Is There Life After Love?
August 11, 2015
Is there life after love? By “love” I mean: “the wedding”.
I sit here three days after my big day with a glass of wine and some chocolate, desperately searching for anything that will take me back just one more time to my beautiful wedding day. With no pictures to call my own yet, and somehow thrusted back into reality, I struggle with the knowledge that it’s all over.
I had read about brides experiencing deep disappointment after their weddings in one of the many wedding blogs I subscribed to. After a wedding, a huge part of what occupies a bride's mind for so long (for some since childhood!) suddenly and officially comes to an end. I was not one of those brides who had her wedding day imagined and planned since childhood, but I did spend 365 days planning, creating, and dreaming, and than a final intense 14 days suffering from high anxiety. The day itself was over in a matter of hours. In fact, the moment every bride anticipates the most – the “entrance” and walking down the isle – took less than two minutes. The ceremony was under 20. And now that it’s all over and I am coming down from being the center of attention, I can‘t help but feel the loss and inexplicable sadness…
We are supposed to be in newlywed bliss and yet I keep going over the day’s events in my head, telling myself it was beautiful just the way it was, and then picking apart aspects I wish I had done differently. If I could go back, I wouldn’t drink one sip of alcohol so that I could be present and utilize every minute. I would appreciate my parents and family more. I would enjoy the surroundings by going for a longer hike, and I would visit with everyone.
The double whammy for this introvert is that I shut down when life gets too intense. I couldn't get my anxiety under control that day. I tried breathing and grounding myself, but I could not sit and be still for more than a minute before I wanted to crawl out of my skin. The anxiety had reached new highs, leaving me gasping for air every five minutes. My jaw was tight and sore from clenching it during the night, sending further pain to the back of my head. Everyone kept focusing on how it would all work out just fine and how I should enjoy it. I wish someone would have shaken me and said: “Honey, your moment is exactly two minutes long. Relax and get into the moment.”
What's worse is that everyone but me is done talking about this wedding. I wanted to sit and hear what people had to say but everyone left (rather quickly) to get back home, making me think we should have had the wedding on Friday so that everyone could stay and enjoy Saturday. But then again, I am the only one who wants to talk about it, so it doesn't really matter which day it was. I signed off Facebook about a year ago. Bummer, that might actually be one way I could catch up on my own wedding right now. I know I have lots of people who love me but I don't feel like I can be honest with them without giving a false impression of what is going on in my head.
So instead, I escape into this bottle of red and my chocolate.
Fast forward to the present day, and I have learned so much. I know exactly what I would tell a newlywed bride. Life is an ever-evolving set of lessons, and here are the ones I have learned since my wedding day:
- Be in the present moment. Since my wedding, I’ve worked very hard at living in the present moment so I can be part of every minute of my day. The day I got married was beautiful but fleeting and blurry in my memory. I have since let that go, and I’ve moved forward with the knowledge that I am better equipped to be in the moment during important events in my future.
- Do some introvert preparations. Both my husband and I are introverts, so spending a lot of time with people – especially family! – is very draining for both of us. We’ve both gotten better at “filling our tanks” before big social events by lying low and doing some quiet solitary activities. In the days before our wedding, we spent lot of time running around and visiting with people, which meant that during the wedding day itself, I felt very exhausted and overwhelmed, creating that feeling of distance from everyone. I recommend getting clear on healthy rejuvenation options that you can activate, preferably long before you are running on fumes.
- Invest in the marriage, not the wedding. It’s more important to make the marriage work than make the wedding perfect. Our wedding was not lavish, but it was uniquely– us. The gathering was small and intimate, and it was tucked in the mountains near Golden, BC, where we first met. In the journal entry above, I was clearly very worried that it wasn’t good enough or that I had timed it wrong; in hindsight, it was beautiful and enjoyable. What I am mostly satisfied with is that I didn‘t let “Today‘s Bride“, Pinterest, or David Tutera bamboozle me into spending thousands of dollars on things that do not matter in the grand scheme of things. Instead, Den and I have focused, and still focus, on putting our resources into what our marriage needs in order to be a source of life energy.
- Figure out what is making you anxious. Before and during my wedding, my anxiety escalated. It wasn't until I discussed this with my life coach that I realized I was more anxious about the marriage than the wedding. I take commitment very seriously, and by talking this out with someone who can help me navigate, I discovered that my anxiety came from a much deeper belief pattern that commitment equals being “trapped”. In my journey to live a life of freedom, I am discovering that the freedom resides within me. Far from trapping me, my beautiful marriage is what has set me free. Den is a huge part of my freedom journey because he challenges my most deep-seeded BS and together we are learning how to identify what we need and how to communicate it clearly to one another.
Thich Nhat Hanh said: “Anxiety, the illness of our time, comes primarily from our inability to live in the present moment.“ I know with everything in my heart that practicing mindfulness and stillness has been hugely beneficial to me and given me the tools to calm myself, stop the noises in my head, and consequently live more in moment. If there is only one thing that you take away from this piece, I would hope it is this: Find your stillness and practice it every day!