I was with my girlfriends — in Disney World, actually — in line for Space Mountain and we were talking about girly girl stuff and I mentioned how much marriage freaks me out. “It’s probably because of The Little Mermaid,” I said.
They didn’t follow. “You know, the end scene, where Ariel has to leave her father?”
For years I had thought it was a universal feeling of sadness to watch Ariel run away, on legs, with someone of a different species to leave her loving father forever. I shouldn’t just say it made me cry when I first saw it at age five (it did), or that it still makes me cry now (it does), but it has actually affected me as an adult in a pretty profound way. When I was little, the idea of leaving my dad was the saddest thing I could possibly wrap my brain around, and it still is. That end scene where Ariel and Prince Eric walk off into the sunset didn’t make me think of “Happily Ever After” — it made me think Ariel’s life was over. It depressed me.
I thought everyone thought this. I mean, how was that scene not the saddest thing ever? The problem is that I have not gotten over it. Marriage, to me, still symbolizes leaving behind my family, my dad, and the person I have known for 28 years. I think if I were to walk down the aisle with my dad and have him leave me at the altar, I would start convulsing in tears. I might not make it.
I know how silly that is. And maybe I will get married some day. But something in my brain is going to have to change before that happens. I’m going to have to grow up. After all, if I get married, I will hopefully not be marrying someone from another species and live in another ecosystem with them. We have to warn little girls that life is not like a fairy tale so they don’t have unrealistic expectations about love. I think I need to absorb the same message: You are not The Little Mermaid.
Off to therapy, now! I have issues. Although, while Freud may disagree, I know that I don’t have sex-related issues with my dad. I think it’s more about growing up. But have any of you ever thought this way?