dear ex-reader,

I watched you get married today.

I cried behind my iPhone as I scrolled through the pictures that other attendees posted on Facebook, and I realized I’d never be a part of your life again. I should’ve been there brushing your veil off your shoulder and beaming through tears as I told you how beautiful you are. I’d inhale your bouquet and gush over and over again how perfect every tiny detail is and how I couldn’t be happier for you. I’d dance hard and fast with you to high school favorites, and I’d be breathless with joy at the end of the night as you went on your way as his wife.

I’d be so many things. But I can’t be. I couldn’t be. I was never invited to be a part of it.

copyright: SNFFNGLU @ Tumblr

copyright 2014: SNFFNGLU via Tumblr

I want to cry and yell and sigh and grieve over what could’ve been; but since I won’t be able to, I thought I’d share some newlywed advice here…from one wife to another:

/ Its okay to not feel yourself after getting married. Some people I’ve talked to even feel downright sad. You’ll experience a complete identity change, and its normal to react in different ways. I think we’re both strong, independent women, and defining this new role (apart from cultural and historical standpoints) for yourself is a process.

/ We were both raised in communities that assumed males think about sex 24/7, and so it might come as a surprise to you if you find yourself with a higher sex drive. Put to rest thoughts like Does he think I’m sexy enough? or Am I not good enough at sex? or a nice insane wildcard OMG, is he gay?!?! and throw stereotypes out the window. Mis-matched sex drives is something you’ll experience through different phases of your marriage.

/ You can be 27 and still feel 18.

/ I recently read that you won’t love your husband unconditionally. And I agree. He isn’t your child. And you aren’t his Savior. You chose to love him and will have to choose to love him for the rest of your life.

/ Your single friends won’t understand your married life. And that’s okay! But make sure you invest time into people who are in similar phases of life. They’ll be irreplaceable.

/ Never talk badly about your husband. Asking for advice is different than gossip (obviously), but advice sharing can easily turn into blathering about so-and-so not doing this-and-that.

/ I romanticize things. Too much, probably. I always believed we shared this idealism, and you can know that its okay if your past crosses your mind. You might think of ex-boyfriends or periods of your life before marriage, and that’s okay. Just don’t stay there. Living in the past isn’t good for single people, and its awful in relationships. But don’t sweat it if you daydream about college and no responsibilities.

/ Communicate. The issue at hand is rarely ever the real issue. And husbands sometimes don’t listen or they do forget and picking up hints? YIKES. Vagueness and ambiguity have no place here. Husband and I have had multiple arguments conversations communicating about communication. But one thing is true: make-up sex is the best!

/ Hold his hand. Ask his advice. Encourage him. And say “Thank You.”

/ Choose your battles. In our first year of marriage, I razzed on Husband about the way he cleaned the bathroom (?!). He was being helpful, selfless, and loving; but I let my stubborn way of accomplishing tasks overcome grace and thankfulness. Now, if Husband does something little I don’t like, I sigh and smile and choose to love all that is good in him…even if he leaves sock lint on the bathroom rug.

/ I love being lazy with husband. But I LOVE new adventures with him even more. Be active, learn new things, and be daring WITH HIM. You’ll never feel more alive.

/ He may be bigger than you, but be his Protector, his Safe Haven, his Supporter. You have the power to make him or break him.

Look for the good, and YOU WILL FIND IT.

 

Advertisements

light

Mornings are divine here. I’m always bundled when I let the chickens out of their coop. They race for breakfast and grass, even though the ground is still frozen. My cheeks pinken, and my boots crunch the frosty ground. There’s a quietness that settles over everything in the house, and I can silently sip my tea and breathe in the newness that only comes with another day. The sun slowly lights up the kitchen until there’s a spotlight highlighting the kitchen table. And then, I’m here. In the light.

I am optimistic in the light.

