was and it wasn’t her intention to fall in love. She thought she was dancing with just some guy and didn’t discover he was the prince ‘til she got home.

My point of this thread in defense of Cinderella is many people hate on her because she didn’t physically fight back or run away.  But look at the time period she lived in.  Women weren’t considered as men’s equals and seen as nothing but the purpose of being a housewife (cook, clean, etc.)

If she had run away from her childhood home, where would she have gone? She would’ve been completely homeless with no money to her name.   Even though she didn’t want to stay, she knew having a roof over head and at least being fed was needed to survive.

In conclusion, if you’re a parent or teacher, reconsider listing Cinderella in the “weak Disney Princess, bad role model for girls” group.   Cinderella was a strong character who overcame being abused and dehumanized for years through her kindness, and found her own way by using the other slipper she had to escape.

 

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Family estrangement.

 

scapegoating

Psychology Today has an interesting article about why family members become estranged.  In most cases, it’s an adult child between the ages of 25 and 35 who initiates the severing of the parent-child relationship.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/domestic-intelligence/201512/the-persistent-pain-family-estrangement.

“A difficult parent is that which the daughter or son experiences as being at the cusp of rejecting the child, or casting them out as a result of disapproval, disgust, or disappointment. When a daughter or son made the difficult decision to sever the relationship, it was usually because they felt that maintaining it was too emotionally costly, that they had to distort their soul into shapes that did not feel right to them in order to please or pacify a parent.”

In other words, No Contact.   I think most cases of an adult child severing their relationship with their parent(s) are due to feeling as if they have already been rejected or emotionally abandoned by the parent, so there isn’t as much guilt over severing contact as there might otherwise be.   But there is still sadness and grief involved, especially during holidays and possibly on birthdays.  The grief isn’t over what was lost so much as what never was or what could have been.

Tragically and unfairly, there is stigma against adults who lack family support or relationships.  Most people don’t really sympathize with you if you are estranged from your family, because they don’t understand it.  Most people think family will always be there for you through thick and thin, and in an ideal world, that is how it should be.  We are tribal creatures, wired for attachment, even as adults.

So when things go wrong and your family has cast you out of their midst, either because you became the scapegoat, or your values or lifestyle are disapproved of by the rest of the family, people from normal, loving families think the problem must be with YOU.  They can’t imagine that any family would cast out or reject one of their own, so you must be the one at fault.    If you have gone No Contact, they think that is a cruel and unusual thing for any adult child to do to the people who gave them life.   But because they weren’t the children of narcissistic parents, and have no clue what being the family scapegoat is like, they cannot understand the pain of staying involved with people who cannot love you unconditionally and are rejecting and abusive toward you even if they haven’t outright cast you out.

Many estranged ACONs are financially vulnerable due to having dismally low self esteem that kept them from acquiring the confidence and drive to be successful in a career or the self esteem to build satisfying, healthy relationships.  Many ACONs are divorced (often from other cold and rejecting abusive or narcissistic types much like their parents), unmarried, impoverished, and lonely.  Many also find it difficult if not impossible to build a surrogate family of close friends, because of their difficulties making friends for the same reasons their other close relationships don’t last.  They simply don’t have the self esteem or social skills needed for that.   A rejecting family who then turns around and blames you for your “failures” (due to not having given you the tools that most children got from their families to do well in life)  is like salt rubbed in an already gaping and infected wound.   It’s beyond unfair.  Add to that the sad fact that scapegoated adult children are usually left out of any will, if there is one.

Social service agencies and charities don’t help much.  They are temporary measures at best, and have limited resources.  They don’t love you unconditionally like a family would; in fact, they don’t really care.   So scapegoated and marginalized adult children often have no resources to which they can turn when things are rough (and they usually are).  They are vulnerable in every way it is possible to be vulnerable, due to poor mental and often physical health and without the means or the tools or the friends and family to give them support when they most need it.   Then, much like their own families did, society blames them for their failures and poverty, telling them it’s their own fault they have so few resources and insults them by calling them worthless drains on society.  It wouldn’t surprise me if it turned out that most homeless people were the scapegoated children of narcissistic families.  Having been dealt such a lousy hand in life’s lottery, you’d think there’d be more suicides among estranged adult children.   But the survival instinct is strong with us.   It had to be, or we wouldn’t still be here.

