The Cinderella Conspiracy


As a child I loved fairy tales. One of my favorites was Cinderella. As an adult, however, I soon woke up to the reality that life is no fairy tale. What I did not know at that time is that through this story the patriarchy was conditioning me and other young girls to drink indiscriminately from the collective unconscious to facilitate the status quo.  We were conditioned to be good women for whom marriage and the idea of marriage were a major preoccupation. The preoccupation extended to an obsession with finding prince charming as a means of escape from home life, for instance. In the reading of these fairy tales we were being subtly warped by the patriarchy into being passive, subservient, defenseless, and conflict avoiding types in sync with patriarchal dictates. Psychologist Carl Jung explained that there is a human collective unconscious informed by archetypes and universal symbols many of which become embedded in fairy tales (Huff Post 8/23/2016). In the case of Cinderella, upon reading the text, a young girl inadvertently guzzles from the collective unconscious and in turn internalizes the substance of the presented archetypes and universal symbols as to what the archetypal wife material should look or act like. Cinderella then situates individuals to live out the preconditioning of the collective unconscious in their own experiences.  It is time to stray from the script delivered by the collective unconscious or at least reexamine and reassess it.


The Princess (2004)

Handsome prince,

filed tongue,

velvety thoughts—

love’s a grand idea.

Grand idea

golden slippers,

a rhythmic dance,

filmy soft clouds,

a fairy’s white dress.

White dress and veiled face,

bright eyes,

wedding march,

troubled mother,

sunset journey.

Sunset journey,

errant lover,

dull eyes,

dreary splendor,

distant godmother.

 Distant godmother,

demanding marauder,

weighty vows,

obscure pathways,

a lost one.

A lost one,

weary stares,

vacant core,

painful ashes.

You may read similar poems in my book Splendor from Ashes

Abuser in Denial

   “I am saddened and disgusted by false allegations conducted against me “, said actor Ryan Phillipe (allegedly). This after police examined his                       girlfriend’s injuries after she had checked into Cedar -Sinai Medical Center Emergency (New York Daily News Wednesday, September 20, 2017)

Similar words have been spoken. I recall one instance when the abuser said to me ‘My hands are for eating and not for hitting a woman”.  Wasn’t this the man that used his hands to hurt me that very morning? My mind panned this way and that to make sense of his re-scripting of the narrative.  I knew the truth. We both knew the truth of what had conspired that fateful day. Yet here he was causing me to question my sanity. Here he was, defining for me a truth contrary to the one I had experienced. The physical and emotional onslaught were too much for me so in what was an almost out of body experience I escaped to an unreachable space. In the fraternity of abusers, denial is the default response I subsequently learned. I became wise enough to recognize that the biases in the grand narratives these offenders produce are nothing more than products of distorted minds.

I also became wise enough to understand that in the aftermath of abuse, abusers wage an ongoing undeclared war to smear and to destroy. It’s a war in which like other re-writers of history they dare victims to vilify their freshly minted truths on pain of public shaming. Who then would be willing to defy the daring and risk public loathing, to expose the truth of their history and so expose revisionist tales? Only a handful are sufficiently courageous.  The sobering truth is that lack of acknowledgement of wrong doing sears the conscience of the offender and paves a path to subsequent re-enactments.

links 2My concern, however,  is for victims, those whose lives would have been forever changed. I often loudly wonder: What about us, you abusers and re-writers of history? Are you aware that you have locked us into a perpetual inverse relationship with you one which we struggle our entire lives to reverse?

Flip the Script

I write about domestic violence because I am impelled by noble impulses and a desire to bring awareness and eradication of this evil. Such awareness it is hoped will motivate whole communities and their leaders to act to eliminate this accursed thing from among us thus creating a new narrative. We can no longer remain silent as in being silent we will all be complicit in a system that allows for the dismantling of our families and the warping our offspring for generation to come.

Each small step in this direction would collectively amount to a giant leap over this seemingly unscaleable wall. Let’s flip the script on domestic violence and its retarding effects.

The poem below captures the impact of abuse:

Scripting (2003)

She penned the life that was to be;

naivety and bliss of youth

furnished its tone and hue.

Then life, the chameleon, reared its head,

smudging the masterpiece.

A good educator but

an ethereal marriage but

a beautiful baby but

the marauding twins—

pain and abuse invaded her lair,

eventuating the destruction

of almost everything

classically holy,

issuing forth from this paramour

her lone Romeo

throwing her empire into chaos.

The action never follows

the script the author pens.

Taken from Splendor from Ashes

Daddy Did You Know?


When you coerced my mother into being “other”, daddy, did you know that your daughters would internalize the game? When you bullied my mother into living in fear, did you know you were nurturing the same genre of fear in us? By distorting, emphasizing or deemphasizing certain mores daddy, you put us in a bind and shaped our impressionable minds. And daddy just so you know we fight every day to shake off patterns of relationship that began with you.

