Tuesday, June 10, 2014

On a Wedding, Fear, and Second Chances

As I type this, I am staring at a stunning diamond ring, a circle solitaire Tiffany's rock that sparkles like nothing I've seen. And it is still somewhat surreal...

Two weeks ago I got engaged to the man of my dreams. I say that not to sound like the protagonist of a lame romance novel, but because it is actually true for me. He asked me to be his wife during the best dinner of my life, which capped off the best day of my life, and the best part of it all is that I was completely surprised. As you can see for yourself here.

I can honestly say I've never been happier. I realize these moments are, and will forever be, some of the highest highs in my journey. I've been relishing them and thanking God for all of this goodness I get to experience, and for the man I get to marry. My life wasn't always so sweet and satisfying, which I realize makes my joy that much deeper.

But with this joy has come some unexpected pain. I've spent the past 10 days solo (Vic is away for work), and I've had a lot of space to reflect and write. It's been an exciting, yet surprisingly difficult, time as I think ahead to the wedding and all that it symbolizes.

You see, I've done this before. This is not my first wedding, this is not my first marriage. And I have felt and am working through a spectrum of unexpected emotions, from shame and guilt to grief and fear.

Shame because suddenly I see myself as the girl who was married, divorced, and engaged again by age 30. Does anyone else see me through that lens? Maybe. But that's irrelevant. This is my life; not theirs. It's my path and my story to make. My goal the past 2 years has been to rise from the ashes and live boldly and authentically, to listen to the truth I know to be real, and to aim to care less about others' perceptions. Do I miss the mark on these goals? Absolutely. But now I know how to speak truth to these lies when they rear their heads.

A niggling guilt, as if I'm betraying my first promise to forever, even though that has been put to bed—for me, this is the strangest of all of my recent reactions. I see people's Facebook brags about hitting the 5- or 7- or 13-year mark with their spouses, and I've felt this pang of guilt, as if I am less of a human because I couldn't cut it. 

Griefbecause I'm reliving the memories of 22-year-old me planning a wedding and expecting it to be the first day of the rest of her life. I'm once again mourning the loss of innocence because I'm being confronted with it. And that's OK. Those are real memories attached to real emotions. I'm learning to make myself feel what I feel, sit in these moments, and then move oneven when all I want to do is distract my mind and dull my emotions.

And fear. I was convinced 8 years ago that I would be married forever. I had no doubts, no second thoughts. So much changed through the years: How do I know the same won't happen  again? How can I guarantee a lifetime of healthful, growing, committed, loyal, loving marriage? Well, I can't. But I can choose to fully embrace the goodness and love in my life today. I can choose faith above fear. Faith in my man, and who I know him to be. Faith in our relationship and what I know to be real. And faith in myselfthe power I've reclaimed, and the new-found understanding that happiness is mine to take.

Because even as planning a wedding and preparing for marriage brings my past to the forefront, everything about my current relationship is different and new: I’ve experienced daily life with him, loved him fully and been loved back. I’m living the reality of my dreams—dreams I didn’t envision until I was an adult and knew who I truly was and what I really needed in my partner in life, my teammate. This time it’s not about the wedding—the event I fantasized of for years as a kid. It’s about the marriage. It’s about the days I get to spend with him, the lifetime I will live with him.

This time I just feel lucky. I’m so proud to be his girl; I can’t wait to be his wife. And I am grateful for this second chance, relieved that I chose faith over fear every step of the way. So I will continue to do so. 'Til death do us part. Amen.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Other Woman

Last weekend I saw The Other Woman. It was quite amusing and often hilarious (in my opinion). Of course much of the humor was over the top, but I expected this. What I did not expect, however, was the beautiful depiction of the power of female friendship in the midst of a life-changing crisis. I was holding back tears during one scene when the wife came to terms with her husband’s betrayal, and her best friend sat by her side, holding her hand as she accepted the unacceptable. Sometimes the silent presence of a friend is the sweetest salve to unexplainable pain.

All week I’ve been thinking about my “other women.” One in particular contributed to the deepest pain I’ve experienced in my 30 years. Whether intentional or not, she was part of a series of actions that changed the course of my life forever. I wonder if she knows that. I wonder if she cares. I wonder if she gave one thought to me, or if she was blinded to my existence altogether. I used to think about her quite often, first with anger, then with pity. Today my thoughts could best be described as “dumbfounded.” And that goes for all the mistresses out there.

I know every relationship is different, every situation unique. I do my best not to cast judgment on anyone for the choices she makes because I prefer others show me the same respect. And I’m not singling out women because I have more grace for men; rather, I have higher standards for the female gender.

Ladies, we’re on the same team. We’re in this thing together. Relationships are hard work, love is a battlefield, men can simultaneously be annoyingly simple and absurdly confusing. The friendships we strike and the support we provide one another is powerful. Please, let’s put each other first. Let’s think beyond ourselves. Those intoxicating emotions telling you a taken man is fair game? They are not sustainable. That scenario you’ve rationalized as supposedly “different” in an attempt to free yourself from guilt? It’s not. You are playing with fire; back the fuck off. This road leads to pain—and rarely does he get a share of that grief. It’s usually the shes who are left betrayed and broken. Both shes.

Thankfully there’s another side to the “other women” coin. It’s the women in my life who have stood by me through unspeakable grief. Women who cried with me, listened to endless rants and emotional vomiting, and helped me to laugh in the midst of it all. These ladies depicted loyalty in moments when trust was an empty, meaningless concept. These friendships are one of the greatest reasons I am proud to be a woman.

Ladies, let’s stay on this side, together. Let’s look out for each other by honoring the boundaries in play. Let’s uphold loyalty above lust and show each other the respect we deserve. Let’s love fairly and love fully—we are worth it.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Water Consumption and Happiness

As I was paying my (higher than usual) water bill last month, I took a quick look at my H2O consumption during the past year. And the above graph posted on my online account made me laugh out loud.

If this were a scientific study, my hypothesis would be: My water consumption directly correlates with my level of happiness.

The first few months of 2013 were dire, friends. (What the hell was I doing in January? Not showering or washing my clothes?) There was a gradual growth of agua intake mid-year as I gained a new beau, followed by an impressive spike in December and January as I hosted a few parties and many out-of-town guests.

Moral of the story: I like where these bars are going. And I want to keep that trajectory alive. (So come on over and take a shower!) ;)