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The Good Stuff and The Bad Stuff

I wrote this big ginormous post this weekend, shaking while I wrote it because that’s what happens when I admit to feeling in a way I wish I wasn’t feeling. When I’ve tried ignoring something and kept my mouth shut, gritted my teeth, and plastered on a smile and then finally come clean with the truth – that’s when I shake. It’s a tell and I hate it.

Kamel saw my writing it, saw me shaking, asked if I wanted lunch.

Not now, I said while pushing my fingertips on my forehead trying to find the words to explain how I feel, how I’ve felt.

We’ve almost been married a year. It’s almost June and our anniversary is in July. That’s weird. Time is so bizarre. I keep saying that but it never ceases to be true.

I say this because there’s something that I’ve been struggling with for even longer than that. And because it’s been almost a year since our wedding day saying what bothers me out loud makes me feel petty.

And instead of publishing the big post I wrote this weekend, I’m going to talk about how you shouldn’t feel shitty for caring about the circumstances around your wedding. I feel like there is a pervasive idea that says a wedding = a big grand prize.

Being single is terrible! Everyone is trying to get to that marriage finish line! You are so lucky to be getting married. Everyone is here for you. Your wedding is just a big party in your honor. You should be grateful that people even showed up for this. What more do you want?

I hate these sentiments. Marriage is not any kind of finish line. It’s the end and the beginning. It is the start of a new stage of life, but a stage that is not necessary for everyone. A wedding is not just a big party, it’s a celebration of people and love, of the people getting married, of the love they share, of the leap they’re taking, of all the family and friends who had a hand in this union, of individuals and of the We. It’s a chance to introduce family, to honor family and friends, to give thanks. For me it was the most overwhelmingly emotional day of my life.

And I am struggling with a very dark cloud that hovers over my memories of that day, and my feelings about what happened and how people acted before, during, and after. But! a lot of the attitude about these feelings from myself and from others has been: You got married, so why does it matter? Get over it.

It matters because my wedding day mattered to me. My engagement mattered to me. It wasn’t just playing dress up, it was including a new family into my life and a expecting a chance to be welcomed into there’s. Not everything went the way I wish it could have gone. We couldn’t invite everyone we wanted to invite, we couldn’t afford all of the things I wanted to be able to afford. But I worked really hard to include the culture and tradition of both families, and to honor both families. I did the best I could, even if it wasn’t perfect.

And the wedding is over. Almost a year over now. So I should be able to let it all go. I got my happy ending, right?

Except there is no ending. Life and family continue. A wedding is not a big fucking prize. And what was just one day of inconvenience, of ceremony and hand shaking and picture taking for everyone involved, was a year of me being ignored, shoved aside, treated with less respect than I treat strangers, and being told to just let it go, get over it, move on. Lauren really just needs to get over it. This is how it’s always going to be. She needs to learn that now.

And I’m writing about this because I feel really alone in these feelings. My wedding happened and everyone ate and drank and danced and posed for photos and then they all went home. And I was left with a lot of hurt and sadness (and joy and relief) that was never acknowledged. Something really great happened to me when I got married, I gained a husband and began a new chapter. Every day I am really grateful for that. But that’s not the whole story and I don’t want to feel like the inconvenient feelings aren’t just as important.

And maybe this happened to you too. Or maybe you’re single and you’re tired of everyone telling you that, one day you’ll find the right person, one day you’ll get married. Because marriage is not easier than being single. It is just as hard because it’s still life, it’s just a different kind of life, a different kind of challenge.

Every once in a while Kamel and I talk about the difference between getting married and having a baby. When you get married you make a lot of enemies. People are jealous of you, family feels obligation towards you, a lot of money is involved, some people feel like you’re getting this big goddamn celebration for what? For yourselves? Big fucking deal.

But when you’re going to have a baby suddenly everyone is your best friend. Your creating a grandbaby, a niece, a nephew, a cute snuggly thing that will carry on a certain family name, people line up to give you baby socks and to rub your belly. You can suddenly do no wrong.

This is bullshit.

Having a baby doesn’t make anyone a saint, or suddenly a good family member. And having a wedding isn’t selfish, it isn’t cause for contempt and it certainly isn’t ever alllll about the bride and groom. Life is hard, even the good things, and when we allow each other to have mixed feelings, to celebrate with just as much gusto as we apologize, to acknowledge the good and the bad – that’s when we really and truly appreciate one another. When we push it aside and pretend it isn’t there, then we fail. And I really don’t want to fail.

