Monday, January 24, 2011

From Breakdown to Breakthrough

Last week, I met my mom, my future mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, and my closest friends for brunch and then for an appointment at the bridal boutique. Yes, brunch did require mimosas and yes, I needed more champagne for the actual appointment. The thought of what I was about to do sat on my mind the entire morning. I heard my friends talking but wasn't really hearing what was being said. I did my best to push down the panic that kept rising up inside of me and to breathe away the anxiety.

Earlier in the week I had an actual breakDOWN. I had an entire day of crying and anxiety attacks and just sheer terror, probably brought on by all the wedding talk and dress obsessing. All the "what-ifs" began taking over and then before I knew it I had convinced myself that getting married is a huge mistake and I was a horrible mother and doomed to live my life alone, not healthy enough to be ever be with anyone. I was a disaster.

I'm lucky enough to have a support system of friends to turn to, one for every aspect of my life. One friend has gone through my situation and is the one I turn to when I have these attacks (and she to me). We have somewhat of a pact to talk each other down, and when she talks I believe her because she knows exactly what I'm thinking and what I'm going through at the moment, yet is in the sane, calm place where I need to be. She helps me recognize that this is just the fear talking. That I love Mr. Wonderful and couldn't live without him. Slowly I calm down enough to get through the rest of the week until therapy.

Once I'm with my therapist, I decide to just unleash it all on her. Here's EVERYTHING I think during a panic attack, and I know it sounds crazy and makes no sense but in the moment it has total control over me. She listens and then says this:

"No relationship is perfect. You guys are going to have problems. There will be personality clashes and issues. But you love him for his character. You KNOW his character and that he is a good man, and you wouldn't have let him into your lives if that weren't the case. All the problems can be worked through, brought here."

It was really all I needed.

So while wedding dress shopping was a little anxious for me, I held tightly onto her words. They really were all I could think about. And when I went into the dressing room with my friend who talked me through the freakout, and she zipped the side of the dress I'd been eyeing, it was tears of joy, relief, happiness, hope, and love that immediately came to my eyes when I saw myself in the mirror as a bride. We looked at each other, tears in her own eyes as well, said "This is it!", and I walked out to face my friends and family as a bride for the second time without any fear or trepidation whatsoever.

I know him, I love him, and the rest can be worked out. That is all that matters.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Saying Yes to the Dress

Friday I had a phone meeting with my wedding planner. This wedding has been so far in the back of my mind that even though I put two pop up screeching alarms in my phone to remind me of her phone call, I still managed to get stuck in the middle of the grocery store when she called exactly on time. It went something like this:

Planner: "So have you thought about flowers?"

Me: "No, I don't really care about flowers."

Planner: "What kind do you like?"

Me: "I don't know."

Planner: "What kinds of colors were you thinking for your decor?"

Me: "Do we really need decor?"

Planner: "Ok. What about your wedding dress, have you started looking?"

Me: "Um. No. should I?"

Planner: "It can take up to 6 months once you've ordered it. So I'd say yes."

Me: "Ok I'll get right on that"

Planner: "Cake? Lighting? Officiant? Have you thought about any of this?"

Me: "I'm thinking about it now."

Planner: "You know, I have this giant binder for you that is supposed to be filled with pictures and pages of things you are looking for, and it is completely empty."

I then stopped the conversation and had to explain to her why in 3 months of having hired her, I've only decided on the location of the venue. I explained to her what I've told all of you here. The wedding freaks me out a bit. I've done this before and I'm petrified to do it again. It feels like I know the end to this story because I've lived it before, and it's taking everything in me to tell myself that this one ends differently. Every effort, every stitch of hope and faith that I have inside.

Lucky for me, the wedding planner then admits that she too has been married twice and totally understands how I am feeling. Phew.

I promise her that I am beginning therapy on it this week and that I will concentrate on looking for the dress. I tell my friends the story and one of them takes charge and sets a date of 2/12 to go try on dresses with my mom, sister-in-law, future mother-in-law, and my 4 best friends (to provide Xanax and hold the paper bag when I hypervenilate).

I do hang up the phone and start feeling like I'd better tackle these things. Once home, I decided to google wedding dresses. The images popped up on the screen and for a second I pictured myself in one, and then for some reason remember the old Sex and The City episode where Carrie tries on a wedding dress and instantly breaks out in a rash and can't breathe. Ugh.

I started looking through bridal blogs and online magazines that before, had my stomach in knots and made me feel overwhelmed. And then something clicked and I became OBSESSED. I researched the different wedding boutiques in town, and this lead me to researching the different designers and price points, and then before you know it I see a dress that I think might be THE DRESS:

It couldn't be more different than my "other one". It's stylish, it's short, it's ivory, perfect for a west coast destination wedding and for what Mr. Wonderful is planning on wearing. I can wear it out to party after the wedding and dinner, and I can wear it again to the wedding reception two weeks later back home. And it's $1100 cheaper than my budget ($395!)

