No Ordinary Princess

The book cover above is one that I illustrated a long time ago.

Last month, the artwork was finally returned to me after being lost for over 25 years.

It was found when the publisher, Harper Collins was closing their offices. I’m guessing that someone probably discovered it at the bottom of a file cabinet. For such a long time I only had a slide to work with and now I have the original art to scan instead.

It is an amazing coincidence how I recently wrote about my song “No Words” and chose that sunflower/butterfly cover image to go with it.

Only a week ago I finished the guitar and vocals for my newest arrangement of “No Words.” It has intricate harmonies and creating it was very rewarding. The link below is to my song and story: #444 NO WORDS – PART 2



I love the title of the book I illustrated called “No Ordinary Princess.”

That’s because shortly before I separated I started to call myself a Princess. Seeing myself as a Princess allowed me to write feelings I might not have been able to express in any other way.

I chose that image from my subconscious freely and one thing that I’ve learned from hypnosis is how important it is to allow images, thoughts and words to form without judgment.

Unfortunately, there is a dark side to my Princess metaphor – the Dragon.

In the beginning, the image of a Dragon was a metaphor for my ex-husband. Sadly even though he is physically gone from my life, the dragon continues to haunt me. Certainly there are issues related to our children – but it is more than that. I see the Dragon as a metaphor for unhappiness.

The Dragon also represents my inner critic or judge, which is always there in my mind. Feelings of low self-worth and of living with suppression and criticism for many years plague me. Staying positive has been an inner struggle, especially since I’ve had constant dry eye pain.

The word judge leads to “judgmental” and that stirs up such negative feelings for me.

In many ways, I’m so proud of how different I am compared to how I was brought up. I really try to be open-minded and go out of my way not to judge or criticize anyone. My mother was always very sure about everything – there was right and wrong, good and bad and she saw everything as black or white. I do tend to follow that by thinking in extreme ways; I often miss out of seeing possibilities that lie in the gray realm.

I suffer greatly because my inner critic or the judge in my head is not kind to me. Therefore, although I try to be kind and open-minded with other people, I am very judgmental with myself. That has led me to discover why I need a lot of healing at this time in my life.

I want to explain why I have discomfort surrounding being a Princess. Writing helped me to understand those feelings, so this has been a great opportunity for me to find insight.

This photo is blurry, but it brings back memories of carefree times when I played my guitar and had many boyfriends.

This photo is blurry, but it brings back memories of carefree times when I played my guitar and had many boyfriends.

Feeling like I was a Princess began during my childhood. My parents adored me and nurtured all of my talents: art, writing and music.

Before I was married, my future husband also adored me. But everything changed after we were married. I discontinued my music and drifted apart from my close friends; I was very unhappy but chalked it up to my immaturity. I told myself that I just needed to grow up and lose my unrealistic expectations about happiness.

Even back then, I had a lot of judgment about my feelings. I ignored my intuition and I even stopped keeping my diary because I couldn’t bear to write my true feelings.

Because I was in such deep denial and couldn’t face the prospect of divorce, I blamed myself for my unhappiness. I did seek out therapy, but everything pointed back to how controlled I was by my mother. I suppressed every thought I could about the lack of intimacy in my marriage.

My career kept me very busy. I was driven to become successful because my husband seemed unhappy with me. I thought that perhaps if I made more money he would be happier.

That issue about making money still haunts me. So often, my thoughts related to money become convoluted because my self-worth was tied into it for such a long time.

It is unfortunate how the image of a Princess can lead me to such a dark place. Once again, black and white comes into my mind with the darkness of the Dragon countered by the enlightenment of the Princess.

The judge berates me and tells me that I was pampered and did not appreciate my husband’s hard work. I took care of his needs for so many years and this thinking drives a stake right into my heart because of the guilt I carry about ending my marriage.

My ex-husband would certainly think that I was pampered. I had a housekeeper to help me and he hated waking up to go to work. I always felt so grateful to have flexible hours with my career and appreciated that my husband was reliable and provided for his family.

But even though I had a housekeeper, I never relaxed. My husband wasn’t happy about the expense and hated the invasion upon his privacy. Having a housekeeper made it possible for me to continue working as an illustrator and when our children were young, I often needed extra help on the weekends when I had large assignments.

This picture is of Jason when he was three. My children always had plenty of art supplies to work with.

This picture is of Jason when he was three. My children always had plenty of art supplies to work with.

I really needed help from the start because our first child, Jason had many health problems. He refused to eat and vomited constantly. There were times when I had to race him to the emergency room once a week due to his heart arrhythmias. 

Later on we had children with special needs. I needed behavioral help to deal with meltdowns and was constantly going to court against the school district in order to gain help for my children.