My mother never got to live you know, to affirm self-worth or realize her dreams. Image result for domestic abuse and women and childrenAlways in survival mode she was, self -sacrificing preferring your children so they could live in the unaccustomed freedoms for which she longed.  Her strategy of self-betrayal for survival before established privileged male existence, later became mine. Yes, mummy became the giver daddy dear, and you the forever taker.  This is a legacy for which dear daddy I am forever in your debt.

IImage result for domestic abuse and children’ll let you into a secret daddy dear, we were more aware than you thought we were. And daddy, did you know you put the first scars on us – psychological and emotional ones – that set us right on course? And though we do not reenact your rage you prepped us daddy dear to allow its reenactments on our psyches all the same.  This is the threshold of expectations you set for us daddy dear; did you know that at the time?

There is a saying daddy dear, have you ever heard of it? “If you don’t have the money then you don’t have the chance” it says. You were our currency daddy. Do you know daddy without a good father we didn’t stand a chance? Daddy did you know?

by Ingrid Rizzolo author of Splendor from Ashes

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Journeying into Understandings

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Understanding is gained in the process of journeying and reflection. By                                   grand design understanding must be sufficient but never complete.

After giving the above response to someone’s tweet I began wondering about the nature of understanding and of the process of journeying into understanding. I think that in the initial phase of our journey we have certain understandings of the world and of phenomena which are premised on some fairly generic principles. These principles inform our assumptions, joys, sadnesses and our acceptance of certain people or ideas as opposed to others. Nonetheless understandings are never fixed but mutate in the course of journeying

Image result for confused When put to the test in the wake of the churnings and breakings life inflicts on us, our generic principles sometimes prove inadequate. That is when they must either mutate or atrophy into irrelevance and ineffectiveness. The uncertainty and confusion that results from contextually inadequate principles propels us to grope for an understanding that fits.  It is in this process that lucidity awakens and with it the joy of understanding. But the cycle begins again.

It seems then that it is the grand design that understanding should be sufficient but never complete to allow for continuous journeying and arrivals on increasingly elevated platforms of understanding.

Find parallel thoughts in the poem No Entiendo from my book Splendor from Ashes

 No Entiendo (2012)


gazing toward the horizon

with youthful investments of confidence that

in time we will understand.

Get a handle on the puzzle.

Be better at strategizing

for living and loving and being.

Surely like fine wine

wisdom will increase in the school of aging.

Surely early stumblings will decline

in the midst of the unfolding surge.


poised mid-staircase, we’ve still not arrived

’cause we’re still locked on the platform of reaching,

locked in the embrace of youthful yearning

for life’s beautiful things: understanding, clarity—

which we no more possess now than when we first began.

At the finish as at the start,

we’re condemned soldiers of the dark,

questing for that ever receding light.

Gate keepers and identity challenges

Image result for african american women in college

By the time one arrives at college supposedly identity issues are settled. Typically, identity explorations occur on adolescent platforms. Adolescence is the season when one negotiates one’s way into an identity with which one is comfortable.  Identity can be tied to feelings of belonging to a given group’s social space. It follows therefore that if one belongs to a dominant group one becomes secure in the imputed group identity. However, an event may occur when someone outside of the group challenges, or questions that accepted identity valuation with a view to devaluing it. In the face of this kind of identity threat whether one is an adolescent or an adult the task then is to renegotiate oneself into identity security. Options are that one can choose to concede to the devaluation or negotiate one’s way out of the mis-identification. A viable option is to redefine or re-assert one’s sense of identity by comparing oneself to the threat in such a manner that the misaligned evaluation is transformed into a positive.

This excursion into identity provides context for the greater appreciation of the poem that follows entitled “What”, found in my book Splendor from Ashes. The poem illustrates how in-group challenges aimed at negatively compromising default accepted social valuing can be confusing. It is confusing as it amounts to gatekeeper betrayal.

What? (2004)

Why do you tell me I’m black?

I know I’m black,

and I wear this color, like the air I breathe.;

without affectations, or pretensions

I never really thought of it before,

but why do you say it to me

all the time,


every time you compliment me?

Is there something you wish to tell

of which I’m unschooled

of which I’m oblivious, or clueless?

You’re a smooth, black beauty.

You’re an attractive black woman.

Is this unusual in one of darker hue?

Are you questioning my rights

to beauty, sisterhood, acclaim?

This shade of black is rare, you say—

rare to whom?

And this from one who mouths black pride?

Now as God, I see in your eyes.

I see the truth you wish to hide.

I see the hollowness inside.

I see the camouflage of fear—

your fear of being black.


Splendor from Ashes  by Ingrid Rizzolo