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Scared Beyond Belief, Thrilled Beyond Dreams


Last year when I wrote about my own fear of marriage, I was blown away by the response. But today, reading Sarah’s post, I now understand why the reaction was so strong. Because this fear and the way it manifests, it says so much about what marriage means and why it’s simultaneously so reckless and so rewarding to allow yourself to care for another person the way that marriage requires. But seeing someone else confront their fear makes it that much easier for me to confront my own. 

—Maddie

Scared Beyond Belief, Thrilled Beyond Dreams | A Practical Wedding

I recently became engaged, and my fiancé Mark is truly the man of my dreams. Except at night, in my actual dreams. In those he’s kind of a jerk.

It is the day before our wedding and we have failed to make preparations. I find my beloved lounging by a hotel pool, taking a luxurious drag on a cigarette. Rage. “You should have told me you were a smoker before we got engaged!” I shout. “You’re stuck now,” Dream Mark replies, and saunters off with disdain. Upon his return, he grudgingly hands me a peace kitten, but you can tell he’s still really pissed. The wedding guests are cancelling left and right.

I catch Dream Mark smoking all the time now, and he’s always a real meanie about it when I find out.

Dream Mark tells me he’s leaving New Jersey for Portland, three thousand miles away. He’s got a sweet gig lined up, feeding wild dolphins for cash. I ask him, “Why can’t I go? I like dolphins.” He says I can’t follow him, then he hops on a Greyhound without looking back.

Please allow me to explain. You see, I’m terrified of marriage.

It’s not because my parents had a bad marriage. I wasn’t a kid who soured on the idea after endless nights of feuding between two adults who could no longer stand the sight of one another. I never survived a vicious divorce or witnessed an extramarital affair. On the contrary, my parents had a great marriage, and that’s maybe part of my problem.

It started about five years ago, when both Marks were still a ways in my future. I was living across the country and dating a nice enough fellow at the time. When this fellow and I met, I already had non-negotiable plans to head back home to Jersey. Any sensible person could see that this move would mark the natural ending to our brief relationship. Then one evening I came home from a night of white wine margaritas and handholding under stars to receive the (almost) Worst Phone Call of My Life. My father had lung cancer.

Suddenly, saying goodbye to said fellow no longer seemed like the logical thing to do. Suddenly I had a time limit; maybe even a deadline. I had to get married right now and make dad a grandpa before it was too late. I didn’t have enough time to find myself a Jersey boy, so I set myself to work luring Mr. Nice Enough to the Garden State.

Thus began a tedious and ultimately unfulfilling year of long-distance dating. A handful of half-hearted overtures were made toward relocating and starting a family, but nothing ever came of it. When (to no one’s surprise but my own) it finally sputtered out, I felt my heart turn a cold 180. Over the course of the year this heart had been punctured again and again by the rises and falls of hope for my father’s remission. It had ached to witness my mother’s pain as she sat by my father’s bedside. It had seen the beautiful, terrifying truth of what marriage really means and it had decided this was not for me.

This was when Mark came in. He was sweet and funny and an excellent listener (and, for the record, a non-smoker) and I was definitely not going to get attached. For the longest time he remained This Guy I’m Kind of Seeing. I introduced him to my family, but continued to deny that there was anything serious going on here. I rejected his first two offers to move in together, pretending to prefer the comfort of my moldy basement apartment.

Almost exactly two years after my father’s diagnosis, I received the Actual Worst Phone Call of My Life, blowing the original Worst Phone Call of My Life totally out of the water. Mark left work the moment he found out. He picked me up, ID tag and striped necktie still dangling from his neck, and drove the sixty miles to the hospital. He hung around the waiting room for a while just in case my family needed anything, and then quietly slipped out so we could to say goodbye to Dad. It wasn’t until then that I finally allowed myself to love him completely.

Before long, people started asking when we were going to get married. I’d remind them that I was dating a younger man who wasn’t ready to settle down just yet. This was half of the truth. The other half? Even as we marched forward and ever more deeply into love, I continued to view a ring on my finger as merely the first step toward the terrible and unavoidable death of my lover. (Mark takes offense to this. “What makes you think I’m going first?!” I have no real reason to think so. But he totally is.)

