Evil Queens and Open Hearts

This whole opening my heart thing has turned out to be really scary, so I’ve been avoiding it for the past few weeks. My favorite escape has been binge watching the TV show Once Upon a Time. Luckily, I’m almost done with the third and final season on Netflix, though finishing it will provide only temporary salvation—there’s a new season coming soon.

The show is nominally about fairy tale characters who get stuck in Maine because of a curse, but really it’s about abandonment, love, and forgiveness. What I’ve learned so far is that emotionally wounded fairy tale characters protect their hearts by not letting other fairy tale characters love them. Or by removing their hearts and sticking them in boxes. Though we non-magic types don’t have the latter option, I suspect we share the former trait.

What’s so risky about letting others love us? Clearly, when you let someone love you and love that person in return, the evil villain will have power over you because you don’t want to see that person hurt. Or, if you’re not being threatened by an evil villain, you might be terrified by—I might be terrified by—the transformative power of love.

Transformation is a tricky thing because we don’t control it. We don’t know where we’re going to end up when we start down the road. Two of the most evil characters in the show turn into heroes because of love. While that sounds like a good thing, that’s a pretty profound identity change to navigate. Who are you if you’re not who you’ve always told yourself you are?

So protecting one’s heart is, on the one hand, a completely rational thing to do. The problem is, at least on the show, the characters who do that end up miserable, lonely, and rather destructive toward those around them. I think that result probably occurs on Earth as well as in the Enchanted Forest.

But if we do choose to open our hearts, we might find ourselves happy, though more likely at a beginning than an ending.

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