How I Realized I'm My Own Prince Charming

There is nothing more socially constructed than the story of true love. The idea that some royal prince will come and save you from all the blues in your life. You’ll meet them at the perfect time, fall in love immediately, and all will be bright.

The story ends with the two of you riding a horse towards a castle and beautiful sunset. The quintessential phrase, “And they lived happily ever after.”

I was always a romantic. I believed some faultless man would come and rescue me from my grief and trauma. He would sweep me off my feet, and I would leave bad moments in the past. My dream was to meet a boy at the age of 15 and stay with him until we married. 

couple holding hands Adriana Velasquez

At 13, I met a drug addict. At 16, a boy cheated on me with my best friend. When I turned 18, I dated my best friend’s cousin. As a freshman in college, I sabotaged a relationship with the perfect guy in the quick span of eight months. 

Tragedy struck when I was sexually assaulted by a stranger who gained my trust only to take advantage of me. But that wasn’t going to let my dream go away. My prince had to be somewhere, right? Traumatized, anxious, and living with PTSD, I continued my quest to find the man who would prove I could still be saved. I’m not religious, but I prayed to all gods for someone who could fill the hole created in my soul by heartbreak after heartbreak. The last one had left me at rock bottom. Yet I was still searching for a light at the end of the tunnel, ideally in the shape of a partner. 

I truly don’t understand how after all that trauma I was still open to meeting boys. I found value in them being attracted to me, so boy after boy, I fell in love quickly and was disappointed quicker. I couldn’t pinpoint the reason why all of these relationships ended as soon as they started. My idea of love looked like it was becoming more and more distant. 

I developed an addiction to short and emotional flings that could make me feel something. They were brief but enough to make me feel alive again. They momentarily entertained my belief that it was a partner’s duty to complete me. Most of my past relationships had ended in failure. Why not have little emotional connections that could spice things up for a couple of days? Almost always, I let the other person down or ghosted them out of boredom or my realization that I wasn’t actually that interested. 

i love you card Naomi Irons on Unsplash

Then came Emiliano. I met him in design school, during the two years I took off DU to rehabilitate my mental health. He teased me the first day, invited me to a date the next, and by the third we were holding hands in a movie theater. It was the most movie-like love story I’ve ever experienced. It was emotional, dramatic, toxic, and slowly imploding. I clung to him as one would to a lifesaver. I suffocated him to the point where he couldn’t tolerate me and got aggressively exasperated by my controlling behavior. In my mind, the thought of him leaving me would break my heart forever. He was my last chance at finding a prince. 

I had passionate emotional connections in the past, but I had never been fully in love. I never understood the idea of it until I met Emiliano. We were each other’s world for two years until things got so toxic and dependent that he broke up with me on my birthday, bringing this violent relationship to an end. 

I cried for days, weeks, and months. I was back to square one. I didn’t know it, but the pressing feeling in my chest wasn’t because I had lost Emiliano. It was because I was by myself again with no one to save me. 

Person Alone on a dock Pexels

That August, I packed my bags, planned a trip abroad, and left home for four months (sorry to Dad’s wallet). I arrived in Italy with the intent to start over. But guess what? I met a man the first day I got there. I was drawing under an Italian church when he approached me and asked about my drawings. We spent the day talking about life and walking the beautiful streets of the Italian city of Siena. When night came, we went to a bar where his friends were. We got dinner and drinks, and we danced until 2 a.m. I thought, maybe I had finally found my prince! He was nice, and he was Italian. But at the end of the night, I found out he didn’t want to talk to me if I wouldn’t sleep with him. It had lasted less than 24 hours – a personal record. 

After that day, I established a no-men rule and committed to exploring Italian culture on my own. My toxic self couldn’t help but talk to Emiliano once in a while, but he was miles away. His presence in my life felt more and more like a memory. I traveled on my own and kept a diary full of poems and the places I visited. I ate gnocchi, lasagna, and every type of pasta there was.

Airplane Wing Towards Clouds Sheila / Pexels  

Traveling alone sparked an introspective light inside of me. I was on my own, yet I was the happiest I had ever been. 

I not only fluently speak Italian now but have come back to DU and learned how to live independently and balance two jobs with volunteer work. I achieved all of this through my motivations and efforts. Without knowing it, I became my own life savior. 

Through reflecting with my therapist, I’ve realized the hole I felt on my chest was never going to be fixed by a partner. I dug myself deeper by expecting others to be ready and prepared to lift me up. No one but me had the strength to do so. Society sells the idea of love as two halves completing a whole. But I’m already whole. My love story should be based on finding another whole who wants to accompany me in this rollercoaster of a life I’m living. 

I’m currently dating a boy, and it is the healthiest relationship I have ever been in. We don’t depend on each other’s existence, but I like the world better when I’m next to him. I may have someone to ride into the sunset with, but I could also do that on my own. I am my own Prince Charming.