Although in fact Mark had a bit more growing up to do and I had a lot more freaking out to do, in my saner moments I knew that we belonged together. I began to suspect that he might one day propose, and I worried that my fears would cause me to push him away. When the dreaded/hoped-for moment finally arrived, it was every bit as memorable and joyous as it deserved to be. The ring is now firmly on my finger, and Mark continues to be in good health (and still a non-smoker). So far he hasn’t bolted for the bus—he doesn’t much care for dolphins anyway. My subconscious is working overtime to prepare me for the day when another man I love will leave me for someplace far away. In the meantime, I am discovering what it means to have found the person with whom I will spend a lifetime: I am simultaneously scared beyond belief and thrilled beyond dreams.

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  • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

    I’m so sorry about your dad.

    As for fear of marriage, this just nails is. The commiting part of marriage isn’t actually so scary (to me, at least), it’s looking at marriage in the grand schemes of two intertwined lives which must inevitably end that’s scary. The being left behind at the end of a life well lived no longer with the person you’ve loved for so long.

  • LIZ (SINCE 1982)

    Being “scared beyond belief and thrilled beyond dreams” – this is very well said and feels so familiar. My love is the one with nightmares in which I’m a total jerk (Dream Me picks up guys in front of him and moves away without telling him, among other fun scenarios – although not to work with dolphins! Dream Me is jealous of Dream Mark!); my own fear manifests in bursts of crippling anxiety while awake. We both struggled with it for a while after getting engaged – surely this wasn’t what it was supposed to feel like? Shouldn’t we be walking on air, relaxing into the comforting knowledge that we would be together forever?

    But the forever part – that’s just it. Most of us will never undertake anything else in our lives, make another vow, that has death right in there front and center, intrinsic to the very concept, unavoidable, irrevocable. Even those of us who didn’t/don’t plan to use the traditional wording, the idea “until death do us part” is very real and, to me, bubbles up to the top of my mind frequently as I turn it over and try to make sense of this mundane, enormous thing we have decided to do. In thinking about what it will mean to be married, I am forced to contemplate my own mortality and that of the man I love most in the world. It’s a hard thing to come up against, and I don’t know if I’ll ever really get my arms around it.

    • Hannah

      I totally relate. I think I’m more afraid of losing my fiance to death than I am of him leaving me. My grandfather dying this summer didn’t help (he and my grandma were together for over 60 years). The thought of my other half ceasing to exist is unbearable, and sometimes I get freaked out even thinking about it. I try to remember that I’m blessed to love somebody that much though.

  • AliceMay

    This absolutely nails it for me. I think that my fear stems exactly from the fact that our relationship has been long-distance, and will be until we get married in July. Because the pattern of our relationship involves so much ‘parting’, and each time I have to wrench myself away (and become an emotional wreck in the process. I think British Airways staff now see me coming), and I know that one day, we will be parted, I am afraid to take that complete and utter leap of faith to put my whole being on the line. But, I think for precisely that reason, on the day, those words (which we plan to use) of ‘until death do us part’ will take on so much more meaning, because we have seen from experience, that it precisely in our parting that the love for one another, the force that allows us to give ourselves completely to one another, is revealed.

  • Sarah O

    Sheryl Nissinen’s “The Conscious Bride: Women Unveil Their True Feelings about Getting Hitched” has a lot to say about the inextricability of marriage and mourning. Next to APW, it’s the best marriage preparation source I have used. Good luck!

  • http://www.cantabridgette.blogspot.com Cait

    Thank you for sharing this, Sarah. I’m so sorry to hear about your dad. It sounds like Mark is an amazing support system! I wonder where these “Mean [partner]” dreams come from? The only time my fiance A has ever been mean to me in almost five years is in my dreams. Dream A is basically acting out my worst relationship fears, even though Reality A has never been close to that mean or selfish. I’m kinda glad to hear I’m not the only one with these dreams…

    • MDBethann

      Maybe the “mean partner” dreams are our subconscious’ way of trying to protect ourselves – “don’t get too attached, he/she isn’t as perfect as you think” or maybe it’s our brain’s way of showing us that we can survive the loss if it ever happens. Who knows?