28 Comments

  1. I can’t imagine how frustrating that must have been to be treated with disrespect regarding your wedding. :( It must have been even more frustrating having your feelings invalidated.

    As far as letting things go? That happens when you’re ready. It’s not easy to “let go” of the fact that people who are supposed to be important in your life, whether from your families or friends, can’t support you on one of the most momentous days of your life.

  2. Um. Lauren? You wrote some good timely stuff here. (Or at least timely for me…)

    “you shouldn’t feel shitty for caring about the circumstances around your wedding”…I’m carrying thing one around in my head for a bit.

    • Everyone yet to get married needs to know this: give yourself permission to feel whatever you need to feel.

  3. Oh Lauren… hugs to you.
    Know that it is perfectly ok to have those feelings, and they will not magically disappear. You have to be angry, sad, mourn, and come to a place where you accept that things are in a way, and maybe they will stay like that. Because we are humans, and sometimes we make mistakes.
    Just also accept that you did your best, so maybe, try not being so harsh on you… I am sure you really did the best you could and that is what matters, after that you can not control other people’s feelings.

  4. Obviously you don’t want to share the specifics (which I totally understand and respect). But when you say, “I was left with a lot of hurt and sadness (and joy and relief) that was never acknowledged”, who are you hoping for it to be acknowledged by? If it’s just one person who upset you, and they have not acknowledged it, then (without meaning to sound all, ‘Get over it, Lauren!!’) it might be time to realize that they are not going to acknowledge it. Sometimes, acknowledging that we felt a certain way, and were entiteld to, to ourselves is enough.

    If you are hoping for some sort of communal acknowledgement from all those who attended your wedding, I think you might be expecting a bit much. Most people go to a wedding, are very happy for the couple, and then move on with their own stuff.

    I hope you understand I’m not saying any of this to be mean. It’s hard to hear ‘get over it!’ when you feel like you can’t. But it’s also not going to do you any good holding onto things that make you feel so bad.

    • Ah yes. You definitely have the most common opinion. And I agree mostly – I would love to not have these feelings. But it’s way harder said than done.

      And what I meant by acknowledgment was that all the shitty behavior happened and then from the get-go the response from close family has been “just get over it.” People pretend like nothing happened and expect me to fall in line. It makes me feel invisible and like I don’t matter.

      But I know that I can’t do anything about how people deal with things. So I need to figure out how to be ok with it all just as it is. “Ok” meaning not constantly hurt and frustrated. “Ok” will never mean it’s all been swept under the rug.

      • Oh, girl, this is all very familiar, though just a year or so old for me. Maybe the goal should be to own that you are unhappy with how people acted/they were inappropriate/etc., not to be “ok” with it. Just to be ready to move forward with life, but that you can always still say that it was wrong when it comes up.

  5. I know we talked about this a while ago, but we also had some hurt and upset hanging over our wedding. Weddings are never easy, I don’t think- nor are families. I know you had some especially hard stuff happen (and have had things continue to happen) and saying you should just ‘get over it’ doesn’t really work. I’m sorry it’s tough. You’re not alone, though, at least. I’m sending you hugs. <3 <3

  6. This is incredibly well written, and probably so because it is so very honest and real. I am so proud of you for gritting through the hand-shaking and getting it all out there. Like WHOA. I think the “all or nothing” thinking around weddings, like you said “you’re getting married, it doesnt matter” is absolutely bullshit. Marriage is important and awesome and a huge great thing, but it doesnt magically get rid of stupid behavior or comments or people not living up to what they should be in your life. I think that people think it covers life with this huge glossy glow of ‘living in the clouds’ and I think you are totally right in that we have to live in the in between. Things are never ALL great or ALL bad and wanting to acknowledge both positive and negative aspects of a situation or life event doesnt mean anyone is “dwelling” and “needs to get over it”. Well said all around.

    ps: I love this – “Life is hard, even the good things, and when we allow each other to have mixed feelings, to celebrate with just as much gusto as we apologize, to acknowledge the good and the bad – that’s when we really and truly appreciate one another.”

    that is some TRUTH right there!

  7. Oh man. this is good stuff.

    We’re 11 days away from the wedding and man is this timely.
    I wish I had more coherent thoughts to add but I think I’m sitting right in the muck of this post right now and I’m too busy treading in the sh*t to do much more than keep my head up.

    • I’m thinking of you!! And sending you so many good vibes. Keep swimming!