So what truly allowed me to survive was the support that came from Rosa; she worked for our family for over twenty years and my children considered her to be their second mother.

But my husband wasn’t too happy with her and the animosity between them tore me apart.

Because the amount of work Rosa had to do was overwhelming, our house was never clean. I wasn’t able to keep up with all the demands from my challenging children; I set my work aside to advocate for their special needs for many years. My husband criticized Rosa to me every time we were together because our house was dirty. He was angry that our children didn’t behave better; that things were constantly in need of repair because our youngest son wasn’t watched more carefully or disciplined.

I rarely spoke up, except when he picked on our son. There was always underlying tension. It became especially hard when my parents became ill and I brought them to live with us while they were on a waiting list for an assisted living facility.

It was one of the hardest years of my life. I felt appreciative that my husband “allowed it,” but at the same time his moodiness and anger worried and upset my parents. The guilt and anger that I carried suffocated me.

This picture was taken two years ago. Rosa is still very close to my children and me. She comes over once a week to cook dinner and help out with all the laundry. No cleaning is required from her and she is my family now.

This picture was taken two years ago. Rosa is still very close to my children and me. She comes over once a week to cook dinner and help out with all the laundry. My children always are so excited to see her. She is part of my family and always there for me – as I am for her.

When I began creating music and writing in 2010, I dreamed I’d make a lot of money and become famous. I told myself a story about how if I became successful, my husband could retire from the job he disliked so much and then he wouldn’t be so angry all the time.

Two years later in 2012, my father was dying and my mother had dementia. I dealt with it alone and was at a very low point. The constant pressure and criticism from him was too much and it began to dawn upon me that I had a lonely existence. I hated his company and could not find any other way to deal with my feelings except through my songs.

It was my beautiful music that gave me the clarity and courage to continue my journey in a new way.

I ended my marriage so I could live without the constant stress and suppression I carried for decades. It was ultimately because of self-love and the feeling that I deserved more from life.

So the true reason I am “No Ordinary Princess” is because I feel that I have something extraordinary to offer the world. I could not have found my courage if I hadn’t been blessed with those gifts that have healed me: my music and writing.

I reclaimed being the Princess from my childhood.

As I embrace dreams that I abandoned for many decades while caring for my children, husband and parents . . .

I do feel like royalty!

Clicking on this makes it larger.

Clicking on this makes it larger.

In looking for an attachment for this post, I found a page from my diary that I wrote at the age of 19. It truly tells my story. The line where I wrote, “Smiling is my favorite habit next to eating and biting my nails” hits me hard. Below is a transcription:

Life is busy. Is it real? I feel detached sometimes, like a wandering entity put to the test all the time. It’s kind of lonely, too, esp. when I spend my time cheering and pleasing other people all around me who really have no idea what I’m really like. Very few people have ever come close. Parents can come to a certain point – where they know certain parts perfectly and never know others. But in the midst of my stage, which I act upon well during the course of the day – I wonder if I’m feeling. Am I happy? I guess if I’m smiling. Am I sad? I’m not crying. Smiling is my favorite habit next to eating and biting my nails.

Judy with crossing bars

© 2014 Judy Unger and Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About Judy

I'm an illustrator by profession. At this juncture in my life, I am pursuing my dream of writing and composing music. Every day of my life is precious!
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  1. tersiaburger says:

    What a brave and wise decision you made. You are amazing!


    • Judy says:

      Thank you, dear Tersia. I think after losing our child – there is nothing left to fear. I finally made a decision to save my life. I didn’t want to waste any more time. My beautiful music soothes me and I’m never alone as long as I have that. It was so much harder to be with someone who didn’t value me.


  2. Cindy L. May says:

    I remember you smiled all the time; a beautiful smile that drew people in. Like you, I hid quite a lot. Unlike you, I was never brave enough to change my circumstances. I pray you will be able to let go of your guilt – you did not deserve to be constantly criticized. Those of us who are/were put down continually struggle to rid ourselves of that inner critical voice. You have to separate yourself from that voice and tell it to back off. You were and are a sweet, sensitive person. I am glad you are finding healing through your music.


    • Judy says:

      Cindy, your comment means so much to me. I also never knew what you went through and I always am so glad that you found Barry. He is such a loving man and you deserved someone like him. It helps me to know how you understand that voice. I honestly don’t want to blame Mike for it at all. From the time I was little, it became my nature to please, please, please. I always pleased my parents and my mother was very loving, yet she was a very strong person. I was always afraid to show her I had my own beliefs. Later in life, she was my support and I never really grew wings to fly. I hate being weighted down now by past habits of thought. For that story, I was amazed how at 19 I had the same feelings I have now. I look forward to coming up north to visit you in the coming year. It’s been far too long since I’ve seen you. Thank you again for all your support and love.


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