      As long as Reality Partner doesn’t act like a mean partner (or we don’t act like a mean partner in reality) then in the end, we’re good.

      In all honesty, I didn’t have “mean” dreams before our wedding, but every time I got behind the wheel of my car, I saw myself in a horrible wreck. Really un-nerving to have those flashes while you’re actually driving.

  • Allie

    I spent the last few days of our honeymoon inconsolably depressed and weepy because our whole lives were going to be over soon because life was moving too fast and just keeps speeding up. Our anniversary also saw me majorly depressed with said feelings. In hindsight we also managed to pick a date that coincides with the death (at the age of 21) of a very good friend while I was in college, which I think further reinforces/guides my morbid subconscious towards these thoughts and feelings…

    • kyley

      because our whole lives were going to be over soon because life was moving too fast and just keeps speeding up

      I have this exact same source of sadness. I’ve been trying to be more mindful of our time together as a result. I try to spend less time fussing with my phone while we watch tv, for example, and try to be more present with my partner. Because the truth is, it *will* go by too fast. I recently told my partner, through tears, that I wish we could have a million different lifetimes together because there is no way one will be enough.

  • http://byjacki.com Jacki

    Oh, wow. While our situations are not at all the same, I can totally relate to the scared/thrilled dichotomy. I’m so sorry for the loss of your Dad. Eff cancer.

    Before Matt, I never knew the “scared beyond belief” part – I never had a real fear of loss – because I had insulated myself from actually partnering up with a person I loved that deeply. Since Matt, I’ve learned a new depth of love, and new depths of the accompanying fears and joys.

  • Elemjay

    I think it was Meg who said somewhere on this site (and I paraphase) – “all marriages end – either in death or divorce”. Dear OP, it seems like this is much more real for you than many of us – but it’s there all the time whether we acknowledge it or not. And they don’t talk about THAT in romcoms…. It’s deep stuff this marriage business – good luck!

  • Shiri

    Oh, my heart hurts for you. This is lovely and true, and terribly painful, too. I’m so sorry about your dad. You’re so brave to face this fear this way, and to talk about it. Thank you for not running from that fear, for embracing the opportunity to love someone enough to be afraid of the day he may leave you.

    Also, peace kitten?! Why is this not a thing?!

  • Zoo

    That last sentence NAILS IT. For me, the most unexpected side effect of getting engaged was “sudden fear of mortality.” My fiance and I both gave ourselves the heeby-jeebies talking late at night about being together forever, until we’re old and grey, and then the reality of growing old hit us both simultaneously. When people would say I looked “blissful” or “glowing,” I had to resist the urge to tell them that the “blushing bride” flush in my cheeks was caused by my heart rate increasing while I contemplated the nature of death.

    • Ashley

      This was my experience almost exactly! I got married last May and they newly(ish) found fear of my husband’s (and by extension, all loved ones’) mortality is still looming. But to love, of course, at some point you have to face loss.

  • Catcat

    Wow, you guys have been reading my mind. It’s really great to see that other people are dealing with these same emotions and fears.

    I feel like I think about death ALL THE TIME now. It’s one of the main things about getting married that really makes me feel “grown up.” Until now I have been single and (sort of) carefree and “the future” was always just that–the future! But my wedding–that’s a milestone that means I’m “grown up” and growing up, as awesome as that is, means we’re closer to death. I am 30 and do not regret waiting through my 20s to find my guy, but I also kind of wish we had met earlier to have more years together (even though I know it wouldn’t have worked out–in my early 20s there is no way I would have dated this guy!) Thinking about one of us dying before the other is so very deeply sad.

    I have found a sort of contentment in the same way as @Kyley upthread–I am trying to make a point to be very present and conscious and loving in this moment. This does a lot to assuage my fears and make me feel grateful for this man and this relationship I have right now, no matter how long it lasts.

