Why I Am No Longer A Damsel In Distress

It’s funny (not really) how you can reach the age of 50 and have no idea who you really are or what kind of programs you have been running (unsuccessfully) your entire life.

Yes – programs. Like a computer. We all install our own programs (usually at a young age) that we think will serve us well. We discover these programs via movies, books, our parents, friends and fairy tales and then we self-install (unwittingly), assuming (based on nothing concrete) that our operating system will benefit.

And then we age and experience and learn and suffer and get disappointed and suffer some more and then if we really, really pay attention we finally choose to decipher those programs, scrutinize them, analyze them and probably realize that they are mostly … shite. Malarkey. Poppycock.

Now that I am past the age of 50, with a multitude of life and love experiences colouring my outlook, I am been forced to confess that one of my most compelling operating systems was “Damsel In Distress”. And no, I do not mean I was a fragile weakling of a woman, waiting in a tower spinning silk whilst awaiting Prince Charming. I mean I was always “looking” for a man to bring meaning to my life. A man to bring joy to my existence. A man to rescue me from the prosaic tedium of everyday life.

Don’t get me wrong … I wasn’t JUST looking for that dude. I was singing and traveling and having fun and sometimes getting into trouble. But there was ALWAYS a GUY somewhere in the picture. And when that guy started to flounder there was always ANOTHER guy waiting in the wings to pick up the pieces. I always had a Plan B. I always solidified Plan B before ditching Plan A.

I was an asshole.

And a Damsel in Distress. Because I fully believed that without that dashing hero I was a useless heroine. Incapable of defining my own existence. I hadn’t read “Paper Bag Princess” and probably wouldn’t have liked it even if I had.

And then my heart’s true desire showed up. Life and love as I had always imagined became real. I was living the dream.

You know. For a minute or two. Until “Heart’s True Desire” moved on and left me a true Damsel In Distress. No Plan B. No guy waiting in the wings.

I was just alone.

And so after a (distressing and pitiful) spell I started dating. But eventually I also started living my own life. Gathering together a girlfriend posse. Volunteering at my son’s school. Singing professionally. All things that had been back-burnered in my ongoing pursuit of LOVE.

It took years. And I mean many, many years. The thing with programs is that when you finally begin to uninstall them, once again you may not even realize you are doing it. You just keep writing new code and trying new systems and then SUDDENLY (not really) you are totally updated. Maybe even upgraded.

My darling ex husband genuinely wanted to be my Knight in Shining Armour. He even said those exact words to me after the third or fourth time I left him. The problem was he just didn’t know how to implement that program and I didn’t understand the manual. We were incapable of communicating (two entirely different operating systems). So even when we scored the occasional win, we always returned to “system malfunction”.

But when I left him the final time for HTD (sounds like a disease but I mean “Heart’s True Desire”) my darling ex found himself in daily communication with HTD’s darling ex. They were in the same boat. They shared the same pain. They got each other instantly and they built on that understanding. She was quite rightly a broken mess and he was a DUDE (also somewhat broken) who could not only empathize with her mess but SAVE her from that mess. She was a Damsel in much Distress and he finally had a program he could implement.

He could rescue her.

And he did.

Some people said it would never last. Rebound and all that stuff.


Fifteen years and still going strong.

Maybe some fairy tales are actually meant to be? Maybe some programs just need to find the right computer?

Okay. I give up on the metaphor.

I am most grateful they found each other and rode off into the sunset. It certainly helped lessen my guilt.

The problem was … I was still desperately running that old program. Waiting for that KISA (Knight in Shining Armour) to rescue me. I mean, I THOUGHT I was. Desperate. I thought I sincerely and desperately wanted a partner.


That was the tipping point. I did NOT want to be rescued. I did not want to be saved and I did not want to spend my life with some guy on a white horse.

I wanted a partner.

So when my first real post-HTD relationship struggled on the brink of extinction, did I revert to that old program and procure Plan B before abandoning Plan A?

I did not.

I came to the rational conclusion that we were simply not a good fit. I bid that lovely boy a fond farewell and I got on with my SOLO life.


I was middle-aged, living in a new town, my son was off on his own adventures and I didn’t have a clue how I was going to function solo. But I knew that clueless on my own was better than clued-in with the wrong mate.

I rescued myself. I paper-bag-princessed the fuck out of my life. There was no prince abandon or to save or find or bow down to or hope for.

Okay not true. Obviously I was still hoping for a prince. Not even a prince. You know, just some cute commoner to augment my already pretty cool life as a teammate. I didn’t need saving from anything.

Talk about a shift in planetary energy!

It took exactly two months for Prince R to show up.

And here, in our tiny kingdom, after more than seven years, he doth remain. Augmenting my life as I hope I do his.

The program I am running these days is decidedly different. If you own a computer or even a phone you already know that if you do not update constantly you get left behind. You become obsolete. You can reboot all you want but eventually that old system needs to be put to rest.


I was a DID (Damsel in Distress) for far too many years. I would have punched you in the face had you called me that (aren’t we a ridiculously proud lot?) but the absolute truth is THAT is exactly what I was.

Now I like to think of myself as a co-president of an international cooperative.

Developing new programs daily. Implementing them, improving them and sharing them.

This ain’t Disneyland. And I ain’t no damsel in distress. There’s no white horse, no shining armour and no happily ever after.

There IS happily right now.

And this is definitely a program I can log on too.

About winesoakedramblings - The Blog of Vickie van Dyke

Writing is therapy. Wine is therapy. Writing while drinking wine is the best therapy. Reading while drinking can also be fun. Listening while drinking is also fun so check out my podcast! And then there's that book (memoir) that I wrote: Confessions of a Potty-Mouthed Chef: How to Cheat, Eat and be Happy! My life has provided me with a wealth of inspiration. Maybe something here will inspire you too? ~Vickie
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