The price of being the most emotionally honest member in a narcissistic family is a high one.

“I have no childhood memories because my N-mom threw out my ‘garbage’.”

trash_can

Recently I read that looking at photos of our childhoods can help us heal.   It can hurt to see how lost we looked or watch the real body language of yourself and other family members in reaction to you, but it can also shed light on the truth and prove to us that we really weren’t crazy.

I don’t have more than 8 photos of myself as a child and almost all of them are of me by myself.   A large pastel portrait of me at about age 6 my father proudly used to hang over the mantel has been lost for years (I suspect it was thrown away).  I remember sitting for it in Old Town, Chicago, wearing a yellow summer dress, and how proud I was to sit in front of that bohemian street artist.  It was one of my few happy childhood memories and was a special moment with my father.   I remember looking slightly sad in the portrait though, and remember my dad saying he rather liked the sad look in my eyes, even though I don’t recall being sad as I sat for that portrait and emotions that weren’t “positive” were always dismissed or scolded anyway.  I would really love to have that portrait now.  In fact, I long for it. I’ve even been trying to figure out how one would go about placing an ad asking if anyone had seen that painting (I don’t think that would be possible or that anyone would have seen it anyway).

No one seems to know where any of the old family albums that had me in them are, and I doubt they would want to hang onto them, so my guess is they were tossed at some point as trash (my mother always hated clutter).  I guess any memory of me is just clutter as well.  My emotions were not acceptable; I was not acceptable.  Why keep any reminders that I existed?

I have no family, no continuity to any kind of past or any roots.  I feel like an orphan and have felt that way for years.  Sure, some could say that I threw them away (moving far away from them, No Contact, etc.) but I was pushed away emotionally and every other way for years before I decided that any further contact with them, especially my mother, was just too triggering and painful.

Evidently I’m not alone.  There’s a whole thread on Reddit about just this.

Scapegoated adult children find themselves in this position a lot, without even any pictures or tangible objects to help them better remember their childhoods.  This is another way narcissistic parents hobble us — by not even allowing us to access photos and mementos that could bring us clarity into the role we served within our families and the reactions of other family members to us.   Tangible things that give us a sense of having come from somewhere, of having belonged to something, even if it wasn’t a very good something.  Tools to help us heal were denied to us, just like everything else.   It’s as bad as having your face ripped out of every picture your family ever had of you.   As if they were trying to erase you.

Nothing makes me angrier than this.

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Seeing Red by cosmohibdon, Deviantart.

This came up in the comments section of my last post.  Nothing makes me angrier than people who tell you, “why don’t you ask your family for help?” when something bad happens and you mention you are in need of financial or emotional support.

I’m not in that situation right now, by the grace of God, but I have been.  Many times.  And I could never ask my family for help, either emotional or financial, because they’d either (a) say no; or (b) tell me all the reasons why I was being “entitled” and put me on a guilt trip for asking.  And the answer would still usually be no.   If it wasn’t no, there were always strings attached.  But that was as rare as blue diamonds.

Whenever I’ve asked my family for support in the past, they made me feel about 2 inches tall, like how dare I ask for help at my age.  At my age, I should be self-sufficient and never have to rely on family for anything.  I’ve taken care of myself my whole adult life, and have hardly leaned on them more than I absolutely had to.   I avoid asking them for anything and have not in years, even when most people would have.   The shame involved in asking is too painful.   Even if, say, I was about to become homeless or was terminally ill, I still wouldn’t ask them for anything.   I’d rather die first, and that’s not an exaggeration.  I doubt they’d care much.  Once I turned 18, their responsibility to me was done.   No one even paid for my college education, though my parents were far from poor and could have afforded it. I had to work full time and take out student loans. I didn’t  even qualify for grants because I wasn’t living at home with my parents.  They wouldn’t allow me to.