  • Lindsay

    i never used to fear death. now that i’ve committed to spending the rest of my days (and he his) with someone, i’ve found myself in tears on too many occasions thinking about how one day one of of us will be without the other. i can hardly stand the thought…i never knew the prospect of death could be so f’ing terrifying.

    and sarah, my heart breaks for your loss. i can only hope that time has done even a little bit of healing. xoxox

  • Rachel

    My boyfriend is also great in real life, but a jerk in my dreams! I dreamt once that he invited me to his wedding to someone else, which took place in a swimming pool. “But…I thought we were going to get married soon,” I said, as everyone treaded water in tuxes and gowns. “Can’t you be happy for me?” he replied.

    In another dream, he ran away screaming during a zombie attack, leaving me to fend for myself. I think these dreams are a funny manifestation of healthy nervousness about being together for the long haul.

    • Catcat

      Oh man, I have dreams that my husband (of two weeks…!) is getting back together with his ex. In these dreams I come home and they’re lounging on my bed eating chocolates, or I meet him somewhere and he shows up with her because he got the impression that I wasn’t committed to him, so he thought it would be cool to start seeing her again.

      I thought at first I was having these dreams because I was subconsciously irrationally jealous (or something?!?! it was really confusing!) but it makes a lot more sense that these dreams would be a reflection of greater in-it-for-the-long-haul-wedding-and marriage-anxiety.

  • Anon for now

    I’m not terrified of death, but divorce. I never feared us breaking up before the wedding. Even when we fought, it never occurred to me that breaking up was an option. But now that we’re married, I am always scared he’s going to wake up one morning and say, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

    • http://theaftercath.blogspot.com Cathi

      Huh. That’s the opposite of what a lot of people (myself included) report of feeling post-wedding.

      I wonder if it’s because the prospect of “breaking up” is so much more loaded now that you’re married? If he wants out, it means divorce, rather than just walking away.

      Divorce scares me much more than breaking up ever did, but I don’t find divorce as likely as I did breaking up while we were “just” dating.

  • Amy

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your father. I know what you mean, the fear of losing your partner. In the my previous relationships it never showed up, but since meeting my husband, it’s a constant small nagging fear. We’ve only been married six months, but I absolutely cannot stand the thought of being without him. It’s especially hard as we watch his grandparents deal with health issues and gradually become weaker even as they continue to try to care for each other. No nightmares yet though, I hope they’re as lighthearted as yours when they do!

  • Hannah

    I was recently talking with one of my newlywed friends about this. She was telling me how she has developed an acute fear of flying since getting engaged/married because she is so terrified of dying. I feel the same way. She told me she read somewhere that it’s a really common feeling for people who have recently gotten engaged. Once you have found the person who want to spend your life with you want that life to last as long as possible, and the knowledge that it may be shorter than you anticipate, and that it surely will end, is terrifying. And rightly so!

    • Lindsey

      Agree! I became irrationally inconsolable earlier this week when I didn’t hear from my guy for FIVE HOURS, during which time he would be flying in a helicopter from an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico and then driving through Mardi Gras traffic in south Louisiana. He should have only been out of touch for less than two hours of that time.

      I was completely convinced he was dead and I was so upset. Turns out he didn’t turn his phones back on because he was in such a hurry to get finally home. When he finally called, I calmed down, just to get all worked back up again when I saw him. We are in pre-engagement stage and the thought of losing him terrifies me, even when I’m so mad at him (for doing dumb stuff like not calling me to tell me he’s alive.)

  • Kristen

    Shortly after getting engaged my fear of elevators got 10 times worse. My therapist said when you’re stressed and more anxious in general, our normal fears become amplified. I had to do a lot of deep breathing in the elevator and I wore my inhaler out trying to use the stairs more, but it eventually faded. And knowing I was kind of doing it to myself, helped it feel less scary. Now when I have a fear dream about elevators and for the next few days am scared riding in them, I can talk myself down, reminding myself its more likely I’m stressed about my mother-in-law or that huge work project that’s looming over my head. It makes the fear more manageable for me.

  • Hintzy

    Thank you for this, I know what you mean about the Dream version of someone… I will occasionally have nightmares and separation anxiety creeps into my unconscious mind, my dear future husband is very accommodating when I poke at him in the middle of the night until he wakes so I can tell him I’ve had a nightmare like a little kid. So yeah, I’m right there with you at being very terrified and also very excited and overwhelmingly happy.

