Saturday, July 18, 2015

For Better and For Worse



As our wedding draws closer, I have an inexplicably heavy anxiety and fear woven throughout my excitement and joy.

I knew that planning a wedding came with a special set of frustrations and headaches. What I wasn't prepared for was the upheaval of all I thought I had satisfactorily buried. This process, in the midst of excited anticipation, has also been one of the saddest and loneliest I've experienced.

I can't begin to express how empty this feels knowing that neither my mom nor my fiancé's mom is here to share in all of this with us.

Part of me is still angry that not only did my biological mother not desperately want to keep me, I lost my adopted mom when I was still a child, and then I lost my mother-in-law-to-be; my last chance to have a mother figure in my life as family. I don't know what the words are to explain how that feels...

Every meltdown has me wondering if maybe I'd be having less of a meltdown if one of them was here to listen as I agonize over all the stupid details that probably won't matter in the end anyway, but more importantly, as I hash out all my fears about trust, commitment, my life's direction, and the risk of letting someone in so close that it would tear me apart to lose them.

My dad tells me even if he knew what was in store for him and my mom before they got married, he still would've gone through it. It was all worth it in spite of the two decades of hell watching her struggle physically and mentally while fighting to keep his entire family afloat.

There is some solace in that for me; even with as heart wrenching as it was, he doesn't wish it just never happened at all. I am lucky and got to witness my dad set an extraordinary example of commitment, devotion, and love in the face of impossible odds. I've watched many others turn away for much less.

I adore the man I'm marrying, and I know he adores me right back. I believe he would stand by me if our world came crashing down. And that terrifies me. This man loves me for who and what I am. I have trouble doing that myself some days.

I spent years making myself strong and fiercely independent. It's not that I entirely closed everyone out– I just didn't let anyone get close enough to really hurt me if they disappeared somehow. Now I feel completely dependent, vulnerable, and as raw as though someone ripped away all of my scabs and scars.

Thankfully, my husband-to-be is infinitely patient and possesses a steadiness I can only hope to one day attain. He's becoming quite skilled at soothing my demons when they attack out of nowhere.

I avoided writing for the last year because, quite frankly, this is all embarrassing to me. I feel like a failure because I can't "just" focus on the good parts. I don't have the eternal optimist's silver lining to paint around my little gray cloud. Sure, I've learned a lot and wouldn't be the person I am today if I hadn't gone through all of that, but I don't think I'd be a horrible person if I would've had a stable mom in my life. Who knows, there's a chance I'd be slightly more well-adjusted.

But maybe it's not always about turning something into what it's not. We so often look for the heroic inspiration in every sad story, but perhaps sometimes the lesson is to let it be what it is. Maybe the healing is in the acceptance.

I am incredibly excited to have found this man with whom I want to spend the rest of my life, and I can't wait to see how our story continues to unfold. I am looking forward to our wedding and seeing all of our closest family and friends together; I know they will make it an unforgettable night. I am also indescribably sad because there is, and will be, an irrevocable emptiness.

Yann Martel so poignantly wrote in Life of Pi, "To lose a brother is to lose someone with whom you can share the experiences of growing old, who is supposed to bring you a sister-in-law and nieces and nephews, creatures who people the tree of your life and give it new branches. To lose your father is to lose the one whose guidance and help you seek, who supports you like a tree trunk supports its branches. To lose your mother, well, that is like losing the sun above you…"

Our lives will never be the same, and that's ok; it is how it should be. We will carry on with our lives creating new habits and patterns around the emptiness like a tree around a knot in its wood. Some experiences will usher in sadness alongside happiness because I will always wish for the sun to shine.

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