I remember when I was temporarily homeless during my divorce, and my mother told me to go live in a homeless shelter.  With the kids.  That’s how “caring” and “loving” these people are.   She also sent an email to my father talking about how “she never learns from her mistakes” but she accidentally sent it to me!   When I confronted her about her “mistake” (I think it was intentional), instead of apologizing or attempting to explain (of course there was no good explanation for this), she laughed and said “well, maybe it’s for the best you saw that.”   She laughed!  Talk about no empathy.  Another time she told me I should become a nun and go live in a convent and get my needs met that way.   She wasn’t joking.

Yet, oddly, she was there for me when my kids were born, helping out when I was recovering from my C-sections.  She seemed genuinely caring and concerned too, and was wonderful with the babies.  I appreciated her help then and actually believed she might have changed.    But soon after I returned to work, it was back to business as usual.

Now I’m No Contact with her, I still hear about how she badmouths me to her other relatives (I’m a “loser” who “never learns from my mistakes.”)  If I died, I bet she would blame me, saying things like, “well, she never could get it together and just got what she deserved.”   She always found a way to take everyone else’s side but mine, even for things that weren’t my fault.  She just always assumed it was me at fault and never gave me the benefit of the doubt, no matter what the situation. She’s a terrible human being but I still don’t hate her.

Maybe people who assume you can go to your family when you need help are well-meaning, and because THEY have supportive, loving families, who always have their back, they assume everyone else does too.  Well, that is not the case, not everyone does.  Especially when you’re the family scapegoat.   People should realize that and not ask.   It’s rude.

When people ask me why I don’t ask my family for help or support, I just look them dead in the eyes and say, “my family’s all dead.”   That usually shuts them up pretty fast.

I hate tailgaters almost as much as people who tell me I should rely on my family for support, but not quite as much, and that’s saying a lot because I think all tailgaters should be lined up and shot.

Protected: Sick of being treated like I’m retarded.

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Dear Father…

dear_father_____by_tamingthetiger-d3iyrad
“Dear Father” by Taming the Tiger

I usually shy away from anything too spiritual or religious, because I do realize many of my readers are atheist, agnostic, or of differing faiths–and I respect their right to believe as they wish.   But today in church when the priest asked us to “add our own prayers,” I felt inspired to pray a particular prayer that has great meaning to me, for a myriad of reasons.   I would like to share it here, so maybe others can join me in prayer for these things that are so important to me.

*****

Dear Father,

You have created us all in your own image. I don’t believe you have left anyone out of your great bounty and the hope for eternal life, in spite of what some Christians and others believe.      I don’t believe that Christ’s death on the cross was a “limited atonement” meant only for a select few (as Calvinists believe).   I believe he died for us all, and offers all of us the chance for redemption and healing, no matter how hopeless things may seem.

PTSD, C-PTSD, and narcissistic abuse survivors.

God, please shower your grace and compassion on all victims of narcissistic abuse and all people suffering from PTSD and C-PTSD, that they may find comfort in your arms and be able to trust again, realize that there is still goodness in the world, and eventually, that they may find loving, healthy relationships and friendships that do not turn abusive.  Many survivors have turned to you when everyone else seemed to be turning away from them and rejecting them, and found that you were there and were listening.  But many, especially if they were rejected or scapegoated by their own families, are so damaged they have trouble trusting anyone at all, even You.   Please give them the courage to turn to you when things are at their darkest and it seems like they have no allies.  Please help them to trust you, and to heal from abuse, regain their sense of self worth and self-esteem,  and be whole and happy again. Please show them that what happened to them didn’t happen in vain, and that they are so much stronger than they realize because of the adversity they had to face.  Please let them feel the loving arms of Jesus Christ holding and protecting them from harm.  Guide them on the path to become whole again, and to use what they learned to help others heal, should that be your will for them.