  • Hannah K

    OTHER PEOPLE HAVE THESE DREAMS?!

  • http://unforgettablyordinary.wordpress.com Dyana

    I’m so sorry for your loss and can understand the aftermath of what-if’s that follows such a loss. It can be crippling at times, so it’s an awesome thing that you had the strength to say “Yes” and face your fear head on. And then share about it! Thank you.

    I am not engaged to my Love…yet, but I often tell him I MUST go first. Since I ‘m almost a decade older the chances are in my favor. In a twisted way I’m glad that I have a fear of losing him because it reinforces to me the depth of my love for him. Having been married for 12 years to the wrong person, it’s a relief to know that my ability to love is not broken, or worse non existent. I don’t know if one day marrying my Love will intensify my fear or my resolve to live everyday to it’s fullest (cliche I know but relevant). Either way I look forward to someday finding out.

  • http://www.whorrak.com/adimatt Adi

    I’ve always wanted to get married, and it wasn’t until I was engaged that my brain went, Shit. What now?! I started freaking out and my then-fiancé, a child of the unhappiest marriage I’ve ever witnessed, was the one who was ready, while I, surrounded by only happy endings, was freaking out. I immediately began having nightmares about being tricked into leaving him for my ex. I would wake up crying and miserable and there he’d be, peacefully asleep. So sure. Now that we’re married I feel like an idiot for doubting us, but oh god. Those dreams. They GET to you.

  • Tymps

    Gosh. This exactly. I don’t have this fear but my future husband does. It stems from his loss of his dad at 4 years old and the fact that this has been his only serious relationship. He’s a bit of an eeyore and so getting engaged has just freaked him out so much about what is after death. Can we really be forever together? Is it a black room
    Without each other forever? I try to help him through these panic attacks and I can’t. Maybe a follow up about anyone who has conquered this fear is in order.

    • kyley

      Honestly, I spent a fair amount of therapy time crying about these issues, and that was the biggest help for me.

      Signed,
      Another anxious person with morbid preoccupations

    • http://landlockedlove.blogspot.com Kelly

      I have to say, I first misread “eeyore” as “eyesore” and was like, Wow–well, ok then!

      I have nothing meaningful to contribute. Just had to share my idiocy, and hope it make someone else laugh as much as I did.

      • Itsy Bitsy

        I did the same thing. :)

    • Steph

      My grandfather died a week before my dad’s 5th birthday. Thinking of my grandmother being widowed just 7 years after their wedding day definitely pushed its way to the forefront of my mind while I was engaged. In my experience, this isn’t a fear one ever fully conquers, but instead pushes through and manages one day at a time. When it came down to it, the thought of not marrying him because he might die before me sometime in the future just didn’t make sense

  • http://thedilettantista.com/ The Dilettantista

    Yep. This. It is true. And I am very sorry for your loss.

    When I’m faced with emotions I don’t like I tend to go into planning mode, and fortunately there is a lot you can do to plan for this. We’re a society that likes to shy away from the reality of death and so that can leave us unprepared when the unthinkable (but inevitable) happens. I’m the daughter of an estate planner, and at a very young age I said: “Mom, don’t you feel like your job is morbid, helping people plan for what happens when they die?” And she said no, because these are necessary plans, even if they are hard ones, and ultimately she is helping people and giving them peace of mind.

    When I turned 18 my parents made me sign all their power of attorney, next of kin forms. They told me what they want to happen should they ever be declared brain-dead or have to rely on life-support to maintain their basic functions. It was a hard, scary, uncomfortable conversation and I am glad we had it.

    My Manfriend and I have had the same conversation. He’s much less comfortable about it than I am, because he didn’t grow up talking about wills and beneficiaries, but these conversations have to be had.

    And then I read this horror story in the NYTimes, it just hammers home the reality that we need to be prepared for the inevitable and it offers a great checklist of things that you should know to prepare, financially and otherwise: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/12/your-money/estate-planning/shell-tell-you-its-time-to-think-ahead.html?pagewanted=1&ref=general&src=me&_r=0.

    So, while the reality that death will happen is scary and uncomfortable and sad, there are so many things you can do in the meantime to give yourself the peace of mind and knowledge that the people you love will be taken care of when you are gone.