  8. As someone who has been married for a little over a year and a half and is now 6 months pregnant, the whole baby thing, at least in my experience, is not true. I have found that negotiating between families is even more difficult than it was for wedding planning. Partly because it feels like there is more on the line. Giving relative x the flowers they wanted was a decision that in many cases only needed to have impact for a day. However, now many decisions feel like they might have impact on this little tiny life that is going to join us. Plus everyone is judging every decision you make and telling you about how/why it won’t work and will mess up that little life. Perhaps that’s just me though.

    • I’d say not just you. I’ve got a 21-month old & am 8 weeks away from number 2. We were older when we got married & paid for everything ourselves, so maybe that contributed to people mostly staying out of our wedding decisions (although we still had heightened family drama before, during & after just because that’s how weddings & families go, I think). Anyway, people (from family to strangers) have many, many opinions on how parenting is “supposed” to go, and have no qualms about sharing. I think it has a lot to do with our society not viewing women as being competent adults, but that’s a whole other mega-rant.

  9. I think that you writing this post is a really helpful step. I really wouldn’t want you to be still thinking about this when you’re 45. That would be sad. So I’m glad that you wrote out both versions of the post, even if only one made it through. We learned a lot and next time any situation presents itself similar to what we went through, we will know how to handle it asap without any lingering unresolved issues.

  10. I totally understand this. I was married last August, and I’m still not “over” some peoples’ behavior surrounding it. In fact, the actions of some parties during that time has permanently impacted my ability to interact with people, right down to the “nuclear family” level. It’s not about “zomg you ruined my special day”, but it’s about the fact that they couldn’t even put their own shit aside for such a small period of time and let me enjoy myself. Instead, no, even THAT day, all about them. It causes a lot of bitterness. Don’t be ashamed of your feelings, they are legitimate!

    It’s like, “seriously, you get EVERY DAY, can’t I just have this ONE?” It’s not about achieving total perfection, but is it so hard to ask other people don’t load you down with their baggage on your wedding day?

    Hugs.

  11. This is incredible, Lauren. So much of how I’ve felt over the past year (I got married last July too!) were put into words today by your wonderful self. It’s so murky, and we all need to be open to acknowledging those struggles. Bravo!

  12. I have never been married so I can’t comment on the wedding aspect of this post. However, being almost 9 months pregnant I can assure you that people/family interject their unsolicited opinions about raising our child on a weekly basis. Everyone feels as if they, and they alone, know the secret to raising children. And while they might have more experience than I, it doesn’t make my future parenting plans wrong. What works for some doesn’t work for others in almost all situations. I feel family will almost always disappoint in one way or another. Just take it as a grain of salt and try to move past it, you’ll feel better about being the better person and doing what you feel is best.

  13. 1 year and 9 months. I am not “over it” either. Pretty much decided 75% of my guest list could just go eff themselves. My circle of friends is smaller and I speak with even fewer members of my family. While I can still fume over it all, I don’t miss these people.

  14. I’m not going to comment on the wedding part of the post, but on the feelings part of the post instead. I know just how hurtful being told, “just get over it” can be. I also know just how hard it is to want to get over something, because you know how shitty it makes you feel, but the actual “letting go”, well, that’s really f’ing hard.

    My father has always been “off” emotionally. He’s done a lot of hurtful things in the past, and when it came up to my wedding he’s the only stress that I really have to speak of. We all made it through luckily. However my brother still hasn’t gotten over the fact that he blew his wedding off 2 years prior. That’s just the teeniest tiniest tip of a gigantic iceberg.

    I don’t know if you’re the same as me, but I can go for a long while without feeling bad or burdened by these emotions. Then all of a sudden I start thinking about what has happened, and it snowballs into an all consuming shit storm. I have been working on letting go, and forgiveness. I think the first step in feeling better is to vocalize how crappy you feel, even if it’s only to yourself or your husband. There’s no way to just “let it go” all at once, but maybe if we can let go little pieces at a time we can get to a point where we aren’t SO hurt. Just a little wounded instead.

    There are things that I will never be able to get over, but I’m hoping that there is a point where I can come to terms with my own feelings and be ok with those. The actions won’t be forgotten, but I can get to the place where they won’t hurt me so deeply anymore.

    I hope you can find some peace eventually girl. You deserve it :)

  15. The week after I eloped with J to save our sanity, we visited my family (10 hr drive away) for a long weekend. Certain nuclear family members didn’t congratulate us at all, nor mentioned that we were newlywed. Also, J and I were bunked in separate rooms despite our legally married status(<–this part makes me giggle now). Coincidentally a family friend gave birth that weekend. It stung a lot that said unaffected members were overjoyed at the new baby in a different family and acting like a major milestone in my life hadn’t happened at all. And what did help was expressing that hurt to a sympathetic family member, and having it acknowledged by someone who knew everyone involved. Time, too, has softened things.