This hasn’t been an easy year, and its only March. I spent the afternoon with my mom, grandma, and sister a few days ago, and I just kept telling them, “I thought I’d have my act together by now.” Obviously, that wasn’t verbatim. The version my sister heard had a few more expletives. While I’ve always romanticized things, I still believed that by getting married, having a job, owning a house, living — I’d have it together. Nothing quite prepared me for paycheck to paycheck living or self-employment taxes or long, hard arguments in parking lots. No one told me how betrayed I’d feel when I didn’t receive the invitation to a friend’s wedding. And there’s no self-help articles on Google to -once and for all- rid me of body image issues.

I wish more people talked about reality. Its not the lightest topic, nor the most optimistic, but I think we dig ourselves into deeper holes when we live in a delusional state where everyone else has their shit together. I’m introverted and work in a career where I spend the majority of my days working alone. I was messaging a friend/colleague on Facebook about business yesterday, and her empathizing refreshed me so much so that I spent the evening artistically and professionally rejuvenated.

We need people.

And I hate that. I don’t like to depend on other people because I want to be enough. I’m scared of getting hurt and being disliked. I have a confident shell that can be broken with one blow, and it simply takes too long to recover sometimes. Bitterness is the easiest pill for me to swallow. And dammit, I like to be stubborn.

But I see how our hearts need relationships, how our lives are enriched and changed by them.

So, here I am. I’m showing up again. And I’ll most likely hide again, too. But I’m making the effort. I see the positive.

I am optimistic in this light.

0Y7A0075

 

the new break-ups of the happily married:

Relationships are always on my mind.

Before I was married, I focused more dominantly on my relationships with the opposite gender. I mean, look at any young girl’s diary; and I’m sure its riddled with embarrassing stories about young love and how the writer ranks socially amongst her peers (see Mortified Nation). But now, with a ring on my finger and a happy husband in the other room, I ache for understanding about girlfriends and BFFs. As a married woman in her mid-20s, where do you go for advice? In the age of information, I’d be lying if I didn’t hopelessly wander to Google in the middle of the night searching for answers because I know a simple search will yield countless feature articles, personal stories (read: bitter diatribes), and psychological essays.

tumblr_munao0zMSO1r2jwy0o1_1280

December brings reflection of 2014, and I can’t help but spend a little more time aching over what was lost than what was gained. It takes much more effort to create friendships of openness and trust than to lose them. There was a clear moment of defeat for me this year as I scrolled through social media and found one of my best friends engaged without telling me. (I could deviate from this and speak about the ill-effects of social media and how this age of information dithers relational skills, but you can listen to this one TEDx speaker’s opinion here.) She and I weren’t on the best of terms, but even then, I kept my fists up and fighting for normalcy…until I realized I was in the ring alone. And I could embrace anger and bitterness, however nothing masked the deep inadequacy I felt and still feel.

I touched on this topic in my previous post “not seeking bff,” and its something I continually revisit despite any declarations of letting go or accepting that circumstances simply (not-so-simply) change:

…having a best friend has been heavy on my heart after friendships broke off because someone has to move or another dates an asshole (don’t we all at some point?) and others — including myself — changed. We change our lifestyles or beliefs, and all of a sudden, the only common thing you share are the memories.

I wish I could settle this issue in my heart, but I sit here still aching and confused, and it would be misleading to wrap this blog up with “copy & paste” advice and pretending to know what to do. I’ve been attempting to string together words and ideas for the past 40 minutes, and I’m no expert at this. If I was, I wouldn’t be up at 5AM trying to convey my social flaws. I could say that releasing yourself from an unhealthy relationship is the best thing you can do (the overwhelmingly popular advice), but that definiteness gives me weak knees and a headache. How does one do that anyway? Or do you hold on simply waiting for the other shoe to drop? And additionally, are these drifting friendships the new break-ups of the happily married?

You can’t see the forest for the trees.

I’ve never been good at masking emotion. Unfortunately, some of emotions are displayed through masks. Does that make sense? Or do I contradict myself?

