*Abilene, Associate Director of Institutional Advancement for a national nonprofit & Wolfgang, Ski Shop Manager/Golf Course Assistant Superintendent *
As a fellow dweller, I found myself wishing that Abilene had written this post four years ago when I was getting married. Because choosing to enjoy something when you can see all its flaws so plainly in front of you, all the things that caused you frustration leading up to—it’s not an easy accomplishment. And personally, it took me way too long to figure out how to do it. But letting going can be a powerful point of healing, and often the person who benefits from it the most is you. Unfortunately, I figured this out long after our wedding had passed, but I’m hoping Abilene can help other dwellers figure it out a little sooner today.
I’ve always had a hard time letting go. It’s not that I hold grudges—okay, so maybe it is. I’m a Dweller. I replay conversations in my head long after they’re dead and buried. Part of it is anxiety, part of it is my obsessive nature.
Why am I telling you this? Well, being a Dweller and trying to plan a wedding is not an easy task. When crazy emotions jump into or down your throat, it’s hard to shrug them off and move on with your life. I was prepared for the wedding planning process to be more difficult than the movies portray; however, I was not prepared for how difficult it would be. Never in my life did I imagine I’d cry so many tears, conduct so many angry tirades, spend so much time writing “unsent letters” to people who irritated me.
My anger and bitterness carried me over the year of our engagement. I came to be what I affectionately refer to as The Anti-Bride or Crabzilla, and what others referred to as Such A Bitch. Basically, I spent an entire year with a huge chip on my shoulder because people kept telling me how I should feel. I was defensive, frustrated and easily upset when the rest of the world wanted me to be excited, glowing, and babbling about my wedding plans.
I’ll echo the sentiments of many brilliant APW writers and readers: it’s ridiculous how people who barely know you judge your wedding-related decisions, make you feel like an inadequate child, and then wrap up the conversation by saying, “Well, it’s your day. Do what makes you happy.” Yeah right. When you’re a Dweller, you can’t shake these comments. Cut to the quick, that chip on your shoulder gets bigger and bigger until your arm falls off.
I clutched this anger and bitterness all the way up to the morning of our wedding. I hated our rehearsal dinner. It doesn’t matter that everyone else seemed to have a great time—all I could focus on was my rotten mood and how our wedding was going to suck. Everyone was going to leave early, no one was going to dance, the food would be terrible, everything would go wrong. I just wanted it to be over so we could get back to our normal lives!
Luckily, this was when big sister swooped in to rescue her little sister. She told me to put everyone else aside and make it my day—and she actually meant it. “You’ve worked so hard all year to plan this thing, and if you don’t decide to say f*** it and have a good time, you’re going to regret it. Stop worrying about what everyone else thinks! It’s about you and Wolfgang.”
The night passed uneventfully, and without sleep (my darling cat made sure of that). Our ceremony was at 11:00am, so my mom, sister, best friend, and I piled into the car in the morning and drove to the country club. After yet another slightly heated conversation on the way there, I took my sister’s sage advice from the night before and decided I had done all I could do to make this wedding happen—from here on out, que sera, sera.
Suddenly, I became the eye of the storm instead of the hurricane I’d become accustomed to. As the excitement and nervousness flurried around me, I remained calm and even—dare I say it—serene. At one point, I remember saying, “Is Wolfgang here yet?” He was, and I knew that was all that really mattered.
I spent the rest of the day with a smile on my face. Not a stupid fake one that makes your cheeks shake, a real, genuine, effortless smile that couldn’t be helped. We pledged our love and lives to each other, we danced and drank and even sampled the (delicious) food. The day came off without a hitch—and when everyone left early, we were relieved to see them go and finally have some time to ourselves!
Forcing yourself to decide to be happy is hard, especially when you’re a Dweller. You can say it all you want, but it won’t take hold until you actually believe it. When my brain finally gave me the respite from Dwelling I so desperately needed, I uncurled my fingers from the cliff and allowed myself to fall—and you know what? I didn’t crash and die. The wedding happened, and it was great, and now it’s over. I’d have to say that the other side of the decision is pretty darn sweet.