Tuesday, May 19, 2015

How believing in "Happy Endings" saved my life

Recently, an imaginary friend of mine asked me, "Why would anyone write a book with a happy ending? It's so cliche, unrealistic, and boring." So, I slapped her across the face. As she held her cheek, and her eyes welled with tears, but before she could burst out with the cliched cry of "What the hell did you do that for?"  I said, "Didn't you wish we had ended this conversation with a sappy 'happy ending' instead of a slappy, realistic one?"

All joking and exempla aside, I like to write happy endings. I do. Not because I don't know how much life sucks, but because I know intimately how much it can.  There have been times in my life where I have fallen to the floor crying just wishing god, any god, would cut to the chase and kill me instead of sadistically toying with me. I have nearly blacked out from hearing news that was so bad. I grew up in one of the worst projects in America. People died in the elevators and were raped in the stairwells.

I have been terrified and crushed under the weight of life. I have lain down pretending I was beaten, so, hopefully Life would get tired of kicking me and go on to someone else. But oddly, She never did. She just kept hauling back her foot until I got up and punched her in the face and said, " I am sick of this. I am not going to ever quit, and you are never going to stop testing my resolve never to quit. So, bring it!"

"Wow!" says my friend, still holding her swelling cheek. "Why don't you write about that? Why don't you write gritty stories about your tear-stained life? That's what I would love to read." Yes, well, that would be great if writing about that crap did not take me back into the abyss of the past. It has taken all my strength to crawl away, and I don't relish the idea of skipping back down the bloody and broken-glass-filled path of memory lane.  Besides, I believe in energy. If you seek the light the light will come. If you chase the darkness that too will come. I prefer to put the darkness behind me as much as possible.

With that said, I will tell you, that without the hope of a happy ending, without the dream that something can conquer hate, selfishness, madness, pain--something like Love--I would not have survived my childhood or most of my adult life. It was that belief that helped me get up when I was down, helped me find the light when I was surrounded by darkness. Believing in happy endings is not sappy or trivial or unrealistic. It is the battle-cry of the unvanquished, the song of the unconquered heart,  the light that will not fade. It is the belief that the true self, the bright soul will overcome all obstacles in time.

So, when my imaginary friend says her glass is half-empty and that life sucks,  I will agree with her some of the time. Then I will remind her, gently at first, and then with the zen-slap she deserves, that life glows, shouts, sings, and makes you fall to your knees in awe sometimes too. And maybe she will say, she hasn't gotten her happy ending and that is why she does not believe in them. I'll remind her that the phrase "happily ever after" like everything else in fairy tales is an exaggeration (there are no handsome princes inside frogs or big furry monsters). There really is no such thing as just one final happy ending. There are many happy moments and many sad ones because life is a cycle that goes on and on,  So, when the bad times come, I hold on because I know the good ones will return too like spring and flowers after winter. So, yes, bring me those happy endings, tell me that good conquers evil, that the pure of heart no matter what darkness she faces will overcome because I know she will again and again. I am living proof. I bet you are too.

Candice Raquel Lee
Author of  The Innocent: A Love Story  

and Effed Up: An Abnormal Romance