I’ve dealt with anger frequently this year, and it manifests itself in grudges, bitterness, and self-deprecation. Those closest to me can tell when I’m stoking the coals in my heart, gearing to set things ablaze. Long talks and a contemplative heart, however, extinguish my anger to find fear and hurt. The issue is never really the issue. And while most of the important issues (marriage, family, faith) are sorted because of the attention given them, other issues (like waning friendships and subsequently, self-love) don’t receive the attention they need to be quelled. These flames burn steady.

woodstove

I wondered for a long time, and I still wonder, why life pans out the way it does. What dictates where people find jobs or lovers or happiness? Is God in the fibers — the smallest of details – of the thread that knits our lives together? And if so, when do you make definite decisions? You know, the big ones that change the course of something and so forth.

I’ve always preached that God is in the details; but in this very real adult life, my focus isn’t as clear. I’m stuck here studying each and every tree, and I can’t see the majesty of the forest.

I love the quiet Winter brings. Most reflection happens now in this hibernation between busy months. And if you hadn’t seen me in a while but asked if anything was new, I’d likely say that everything is the same. Nothing new to see here. But so much has changed. Within the year, my values changed, my necessities shifted, and my priorities completely rearranged themselves. And it’s okay.

Tonight, the only coals I stoke are the real ones in the wood stove beside me. And the only flames that rise are ones of appreciation. For the forest. 

You can’t see the forest for the trees.”   // American English idiom

 

 

not seeking bff.

I’ve always had a best friend. I mean, I am best friends with my husband, but I always had a girl best friend. The one you’re supposed to call when you just need to cry or get a coffee or just sigh really big together. Someone to share clothes with and try on makeup together at Sephora. I always had a best friend like that.

At least, I did.

When I was younger, it was my next door neighbor; and I’m surprised there wasn’t a path in the grass from our frequent trips back and forth to each other’s houses. My high-school best friend and I shared birthday parties, summers on the lake, boy drama, and even naps: because when your favorite activity is sleeping, you just have to do that together too. I was lucky enough to have my high-school best friend join me in college too, where I gained another best friend who expanded my small-town world to include more grown-up things…you know, mainly learning (and saying) new curse words, complaining about work together, and talking about s-e-x.

best friend

This topic of having a best friend has been heavy on my heart after friendships broke off because someone has to move or another dates an asshole (don’t we all at some point?) and others — including myself — changed. We change our lifestyles or beliefs, and all of a sudden, the only common thing you share are the memories.

So I’ve been scrambling in this season to find someone, anyone, to be my best girl friend. IT IS EXHAUSTING. I’ve seen women have best friends, or besties, or just bests — one for each category of life, too. “She’s my church bestie…we’re work bests!…oh, she’s my best friend back home.” The idea of best is to the be the highest, the only. I was frustrated, hurt, tired of not being good enough. So on one of my lonelier nights, I was wallowing how no one liked me Googling “no best friend” and came across an article from this amazing gal over at xoJane.

Certainly, I have a litany of good friends. Great friends, even. Amazing, funny and responsive people who I’m happy and grateful to have in my life. But like with almost everything I do, I harbor a secret, gnawing desire to be the very best. I want to be the best to someone –- not just anyone’s best, but someone who’s worthy of being my best’s best.

But of course, having a best means automatically seconding everyone else –- best by its very definition also means only. Best friends create a hierarchy that makes everyone else feel less than best. It leaves the best-friendless wondering what’s wrong with us. Are we not worthy of a friendship pedestal of our very own?

And maybe that’s what’s wrong with the whole idea of a best friend in the first place. Maybe expanding the idea of soulmates beyond the realm of the romantic (where, let’s admit it, it’s caused enough problems already) into the jurisdiction of the platonic isn’t such a great idea.

I don’t know that I could find a single, perfect friend willing and able to supply everything I need out of a friendship -– someone to both drink and work out with, a wild partier and a driven achiever, an encourager and a hard-truth-teller, a shoulder and a confidante, a spontaneous free spirit and pragmatic tether. Instead, I have a small circle of friends each of whom fill different roles in my life.

It’s obvious in this season of settling into a new home, marriage, a town where I yearn to grow roots, I have to be okay with the idea of not having a best friend. But what about erasing the notion all together? Different friends for different roles. Can we break the desire for being number one in exchange for absolute contentment in our friendships?