“Well. Hell.” That thought danced around my head regularly for the eight months of my engagement. Six months of indecision, misery, fighting, crying, and panic attacks followed by two months of quick decisions, fighting, ugly cries, guilt, depression, love, and joy.
I don’t regret my wedding. I love my wedding day. I should love it: I fought for it, cherished it, defended it, excused it, explained it, loved it, planned it, and, finally, experienced it. But I’m still resentful. Resentful of how unhappy my husband and I were. How many weeks my husband and his mom went without talking. Resentful of every guilt trip we received and continue to receive. How quickly everyone told us their feelings without asking or listening to ours.
I don’t trust family anymore. I didn’t realize before how manipulative and thoughtless someone you love, that loves you, can be. How cruel someone can act when they think they know what’s best. How bottled up emotions will eventually explode with a cataclysmic shock on the day you’re shopping for your wedding dress. How your memory of finding your wedding dress will always include two hours crying in a corner bakery while the people you’re closest to talk about how your wedding makes them sick. How betrayed my husband and I feel and how unsupported. How guilty I feel now, struggling to forgive.
My mom asked me after the wedding when I felt that “wave of love” that every bride experiences. I still don’t know what she’s talking about. I don’t think she believes me or understands. I didn’t experience a wave of love. I felt loved by individual people, all at different times. But I also caught the looks of annoyance, pity, confusion, and hurt. And I heard, “If only…”
If you look through my wedding photos I look ecstatic in all of them. And I was. Bloody freaking ecstatic. I loved every second of my wedding day; I keep looking through photos reliving the day in my head. Hearing my father-in-law, my dad, and three of my best friends speeches. Belting Broadway songs with my mom. Singing drinking songs with my husband and two of our closest friends. Sniffling with my daddy before the ceremony. Wiping my eyes during the ceremony with my great-grandmother’s handkerchief. Drinking mimosas with my mom, best friend from high school, and best friend from college. It was a wonderful day. One of my best days.
But I can’t remember my wedding day without remembering the eight months before it. I can’t separate them; one made the other. One day I’ll be able to. I’ll come to terms with my engagement and I will forgive. I’ll move on, taking with me the lessons learned. About standing my ground. About showing weakness. About how my new family needs and deserves to be treated. How sometimes hopes get crushed. But most importantly I’ve learned how much love my husband and I have. How there are two of us to protect and support each other. How he’ll hold me when I break down crying yet again. And I’ll support him during a panic attack. How we can be each other’s light in the darkness.
They’re good lessons to have learned. But oh, how I wish I hadn’t had to learn them.