This time just 3 years ago, I was still preparing for my wedding day. The thing is, though, it was never really about a wedding, or just one day. It’s all of the details that stick like hot glue onto the delicate fabric of our lives. Some of those details are incredibly painful, yet we strive to make them fit. We give them a place. That is what I am going to be sharing. It has been a challenging journey since my marriage ended, finding the balance between authenticity and preservation. My lack of sharing previously had nothing to do with shame or fear, but everything to do with the process. There is no manual for redemption. It is simply something we have to live out one intricate moment at a time.
I needed to wait until enough of my heart had healed so that I could write from a place of peace and reflection rather than pain and torment. What you will find in this series is just pieces of my peace journey. While I would typically take the approach of “write drunk, edit sober” with my articles, the honesty and timing of this has put me in a very different position. I am going to be writing completely in the moment but without judgment. I am not going to edit as I go, so consider this my apology in advance for what I’m certain will be plenty of spelling mishaps and grammatical errors.
My hope in sharing this series of posts is to simply encourage anyone who is facing an uncertain future, is consumed by heartbreak, and has no idea what’s next. When I say I have been there, I truly, deeply mean it. It is possible to transform. It is possible to create beauty from ashes. It is possible to face your worst nightmare and somehow, somehow, arrive at a place of dreaming again.
This writing, these details, might be just for me. Or perhaps they will reach someone who feels completely isolated. Either way, all I know is that they are significant. They are human. They are palpable. So, here they are.
This time 3 years ago, my family was all in town and had flown all the way across the country for the big event. I was just 3 sleeps away from becoming a wife, and while there was plenty of work to be done for the wedding, ultimately, I felt pretty prepared. That morning, I tried on my strapless sweetheart neckline wedding dress in my bedroom because I just had to see it on again. Much to my surprise, the gorgeous lace gown that fit like a glove just two weeks prior was falling off if I barely jumped up and down.
I don’t know if it was just my body fluctuating, if it was nerves, or if something deeper was trying to surface, but all I knew was that I had to go get my dress altered all over again. I remember holding my iPhone and checking the weather forecast for the week as I was basically being sewn into my dress with the seamstress at the bridal shop.
Typical 70 degrees and sunny every single day in LA.
Overcast and pouring only on the day of the rehearsal dinner and the wedding (which was outside, by the way).
Looking at the weather, I attempted an anxious inhale, but the dress didn’t leave much room for an exhale. Which meant at least one of my problems was solved, I guess.
Back at my apartment that night, I had a “Scandal” marathon happening on Netflix while I drank an Olivia Pope sized glass of Pinot Noir and decided to do some more trying on. One by one, I played dress up and put on every piece of lingerie I had received from showers or picked out myself for the wedding night & honeymoon. So much white. So much lace. So much “bride” on butt cheeks. As I type this, I am in bed with a chihuahua on top of me, and I’m wearing a CNN t-shirt with purple striped underwear.
One of the hardest things about preparing to become a wife, being a wife, and then just not being a wife anymore was the identity shift. People often expect us to just magically choose one — because it always makes more sense when we can fit into a box. Or I’m sure in a way it would be easier for some readers if I said that I could no longer identify with the girl trying on bridal panties verses the woman sitting here today. While the girl in these boudoir photos was beautiful, I can sincerely say I feel even more beautiful today…because it is honest and true and free.
After years of waiting to get married, after countless books about “cultivating the heart of a wife”, I am convinced that I may never fully feel detached from that again. The identity has changed, sure. But in all of my many flaws and mistakes, I did prepare to become a wife. And ready or not, it was a choice that I made. I wanted it to fit. I never believed that it wouldn’t fit.
It’s not even just the pressure from others. I also placed it on myself. The past year and a half, I have tried so hard to convince myself that I must have just been “young” and not “known myself.” Yes. I was younger. And yes, I believe I know myself better now. But the girl from 3 years ago was authentic, too. She was excited. She was trying. She was hopeful. I still feel all of those things strongly today, but they manifest very differently.
Sometimes it really does just come down to the way something fits. 3 years ago, it was white lace with Tiffany blue, and now it’s cotton and t-shirts. We outgrow certain things. And there is a mourning period that has to follow — the dying to ourselves daily — the dying to what we thought we would have or who we thought we would still be. Some days I still have to wake up and die to the dreams I had about marriage, kids, home, and the future I wrapped up and gave all my hope and trust to with a particular person. And the beautiful and miraculous part is that it hasn’t made me cynical. It’s not that I won’t ever have certain elements of those dreams again, but I have been able to transform and grow new dreams through my willingness to let go.
Easier said than done, trust me.
But if you are reading this right now and there is a toxic part of your past that no longer fits what your healing demands, please let go. It won’t happen at once. You’ll have to let go again. And again. And again. And…again. Take off what’s so tight it won’t let you exhale. Release yourself from the chains of fear. And if for just a moment, be gentle with yourself.
Words are powerful, and I will never forget hearing the words:
“You are a bad wife.”
I realize now that while I was (and am!) a completely complex and flawed human being who is certainly hard to love at times, I was not a bad wife. I will not carry that badge any longer. What I see now is that the label of being a wife and the way it looked on my own unique identity simply didn’t fit this person’s expectations. Feeling like a misfit then led me to a deeper sense of belonging than I ever could have dreamed.
I never would have imagined that within a year of losing my best friend+husband, half of my family, my job, my home, and my entire income that I would reclaim my own home again, run my own business, and make art doing what I love. That’s just grace for you. It doesn’t add up. Redemption is a crazy adventure…but more on that later. Stay tuned for part 2 of “This time 3 years ago” coming soon.