I have a tendency to say that Mr CK saved me, rescued me, etc. from the abusive relationship I was in prior to meeting him. He’s always pushed back against these statements but it was only during a conversation the other day that I was able to not only understand why but also come around to his way of thinking.
He never rescued me. I rescued me.
You see, I am Dorothy.
[You’ve read or watched The Wizard of Oz, right? If you haven’t, please drop everything, educate yourself immediately, and come back to this post later.]
Dorothy is dropped in Oz partly as a result of her own decisions (running away from home during a tornado = arguably not the best idea, but we don’t blame her because she’s a kid,) but mainly as a result of bad luck (because who coulda guessed the tornado was gonna pick up her house and literally dump her in another world?)
I landed in a bad relationship partly due to my own decisions in holding poor personal boundaries and staying time and time again after episodes of abuse (though I do not blame myself for this and you shouldn’t either,) but mainly as a result of a person exploiting my feelings for them and an unequal power dynamic to gain control.
Lots of people remember that Glinda, the good witch, gives Dorothy the ruby slippers that eventually get her out of Oz and safely home. The readings of this tend to go along two lines – either Glinda is the rescuer who gets Dorothy home, or Glinda is a massive asshole for letting Dorothy go through all the angst of the rest of the story before giving her the last piece of the puzzle. I think both of these readings miss the point.
Glinda: You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.
Dorothy: I have?
Scarecrow: Then why didn’t you tell her before?
Glinda: She wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.
It’s there. That’s it in those four lines.
She had the power all along.
Just as I always had the power to get out of that relationship. And people merely telling me this made no difference – do you not think friends had been begging me to get out for years? Do you not think Mr CK, quietly in love with me from the sidelines, had begged me to get out – whether my leaving would result in he and I being together or not? None of that was what made me finally do it.
Glinda gives Dorothy the magic slippers, but that’s all. The rest, our young heroine does for herself (with a little help from her friends.) Mr CK showed me a door, and something beautiful – my freedom – on the other side of it. He said, hey, you can get out of Oz. But you have to choose it for yourself. But the rest? That I did for myself.
The difference between this and all the other times someone had said “hey, CK, this guy seems like kinda bad news!” wasn’t that someone swept in like a knight on horseback and whisked me away. The difference was that I’d seen the truth and I couldn’t unsee it. The difference was that I wasn’t being passively told things any longer – I had learned it for myself.
I was the one who clicked my heels together three times and said, “I deserve better than this!”
[Yes, I realise that my Beloved is a lady in a floofy pink dress in this metaphor.]