Also, although anger is a necessary stage of healing (in order to leave an abusive situation or person), please allow victims who become trapped in their anger and hatred to be able to move on from it, because only then will healing be possible.   I’ve seen too many survivors who remain so mired in rage that they take on the traits of their abusers and acquire a victim mentality that does not allow them to move forward in their journey to healing.

As for myself, please don’t let me stray from the path you have set me on, which is beginning to be revealed to me. Please don’t allow me to become bogged down by envy, selfishness, or pride.   Don’t allow me to let my own will get in the way of what you have planned for me, for whenever I have forced my own will, it always turned out to be all wrong.

People with NPD, BPD and other Cluster B disorders.

God, please show these broken people who have made so many bad choices and act out toward others–usually because as children they were shamed for their own vulnerability by abusive caregivers or parents–that they do not need to rely on primitive defense mechanisms, abusive or aggressive behavior, or a “false self” in order to survive and be happy.   Please show them the beauty of their own inner vulnerability and that being sensitive can be a great strength and is never a weakness.   Please lift the scales from their eyes and show them that the things they have learned to believe about themselves and others are lies–and the truth is the opposite of what they have always believed.  Please remove the fear and shame  keeps them trapped inside cold, dark walls that separate them from their own vulnerability and the light of your grace.   If there’s a glimmer of their original soul left in them, please help that spark grow like a mustard seed within them and burn away the darkness that surrounds it.  Make them aware that their defense mechanisms are only allowing them to live the stunted, painful life of an emotional cripple, and that by jettisoning authentic feeling, they also jettison love, empathy and joy. With fewer people with narcissism and other “predatory” disorders in the world, there will be fewer abuse victims too.

In particular, please make my mother aware of what has happened to her (due to no fault of her own) and what she became, even at her very advanced age.   Even if it’s too late for her to be healed, at least remove the scales from her eyes and allow her the grace of redemption.

Our increasingly narcissistic society. 

Over the past 30 – 40 years, our western society–especially in America–has become increasingly cold, callous, lacking in empathy and compassion, materialistic, hubristic, and narcissistic.   Wealth and power are valued over compassion and love.   Individual achievement is valued over community involvement.   Greed and an “I got mine!” attitude is valued over altruism and compassion for the less fortunate.

Even families buy into this lie to the point of scapegoating family members who fail to “keep up” (or who are vulnerable or attempt to expose the family dysfunction).    Intolerance of those who are different, hatred, and racism abound.   Every day people die because they are the wrong color, wrong religion, or have a lifestyle that the Powers That Be believe is wrong.  Our society is like a huge dysfunctional family, complete with its narcissistic and abusive leaders, its golden children, and its scapegoats.  This should not be the case.  God,  please heal the hatred and fear that permeate our society and keeps people from being neighborly and charitable toward one another.  Please make dysfunctional families whole and healthy again, and give the scapegoats of both society and of dysfunctional families relief from their suffering and pain.  Make “the least of these” realize they are as worthwhile and valuable to you as the powerful ruling class who seems to have every earthly thing.

I ask these things in the name of your son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Words of comfort for the scapegoat.

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psalm2710

The day you realize it never was you.

“First you start to feel like maybe there never was anything wrong with you.  That perhaps the people you called family were just horrible human beings that foisted their nefarious motives on you.  They lied about you, about your worthlessness and your unlovableness and your hopeless loser life.  Lies!”

Katie, Dreams of a Better World Blog

*****

I read somewhere (sorry, I can’t remember the source) that the “truth teller” who usually becomes the scapegoat of a narcissistic family, is actually the most mentally healthy family member, even if the family has everyone convinced that person is the craziest one.

 

When a scapegoat dances in the love of God

This post just begs to be reblogged.

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Losing the false “I’m unlovable” scapegoat baggage

Katie has done it again! I could relate to every single word in this post. I could have written this myself.  There’s no need for me to editorialize any further.

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