    • Emily

      YES. TO. THIS.

      When my Dad died, in addition to how hard that was, I had to navigate multiple paperwork nightmares. There was no will, no power of attorney, no medical proxy, nada. I was lucky that I got a list of all of his accounts, log-ins, and passwords before he died, and lucky, too, that a lot of people in positions of power at banks and credit card companies took pity on me and worked around my legal issues. But if he’d had more assets, I would have been screwed. Ugh, I get a headache just thinking about it now.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I signed my Advance Health Care Directive on Christmas Eve, 6 weeks after getting married. I re-did my will a week later. I worried my co-workers, who I had witness all this, would worry I was sick. But I knew it just needed to get done.

    • http://www.WillowynJP.com Willowyn

      I thought I was the only one who was terrified of losing her husband. We married nearly 10 years ago – second marriage for both of us. I was 44 and he was 55. Every day is precious. Thank you for the link to the NYT article and the “Get Your &%*! Together” website. Now SHARED.

  • 39bride

    Oh yeah, same feelings for the same reasons. Fortunately I’m so good at denial that it doesn’t even leak into my dreams. But I learned at a young age that people leave you (often), and often do it in ways they have no control over. Being open enough to someone that you’re willing to marry them after that is a very special kind of (terrifying) vulnerability.

  • Wendy

    Thank you so much for posting this and I am so sorry on the loss of your father.

    My fiancé and I were not engaged at the time I received the Second Worst Phone Call, but we were dating, and like Mark, he left work, helped me pack, and went to the gas-station with me to fill my car up. He also made me wait until I was a more emotionally stable person to get behind the wheel of a car before driving the four hours to see my mother. He was also there to put me on a plane 1 year later (now engaged) at 5am when I got the Worst Phone Call. He joined me a few days later and although he did not understand any of what I or my family was going through he never left my side.

    After being engaged for 2 years we made plans and are getting married in June, after mom passed I just started dragging me feet and coming up with excuses on why we had not set a date yet. It was not that I didn’t want to marry him, it was that marriage was final and what would happen if he died? What would I do? All of that love we shared between us would be gone. It was not until my dad called to say “Wendy, you need to get married” that I finally realized even if something bad happens the love does not go away. My dad is proof of that, he still loves my mom and always will. Just because your loved one dies, does not mean the love dies too.

    Sarah you have summed up very beautifully my biggest fear of getting married to the man I love with every piece of my being. Inevitably our marriage will end and as long as it is death that ends it, we have learned to love each other for a lifetime and to me that is very worth all the pain that comes when you have lost someone you have shared everything with.

  • Brenda

    I have this all the time as well. My father died suddenly in a car accident when I was a teenager, and I now feel acutely aware of the possibility of sudden death, for either me or my husband (and my mother, and my grandmother, and everyone else I know….) I tend to be a bit of a worrier and pessimist anyway, and now I find myself worried all the time that today will be The Day. Because The Day always comes, you just don’t know when – and having had The Day once before I know it’s never when you’re expecting it.

    I try to remind myself of all the people who haven’t had terrible things happen – I look at my husband’s family which has had very few tragedies in a very large family, and at all the people who DON’T drop dead every day, and also try to let myself off the hook by remembering that worrying about it will neither make it happen or not happen, and the best I can do is try to enjoy every day and take reasonable precautions againt accidents in my life.

  • Sarah

    Thank you for reading, everyone! I had no idea my very first post would elicit such a response.

  • anon

    My fiance says he wants us to die together in a plane crash because he couldn’t bear to be left behind without me. I find that so incredibly heartbreaking but romantic at the same time. I have also never felt that fear with anyone else before him. Terrifying but powerful.

  • Britt

    I am so sorry for your loss. I share your fear from a similarly rooted place. My father died unexpectedly one night when I was 12 and left my mother a very young widow. He was my best friend, and growing up I told my family I would never get married. I didn’t tell them it was because I didn’t want to lose someone else that I loved. I hadn’t had dreams about my dad for several years before my husband and I got engaged and then all of the sudden BAM! There he is, saying hello and how have you been and what’s your man like since I can’t shake his hand and threaten his life? I’ve always had a hyper-awareness of my own mortality since he passed and now I was hyper-aware of my husband-to-be’s mortality.

