Humanly Ever After

Ever heard of fairy tale therapy?

Neither had I.

But the more I researched, the more it made complete and utter sense. After all, we’re all living out our own fairy tales, right? So by rewriting our own life story, we’re turning the tables on our nightmares. Showing that we’re in control.

Dr. Silvia Hartmann, who runs a fairy tale therapy program called Project Sanctuary,  sums it up thusly:

“Once someone has learned through fairy tale therapy that they get to write their own story, in the widest possible metaphorical sense, we have achieved something extremely precious; something we might as well call freedom.”

There are four methods of treatment through this program:

  1. Rewrite a fairy tale that troubles you.
  2. Write a new fairy tale that overpowers the upsetting messages in the old one.
  3. Evolve a fairy tale, or write what happens after “happily ever after”
  4. Take control of symbols and archetypes in fairy tales

It’s a very interesting program, and if you want to read more about it, click here.

Ethan and I decided that we should really try writing fairy tales ourselves if that’s what we’re asking kids to do. What is it like? Traumatic? Cathartic? Acrobatic? (Probably not that last one.)

So I took a stab at it, and the story below is what I came up with. Am I healed forever? No. Am I more at peace with certain parts of myself? I think so. Try it. See what happens. There is no miracle cure for the illness we call the human condition. But there is a way to make ourselves feel less powerless over it, and we can do that for our kids too.

And “humanly ever after” is a good enough ending for me.

“There once was a girl born with a black cloud over her head. This cloud followed her wherever she went—at first she didn’t see it or even know what it was, but she could sometimes feel it casting a shadow over her. The cloud started out small and light, but sometimes it would pour rain down on her—sheets of black, sticky ink that swallowed her up so she couldn’t move. Some people wondered why she wouldn’t play with the other children, but when she opened her mouth to explain, the black cloud filled her mouth with cotton balls of black ice and

she c o u l d n ’t      s p  e   k….

The worst part was when other people’s clouds joined with her cloud to make a


Then it would





for days and days, weeks and weeks, years on end—sheets of DAGGER rain that stung your skin and left you full of holes.

Even after those people went away, the girl felt her cloud still remained a bit darker than before. For a long time, the girl felt different from everyone else around her but she didn’t know why.

Everyone else’s clouds were white and fluffy, why was only hers grey?  Perhaps it was just meant to be that way.

She watched with envy all the white, fluffy clouds that passed by without a care in the world.

One day, the cloud over the girl became so big that it enveloped her—but it wasn’t a white, fluffy cloud hug—it was a NASTY, STICKY, THICK cloud with giant claws that wrapped around her and wouldn’t let go.

The girl wanted to call out, but the cloud was so dense that she couldn’t see through it….

She had resigned herself when she saw a shadow moving through the cloud. It came nearer.

“What are you doing in my cloud?” the voice asked.

“This is MY cloud,” said the girl. “It can’t be yours.”

“No, this is definitely mine,” he said.  “Probably a bit of Carl’s, too.”


“I want to show you something. “

The boy and the girl went to a park where they sat on a bench.

“Look at the people,” he said.

“I know, I know, they all have fluffy, white clouds.”

“Look harder.”

As the girl looked closely at a man walking by, she noticed that soft, grey droplets were falling lightly from his cloud. Across the street, another woman hurried along, fending off a dark grey cloud with her umbrella.

“It’s always raining somewhere,” he said.

Suddenly the girl stood on the bench and screamed at the top of her lungs:


She began dancing on the bench, and slowly, people stopped, curious, and began to join in.

As more people joined, the clouds above became heavier and heavier until it

poured rain

and the ground f l o o d e d.

As the water gathered around their ankles, the people danced in the park, undaunted for a moment by the stormy weather.

And they all lived humanly ever after.”