“Maybe I’ll get curious and see if I can go beyond my resistance and experience the goodness.” –Pema Chodron
I have a confession to make. I have been comparing myself to you, APWers. I have been striving to find your clarity and your sense of community but I have judged your weddings while trying to superficially be part of them. I have felt very alone in this.
I am not sure why now is the right time to tell you all this. Well, that’s not true. I know exactly why now is the right time. I am about to lose my job, or think I am. One of the safest, most secure and consistent things in life is going to be washed away in a wave of dull office cubes and a very substantial paycheck. And so that’s the rub: I make a lot of money and am about to be laid off. And, just because, my company has pulled back the tuition money I had planned to spend on a designer gown. It feels like some kind of real, deep loss. But why do I feel like I am going to lose so much and yet today, right now, also feel as though I just gained everything?
I have been trying to explain this to myself. Trying to understand what this really means to my future, my partner and our wedding (which we are paying for ourselves). The glossy coating of All The Pretty Things has been scrubbed away with a Brillo pad of uncertainty. Excitement over big contracts and having “a wedding planner” and the Big, Big Beautiful Things now seem far-off and meaningless.
What I think I am getting to here, you guys, is that I have a massive, undeniable, raging ego.
The other day we went by our favorite little coffee shop in our pretty little affluent side of town. I threw on my expensive coat, because obviously Sunday morning coffee is for impressing everyone else. As we sat to read over the paper and discuss how we can try to pay for yoga through work exchange to offset the painful monthly cost, I glanced over at a pretty blonde standing in line.
Her ring nearly knocked me off my seat. It glinted and burned my retina. Her left arm looked like it was going to fall off. I chuckled to myself as I commented that she could be a neanderthal with that thing. I paused and looked at my own ring. Small, unique. By design it had a rare and expensive stone wrapped into the center just so that no one else would know that my ring cost as much as your ring. This elegant design that captured as much about us as we could cram into one little artifact. Of course I had wanted a smaller ring. Hadn’t I?
When I looked back up, it all came crashing down.
I had been comparing myself. To everybody. Somehow in the middle of it all, I had lost sight of everything. I was walking around all day lying to everyone, claiming that I did not care about the Pretty Things and that this was about us and our marriage. I was allowed to say I did not care, because I could afford these things and chose not to have them. I could afford a more subtle ring and I could afford the radical designer gown and the destination wedding and the big, expensive vacation house. So I got to look down my nose at everyone that wanted The Pretty Things and strove to get them. And, this really is painful to admit, I could look down my nose at everyone that *gulp* could not have them.
And now all of those comparisons are gone. All that is left is reality. All that is left is the love and support that my partner and friends will provide as I shift my income, lifestyle, and expectations downward. All that is left is caring not about a gown, but a dress that makes me feel beautiful and breezy (because we’re still getting married on the beach dammit!) and married.
And what can I afford? Well, I could afford to get married to the most patient and loving and supportive man I have ever known. I could afford to really not ever give a shit about another diamond or another dress or who made it or what it will look like to anyone else. I can afford to spend the next twelve months until the wedding creating a vision of a wife and a leader and a guardian for my baby family.
And I can afford to apologize for letting my ego stand squarely in the way of everything that life can be.
Photo: Gabriel Harber