One of the best decisions I have ever made in my life was to keep our engagement to ourselves for a couple of weeks. Jacob and I had complete space and freedom to enjoy the exhilarating terror and satisfaction we were feeling at taking this step. We'd look at each other across the room just while making dinner or reading books and say, "Are we really going to do this?" and got to delight in the affirmative response.
It was good to be free of the pressures of logistics about the event and to simply revel in our relationship.
But what was also good was telling my friends. I have some women in my life who have stuck with me through some shit. Some of them for more than a decade. These are women who see the world the same way that I do. At least, as some facet of me does. It continually astounds me at how different they all are from each other. It's not a gaggle of girlfriends. These are women that sit down and talk with me while we watch their children. These are women that travel long distances to attend events with me and for whom I travel long distances to see their new homes.
Telling these friends about my engagement and consequently the new story I envision for my life was pretty much just like talking to myself. They asked me the questions I wanted to be asked and said the things I needed someone to say. The conversations were a re-affirmation of how special I feel that these women make time and space for me to be utterly myself and utterly welcome in their lives. All the good parts and all the bad parts. These women have been affected by all my parts and love me anyway.
When I called my friend Susan, who is the reason I did not transfer colleges after Freshman year, we talked and giggled and shared gory details. I told her the story of how Jacob proposed and bemoaned the fact that the ring he had ordered had not yet arrived. Then, she made me cry.
She said in a somewhat gruff-but-positive high-school-coach voice, "Hey, nice job getting a ring this time."
This is what truly good girlfriends do.
They can mock you for pain in your past while pointing out how necessary that pain was for you feel as good as you do now. As if it were my fault that my ex-husband didn't value me very much. She was congratulating me for getting over being such a dumbass. I heard nothing but love in all of that.
You see, my ex-husband and I decided that we needed a new car for him more than we needed a shiny rock. It seemed like a totally reasonable and responsible decision at the time. I wasn't falling for any Wedding Industry claptrap.
But when I was at dinner eating pizza with Lorinda a few weeks ago talking about that same claptrap, I began to cry again. We were talking about how silly diamonds are but hearing those same arguments again brought up all the pain of my first marriage, especially feeling worthless, even if I still believe all the same things. She reached across the table and put her hand on my left hand with the ring and said, "But symbols are important."
I am surprised by how much my first marriage affects and informs this process with Jacob. I guess it makes sense. I've been in therapy for seven years and our process is basically to find healing for the things that come boiling to the surface because of the events that happen to me. Of course there must be some wedding things I haven't dealt with since I haven't had a wedding since that last one I had ten years ago.
I wish that for Jacob's sake it didn't have to be like this. That it could be all about he and me and the relationship we have. But the reality is that I am not the me I bring to the relationship without the relationships that I've been in previously.
I have known Lorinda since we were 11 years old in the Talented and Gifted program in junior high. She consoled me in the 6th grade when I didn't get a part in Teen: a Pop Rock Musical by telling me that being on the set construction crew was more fun, anyway. she said in the middle of Lou Malnati's, apropos of nothing, that she was so grateful for all of the emotional risks that I took it keeping myself open to dating since the divorce because she could now enjoy seeing me so happy.
Both she and Susan said the things that I had been thinking to myself. I am valuable enough to be invested in with a ring (especially since he knew me well enough to get a lab diamond and recycled gold so that no one would die for our love). I should be congratulated for taking good risks that paid off.
The validation that my friends provided to me had the unexpected benefit of reminding me that the past predicts the future. I will always have them because I have always had them. I don't have to point out the significance of the things that happen to me because they were there the first time and since they have the same information I do, can come to the same conclusion. Don't we all just want to be known?
I am known.
This is the good thing about weddings.
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