    Also, now that I’m expecting a baby myself, the same family members are definitely overjoyed (luckily this time they don’t expect to be at the event, cause I set that boundary early) but that doesn’t mean they’re not up in my business in a lot of ways. There are a TON of decisions about babies that get rankles up, and incite judgment and shaming. I’m bracing myself for the parts of motherhood where I’m only visible to be criticized.

    I guess what I’m saying is that it totally sucks. And you do need catharsis. Not necessarily from the offending party, but maybe from your support system online or another person close to you. But at the same time it’s good practice for all the other ways these people will disappoint you if you let them. Take care.

  16. Hey lady, if you want to email anytime to get into details from someone who knows nothing about it, I’m definitely here for you. I have three or four stories about really hurtful things that happened around our wedding, some of which no one knows. It’s awful. It puts a cloud over your memories–I still haven’t really looked at pictures or put any up because of this.
    And there is all of this cultural narrative about it being the perfect day, and then if it isn’t, to just get over it. You got married, that’s it. But a wedding is really hard on a lot of people, including all of your guests and non-guests. Being able to understand where they’re coming from doesn’t excuse some actions, and definitely doesn’t mean that your feelings are invalid. Some of the most hurtful and horrible things that have ever happened to me happened around my wedding, and in the months after; some are continuing to happen.

    It sucks. You don’t need to get over it. You need a place to be able to talk about it. You’ve done a much better job of keeping it to yourself than I have! :) Big hugs, and seriously feel free to email. xo

  17. It’s been over a year since my wedding, and some really terrible things happened around mine, too. I still haven’t “gotten over” them, in the sense that they’re still affecting my relationships with those involved, but at a certain point I decided to divide those bad memories from my wedding memories. At one point, when I thought of my wedding, all I could remember were all the disappointing and hurtful things that happened. That was getting me down, since there were also lots of amazing things that happened – much more, in fact. I decided to rewrite my memories of the wedding: I literally wrote them down. Doing that didn’t make the bad memories disappear, but it took their power away – now they’re associated more with the people who were responsible for them, and less with my wonderful wedding.

  18. Sorry to break the news, but having a baby doesn’t make things better. Maybe for a bit while you’re pregnant and everyone is anticipating the baby, but not so much afterwards. Brace yourself. Double that if you are 1) The first friends in your group to have a baby 2) The first child in your family to have a baby.

  19. Timely indeed. You and I? Shall have a drinks and sharefest, shall we?

    I didn’t even plan a wedding for nearly a year because of similar vibing circumstances when we became engaged. (I didn’t even hear a word about the engagement from some “close” members of the family, and believe me, we didn’t exactly spread the word far and wide). And my mom was incredibly sick so I was extra-struggling with how to plan a wedding w/ or w/o her. Nary a word, though.

    When we decided to just courthouse it because it was emotionally devastating to try and do this whole massive *thing* without a whole family, we caught resentment questioning our decision. Of course, no one on that side even recognizes how pissed I was about how some of that resentment was publicly played out because it was about them. And when my mom died the next week? Couldn’t even be bothered to show up to her funeral on time. Missed the whole damn thing. Yeah. This is truly family I married into. It hasn’t been a year yet, but even through my grief, I don’t know if I’m past my anger enough to want to plan a celebration with them.

  20. Sending a lot of hugs and virtual comforts to you Lauren. I hope that putting these words down will help, not get over these hurts, but come to terms with them. I think there’s a difference between those two things. Dwelling on how much people have hurt you is never fun, and I hope whatever you need for it to lessen happens quickly. Always know I’m not much farther than an email or skype sessions if you would like the eyes or ear of a friend/outsider from the situation.

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Who the hell is she?


Lauren

I am a writer living in Seattle and I believe that life is a grand adventure and only boring if you believe it to be. Plus! You don't need money to have fun.

I live with my husband, a photographer by education and a maker-of-video-games by trade, and a baby named gabe in an apartment on the hill.

I am romantic about most things and I cry... about almost anything. I tell stories to entertain you, I spread stories to keep you in the loop. I am not a grammar freak, but I do know how to spell it. I am exceedingly proud of my scrambled eggs and I really could eat an entire pan of cupcakes. If I met me, I would be my best friend. I tend to be irreverent.

If you would like to chat with me or see what else I'm up to you can follow me on Twitter (betterinrealife), on facebook, or email me at betterinrealife at gmail.


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