    We’ve been married for about four months now and I’m still regularly freaking out that he’s been gone too long on this quick trip to the grocery store, he must have been killed in a car crash. It’s getting a little easier every day not to think about death and instead think about enjoying our life. I also made him promise that he would never die. And like the previous comment, he’s made me promise that we’ll die together in some sort of accident when we’re old and don’t drive well anymore.

    • http://brusselsproutblog.blogspot.com Cassandra

      I have totally asked my man for the same promise! (Last night, actually, was the most recent edition…)
      “Promise me you won’t die, k?”
      “I promise I’ll do my best not to.”

      He’s been maintaining for years that he’ll be the first to go, but I’ve gotten real sick lately, so I think I’ll beat him to the punch ;)

      I just find it funny, these promises we ask for… like we have any control over it outside of basic lifestyle choices and reasonable safety precautions!

  • Louise

    I have a similar fear, though no recent, personal trauma. In day one of our honeymoon I had a panic attack while snorkeling. It was so bizarre. I was out onthe sand crying hysterically because I just did not feel equipped to be someone’s primary person. For a few days after we got married, I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that one of us will bury the other. I was a lot of fun to hang out with. Eventually I got past it enough to have fun in Hawaii, but it haunts me still… And now we’re moving literally halfway around the world for my career so I’m sure that will help my fear of being the one who’s supposed to take care of him and of losing him…

  • http://www.foreveryoungadult.com Erin

    GIRL. I could have written this exact post. (I still have both of my parents, God be good, but my friends not-so-jokingly call me the Angel of Death, because everyone around me dies.) And falling in love, to me, was just adding another name on the list of people I’m going to lose some day, and it was HARD to accept that whatever time we get is better than no time at all.

    For the record, though, Dream Mark is kind of hysterical. Maybe you can hit it with him in various sexy ways, thus relieving stress and allowing you to enjoy Real Mark even more.

    • Sarah

      Oh, Dream Mark. I always was a sucker for those haughty impulsive types.

  • Kayla

    Dream fiancés are the weirdest! Mine has chased me down the street hitting me with a dead fish, planned a surprise wedding in the middle of a workday, and shown up to our wedding wearing nothing but a towel.

    I am actually really relieved to know that I’m not the only person who’s partner is a dream jerk.

  • http://brusselsproutblog.blogspot.com Cassandra

    This one hit me hard. I just spent the week in an another state with my adopted dad who is in the terminal stages of cancer. He and his wife are the first examples of a healthy and happy marriage (not to mention a functional family) that I’ve come across, and I had to wait until my 20’s to find it. Now I know I’ll never see him again, but what hurts worse is seeing him slowly slip away while holding his wife’s hand (“the beautiful, terrifying truth of what marriage really means…”)… and amidst all my piles of baggage, this new fear of loving someone so dearly only to lose them has plopped itself right down in the forefront.

    Oh, yeah, did I mention I’m getting married next month?

    Fortunately, my intended is amazing and understands. But still… this one hit me hard.

    • Sarah

      Hey Cassandra,

      Wow, what timing. There is obviously never a good time to lose a parent, but what an experience to be having at a time in your life when the world demands joy from you. I will not tell you that it is better to have loved and lost then to never have loved at all. I won’t tell you to remember all the good times you had with your dad, or to just be grateful that you had this shining example of love in your life, because for a really long time I wanted to stab to death every kind soul that said anything like that to me. Those words won’t make this better right now. (They probably will one day.) The best thing I can think of to say is to be kind to yourself on your wedding day. Whatever it is you end up feeling as you walk down that aisle is totally, completely okay.

  • Trena

    I’m going to say something that really has nothing to do with the post, though I did enjoy reading it, and thought about my own rocky relationship with my parents and their barely-there marriage.

    I live in Portland, and wish there were wild dolphins!!!! haha We’re not even on the beach, but more like an hour inland! Even if we were, Oregon water is a little too cold for those awesome creatures. This is my random thought bubble as I read about your dream. So no worries, Dream Mark wouldn’t be coming here :)

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