Gift in Strange Wrapping

Once upon a time there was a princess who'd done lots of spiritual work. She'd cleaned her chakras, healed her life, and had the courage to live her dreams. One day she met a prince, whom she came to know and love as her best friend. They spent hours together talking, not even noticing the time go by. They went for long walks together, worked out together, even went grocery shopping together (something the princess really hated to do alone).

When she was upset, he calmed her. When she got mad, he was a safe place for her to go. When she was sick, he sat the entire day with her head in his lap, making sure she rested. No matter what happened, he was always there for her, as a lover and a friend.

As if that weren't enough, the prince came from a wonderful, close-knit, loving family. The princess' family was rent by divorce, with her siblings and parents scattered across the country. In his family she found the kind of family she'd always wanted; loving and supportive of each other, parents still happily married after 40 years. Once a week, the prince and princess dined at the home of his family's friends. They welcomed her as one of them, and said how glad they were the prince had finally met the right girl.

Soon the prince moved in with the princess, and they became even closer, finding the home of their dreams and planning their wedding. The princess loved the prince with all her heart. Sometimes she looked at him while he slept and was overcome with feelings of safety and peace like she had never known. The two of them talked about how they had been together in another life, and would doubtless be together forever.

They set the wedding date, invited all their friends, and planned to move into their dream house just months before the wedding. They went and picked out her very first wedding dress, and she felt that the long love she had always wanted was here at last. It was a very auspicious occasion.

Trouble in Paradise

A few weeks later, the princess found out that the prince had lied about a few things. The house he claimed was his, was actually his parent's. Some checks he wrote to pay her bills bounced. He told her he'd sent cashier's checks to cover the bad checks, but the copies he gave her to prove it were forged, by him. The trips he took her on, it turned out, he paid for by using her credit cards. (He also used them to pay some of his own bills.) To hide this fact, he stole her mail so she wouldn't get her bills and see the charges. One lie unraveled to reveal another and another, then another.

Stunned and crying, the princess called the prince's mother, who asked, "Didn't you know he'd been to jail?" And then she learned that the prince had a criminal record for fraud and theft, and had just gotten out of federal prison a few years earlier.

Devastated, she asked his family why no one ever told her about his criminal record. She would never have let him in the door had she known. And they answered, "We asked him, and he said he had told you." (Note to well-meaning families: If there is someone in your family with a history of chronic dishonesty, it is best not to trust them to tell the truth about themselves. Toxic family secrets have a way of poisoning people's lives.)

The end.

Not really, just the start of another chapter. Spiritually-oriented people all know that it never ends. This story actually happened to a close friend of mine. When it did, I wondered, what is the moral of this fairy tale gone wrong? That true love is a cruel farce, destined to end in disappointment? That men are predators, who will use you and break your heart? That the princess was just a gullible fool?

Of course not. I know that true love exists, that there are wonderful men out there, and that the real sucker was the one who gave up a lifetime of happiness for a few bucks. Sadder but wiser, my friend can take this as the gift that it is, however strangely wrapped.

Henry Ford once said, "Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently." He said this after the million-dollar factory he had failed to insure, burned to the ground. We all make mistakes. What can my friend learn from hers?

Forewarned is Forearmed

The princess can choose to make lemons into lemonade. She can use what she learned to keep someone else from going through the same thing. The princess saw many "signs" that said this was the man for her. Her spiritual friends who met him confirmed that he was a good man. Against the backdrop of his successful, loving family, he seemed to everyone to be exactly who he said he was.

But in this day and age of identity theft, it's not enough to check out their chakras. The prince was a good actor, a good liar, and totally unscrupulous. He managed to fool many people, but he couldn't have passed a background check. Twenty bucks on the internet (go to Search - Criminal History to get a wealth of sites to choose from) would have told my friend all she needed to know.

And no matter how wonderful, loving, and supportive your new partner may be, make it a point to keep your private stuff private. Like money, checks, access to your credit card account numbers, or your mail. They really don't need to know these things to be your soul mate.

If your new partner claims to have something (such as a home or a large bank account), don't think it's a lack of trust to ask for proof when things get serious. Of course, if they're good at forging documents, they may still fool you. Independent verification is best.

The prince was so good at forging copies of checks and bank statements, you would swear they were the real thing. But a phone call to his bank soon told the princess what she needed to know. It's not the end of innocence; it's the birth of a new wisdom.

Can't Take That Away

Second, my friend can decide that she will not let someone else's dishonesty sour her on one of the happiest times of her life. There's nothing wrong with loving like your heart has never been broken. It doesn't matter what he was thinking during all of those times that meant so much to her. It was real to her, and no one can take that away from her. Least of all, him.

You get out of something what you put into it, and scientists say the brain cannot distinguish between fantasy and reality if it's experienced deeply enough. She put whole-hearted love and trust into her relationship, and that is what she experienced. The gifts she gave are hers to keep. He put in deceit and manipulation, so he will never know the richness she enjoyed. Poor man, he gave up so much for so little.

Live and Learn

Last of all, my friend now gets to "walk her talk." She often tells others they need to go through their pain instead of avoiding it. Now she gets a chance to do it herself.

My friend had trouble sleeping after this experience. It seems one memory after another flooded her mind, as the pieces fell into place. The tender moments of love juxtaposed with his hidden dishonesty. Try sleeping through that.

But it gave her so much energy, so much desire to keep her left brain busy so her right brain wouldn't be, that she found herself prolifically focusing on her work, to keep the painful memories at bay. Pain can be cleansing, burning away the dross to leave only what is real. She gained insight and compassion for her clients' suffering through her own. And that made her a better, more dedicated professional.

These are some of the gifts my friend got from this situation, yet the question still comes…why? In response, a quote from the teaching called Emmanuel's Book comes to mind: "Trust life, my friends. However far afield life seems to take you, this trip is necessary." It all comes back to trust. Trust in yourself, and in Life. Life is here for you; it is here to support you. Whether we know it or not, all is well. And so it is.

Mindy L. Hitchcock