Something old, something new

Posted on October 28, 2008. Filed under: screw-ups |

The shadow of your former loves and lives follows you into any relationship. The stakes are upped when the previous relationship was a marriage, and it (obviously) failed. Who doesn’t love a “first”? First kiss, first love, first bite, first sip. “I’ve never done this before, been here before, felt like this before.” The “I’ve never” makes it special. But what if you have?

I have been engaged before, and I was pretty good at it. Do I have regrets? Yes, a few, and this is a great chance for a do-over. I wish that I’d been more sentimental, spiritual, connected. I wish that I’d felt the weight of my commitment and been able to say that I went ahead and got married anyway. I wish that I could say that I looked forward and saw difficult times and difficult moments and pledged myself and my life to my man with eyes wide open. I wish that I remembered our ceremony better, that I felt something (anything!) other than embarrassment and impatience. I wish that I’d known myself better, known him better, known the future better. So my “something new” is to revel in my sentimentality, be unapologetic about my spiritual needs, and feel the full weight of our future rather than avoid the uncomfortable feelings.

My “something old” is to get ahead of myself and screw it all up. Welcome to the real world, folks, where you can move on from anything but yourself.

I’m a take-charge kind of girl. I’m a planner. I’m a tactical soul. I’m the product of generations of dysfunctional marriages (and successful divorces). This isn’t an excuse, only an acknowledgment. I get ahead of myself when I’m excited, screech back to a full stop when I’m disappointed, and in the depths of my soul I fear (and expect) being abandoned.

He mentioned marriage months and months ago. My heart skittered* in discomfort. Do I want to be married again? What’s wrong with living in a permanent state of sin? Can I be married again… successfully? Is it fair to my ex-husband to get it right with someone else? (The worries aren’t necessarily logical, eh?) Will I jinx it by thinking about it? Are we ready? What’s the point of marriage? Do we know each other well enough? Can I be faithful to him… forever? Will I be stuck in this city forever? Does he really know and love me, the shitty not-nice stressed out yucky me?

I came around. I love this man. I want my children to be like this man. I’ve never thought/ said/ considered the phrase “my children” before loving this man. My man is a great, good, solid, wonderful, worthy-of-my-admiration kind of a man. Why wouldn’t I want to marry him? I’d love to call him my husband, love to feel the stability that being stuck together forever incurs, love to make a vow (and then keep it). I want the chance to be a good wife this time.

We talked timeline. In retrospect, he expressed his discomfort at any kind of a timeline, but I passed it off as timeline-discomfort — the kind that planning will alleviate, ya know. I dithered around looking at rings. Freaked the hell out about making a decision. Waffled, flip-flopped, panicked. Screeched my distress at my boyfriend. I cried. Finally chose a ring (which he promptly purchased, unbeknownst to me) and then panicked some more. Ruined his surprise. Set a deadline for getting engaged. (*cringe*) Lost my shit when he didn’t meet it. Had many hurt feelings…/

{time to cut the ugly train wreck short, partially in a sad attempt to be concise but mostly because I’m embarrassed}

/… Then we had to back up. Take a deep breath, remember what’s most important, make it right. While nothing changed to the world, we went into pause mode in terms of planning anything. The ball went back in his court, and we agreed that he would take back my ring until we got through the drama, then we’d pick up where we left off. This step was just between us, as token step to replace a stressful memory with a good one. And, as tough as it is for me to let go, release control, and trust someone else with my life, it’s our life now.  I trust him with my heart, so I trusted him with this.

It worked!  In a quiet moment in the clearing where we’ll be married next spring, my wonderful man presented me with my ring, again.  I won’t take it off, not in that way, ever again.

Lesson: do not get ahead of yourself. Getting ahead of yourself does not, will not, cannot give you a free pass past the uncomfortable business of dealing with and closing the books on your past. Learn from your past and be better at the present not by skipping past everything but by doing the hard thing (and for me, that’s being patient). The point of an engagement, I believe, is to give you practice at living life together. You have to make decisions together, catalog your histories and your families, navigate new relationships with in-laws, focus on each other and your new relationship while standing together in the face of the drama, and GET TO THE END OF THE THING. The wedding day is the beginning of a marriage, but it’s also the end of the test that is can-we-succeed-as-a-couple.

Everyone loves a first, but me?  I love a “last,” too: the last sip of coffee, the last lick of ice cream, the last day of school… and this guy, the last man I’ll ever kiss.

Can you relate?

*skittered: a screech without the sound, like your body skittering down a not-wet-enough Slip ‘N Slide.

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    About

    I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt (and divorce papers) to prove it. Here I am again, pledging my life to my (new) love with eyes wide open (and heart racing) knowing full well how emotionally traumatic this can end… and doing it anyway.

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