I think I’m just about done writing and thinking about this marriage business. There’s maybe two more posts in me for the next little while and then I’ll be putting it aside. My friend Bethany pointed out that it’s been something I’ve talked and thought a lot about over the last couple of years. It was like a warning bell. Until recent years, I haven’t really talked about being single and I certainly don’t want to get stuck with only one topic of conversation.
Tomorrow, my best friend from high school is getting married, again. While I’ve been to a lot of second weddings, this is the first one I’ve been to where I’ve been to both events, let alone had the same job at each. Years ago, she asked me to write and read a poem for her wedding as I stood beside her in a burgundy bridesmaid dress. This week, I’ll read lyrics to a song they love and I have no idea how it’s going to turn out, but I’m hopeful. As she said, “We’re professionals, so there’s no rehearsal.” So true, my friend, so true.
Her first wedding is best left in the past, it’s become a poignant and intimate thing that is best shared between two friends who have loved each other for a long time. Together, we can laugh, groan and cry about it. Her second wedding will feel more true, more authentic at least. Less triviality.
The first time around, mutual friends and acquaintances fluttered around with reassuring and unfounded promises, the way they tend to do with bridesmaids.
“You’ll be next!”
“Can’t wait for your wedding, it’ll be such a party!”
Even the band (of friends) joked they would have to stay together long enough to play my wedding dance. They’ve long since broken up. There is no boyfriend. Nor a girlfriend, which I’m asked surprisingly a lot. I don’t have an ex-husband to roast. There are a handful of awkward first-date stories that I use to entertain people. Tomorrow’s questions will not be as fun.
In the last year, my two sisters have become engaged and one is married, the other soon to be. My best friend from high school is about to marry again, as are some of my other recently divorced friends. Whether it’s the first time round, or second I feel joy for them. It’s the circumstance however, that’s pushed me to examine the deep, dark things of my life. To look at what is, embrace it and move into a different way of living with the ‘What-If’.
Sometimes life is like going to the dentist. You think you’re fine, until he prods that molar with the sharp pointy thing. Next thing you know, you’re paying for a cavity you didn’t realise you had.
I’m selfish and afraid. I’m afraid of disappointing people, afraid of facing the same old questions and the same old reassurances, when what I want to say is ‘No, stop. Just let it be what it is.’ I’m also learning to let go of my ego, that wants to asks things like, why them and why not me. Dark, dangerous, stupid questions. I’m not afraid that I’ll be single forever and I certainly don’t care about not spending a fortune on a one-day party. I’m afraid that I won’t be ok, if I’m alone. I’m afraid I’ll be too okay and that every day I move forward with my life into a complete, fulfilling, do-all-the-things world, I get further and further from the possibility of meeting someone to share that world with me.
I’ve lived half of my life with the expectation I’d meet someone and we’d re-design the rest of it together. A halfway co-design of the future was the plan I had. That’s not what it is right now, so I’m having to design the second half myself. More on that later.
What-Is, What-Isn’t and What-If.
I’m trying to give something up here, trying to grasp on to something new, this next phase re-design of my life. I’m trying to talk myself into a new way of thinking, which is largely about moving into a new phase of life. I’ll tell you about it once I have the words, but I’m currently in transition.
We all know people who get stuck in What-Isn’t. That singular focus and deep misery that comes from not seeing the wood for the trees. Longing for something they don’t have. Not just single people, but people unhappy in their jobs, their work, their health, their relationships. People who wish for change but do nothing about it, people who live stuck in What-Isn’t.
I think you can get stuck in the What-If too. Afraid to move in any direction in case the magic you were looking for comes along. What if they really change this time? What if my soulmate lives here instead of there; I’ll just stay put. What if I won’t be ok?
I’m trying to give up the What-Isn’t and the What-If. They are addictive, slimy little emotional ego drugs. To be fair, for a girl who lives by the motto ‘do all the things’, it’s not What-Isn’t that trips me up. I’ve never been one to wallow in what I don’t have – but even the twinge of “why her, why not me?” has shaken me enough to re-think my thinking. Just a glimmer of What-Isn’t thinking is too dangerous to give a foothold, like getting high one time and liking it just a little too much.
Earlier this year I nearly overdosed on What-If thinking. It is a slippery slide of self-doubt.
When people write and talk about being Present, this is what we mean. Cling to What-Is and live deeply out of that. Don’t dwell or give too much time to the What-Isn’t and What-if, lest you get stuck. Of course, the healthier you are the less dangerous the What-Isn’t and What-If thinking is. Sometimes life is like going to the dentist. You think you’re fine, until he prods that molar with the sharp pointy thing. Next thing you know, you’re paying for a cavity you didn’t realise you had.