Did I just do this? Did I just find a dress and not break out in a rash and hyperventilate? Well, we have yet to see really, I still have to try it on and look in the mirror and see *me* as a bride again.

And that's what it boils down to. I have to see me as a bride again. After my mom asked to go bridal gown shopping with me I started thinking about how it must feel as a mother to take your daughter wedding dress shopping twice. Will she cry this time too, overwhelmed with emotion at the sight of me as a bride, or is that old hat by now? I remember finding the "perfect" dress last go around with her, and how we both were overwhelmed with different than what I will be feeling this time I'm sure. Last time I felt as though I were riding off into the sunset. I had found my Prince Charming and life would finally be easy. Now I have absolutely no delusions of what marriage is, what it entails, and how fragile it can be. What emotions will I have as I slip the dress on and peer into the mirror at a 34 year old bride and mother of three? I'm almost afraid of what might come up. This is the closest one can get to literally "trying on" marriage again.

Through my researching I heard about the TLC show "Say Yes to the Dress". I decided to watch a couple of episodes on my ipad while I worked out and within a day I was completely hooked. Last night I watched it on Netflix until 2am. Every single episode I cry. When I first separated from my husband and would go out with friends we'd occasionally come across bachelorette parties. If I'd had enough to drink I might warn the poor, unsuspecting girl "DON'T DO IT!" I'd see tv shows like Say Yes to the Dress and think to myself "pigs running to a slaughter house". I convinced myself that marriage itself was the problem.

I've been hurt so badly. I don't want to get hurt again. I don't want to be abandoned again.

But I have chosen to face all these fears and make the conscious effort to move forward and try. And when I think of *after* the wedding, I am ok. I know that Mr. W and I will work anything out that comes up because we do have a love and respect for each other that I know many marriages and couples do not have. It's just the act of getting there, the touchstone that I've touched before.

But this one *will* be different in so many ways, including the man who will be waiting for me at the end of the aisle. I've got to keep my eye on that prize...him.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


I'm a little late getting this done, I've been formulating in my mind what I wanted my "resolutions" for 2011 to be plus I'm on vacation from my job so sitting at this computer feels like work :)

I say "resolutions" in quotes because I really prefer to think of them as goals. Resolutions infers that I want to change something about myself or my past, and I've learned that no experience, good or bad, comes in vain but with a lesson needed to be learned. Goals are much more attainable and realistic to me. Once I set my mind to something it gets done.

1. Working through more fears- I'm doing really well on my fears on so many fronts. I've learned to trust Mr. W completely, through both my own work and with time and experience showing me he can be trusted. But for some reason I do have one fear remaining and it's a big one: the wedding.

You know how when you've done something before, and you're doing it again, your mind automatically draws back on the experiences of the last time? Yeah. That.

No matter how hard I try and pretend like this is the first wedding "that means anything" or this is "the real deal" it's still not my first wedding. And preparing for it just brings back bad memories, I really don't know how to explain it other than that. I want to be married to Mr. Wonderful, want to be his wife and he my question. I would do it tonight if he said ok. But he wants a wedding, thank God a small one with family only, and he deserves it. For some reason that I just don't fully understand yet, I have a mental block. I'm going to be working on this in individual therapy over the next few months while at the same time trying to really begin pulling this wedding together. And in the meantime just hope that he is understanding of this and won't take it personally, cuz really....I would.

2. Fitness and health- my fitness and nutrition has become an increasingly important priority to me over the past few years. Every new year I used to make resolutions to "lose weight" until finally a few years ago, I decided I'd had enough beating myself up for the way I looked and was just sick of feeling blah and unhealthy all the time. I changed my eating to feel better and this mentality has kept me working out and eating well for years now, and has kept "lose weight" off my new year's resolutions list. It's a great feeling. But I'm always pushing myself to be the best I can be, and this year I'm working on getting even leaner while sculpting my muscles. I want to seriously be in top shape. While I really started working on this goal back in November, I'm really pushing it over the next several months to see what I can do. Lean meats and fruits and veggies. No sugar, pasta, or bread or cheese. Intense bodyweight workouts. This is my new lifestyle and while a few months ago it sounded impossible, it has become my reality and I LOVE THAT FEELING!

3. My ex- like hitting my head against a brick wall over and over, I keep coming back to this situation. Although I don't understand why, my ex is cold and rude to me in front of my children. I guess in his head he has turned the whole situation around. He can't get past me moving on, or another man becoming a father figure in his kids' lives. I don't know. But my goal from the beginning was always to have an amicable relationship with him for the sake of the kids. And that will never change. I know the feeling of anxiety of being around my parents, who hate each other, as a grown adult...I can't imagine how that translates for a child. I worry everyday how this is affecting them and who they will become. I owe it to them to keep giving it my best and to try and find a way for things to be more comfortable for them.

I'll add more as I think of them. I've sat at this computer for just about as long as I can take :)