Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Bridezilla and The Change

For the record, I am not engaged, although I should concede that the topic of marriage has entered the peripheral edge of my reality from a number of very interesting and unassuming angles. Oddly enough, there have been no alarm bells ringing on my part. For that matter, no church bells have been gonging, either. Still, I have casually observed the way in which these conversations are taking part in the unlit wings of the latest scene that is playing in this thing otherwise known as my life. In this case, I suppose it is safe to say that it is only a matter of time until these conversations search a bit more seriously for their light. Until then, I'm just sitting back, enjoying my popcorn, and thoroughly enjoying the entertainment.

Also for the record, I have long afforded myself the privilege of existing in what I considered a very "safe place". It was a place where I could sit back, cross my arms over myself and smirk at convention, make snarky comments about patriarchy and sexual slavery in the institution of marriage, and state the claim that I will never be caught dead being walked down "any man's aisle" in a veil and white dress, much less ever take "some man's" name...

It's ironic, really. No, really, it is. I, for one, have always known that my evolving position on the matter of marriage never had anything to do with men whatsoever. I love men. I am the 100% heterosexual, man-loving, feminist who has often found herself very comfortable with male companionship. Admittedly, the idea of "life partnership" has always appealed to me, too, but I always found it necessarily to add that "nothing is ever so certain, and, really, you do the best you can bearing on the certain fact that nothing lasts forever." So, no, this was never about men...

So, it was only recently that it occurred to me that my aversion to the idea of marriage had nothing to do with my stubborn sense of individuality or smug feminist intentions. The argument bears nothing on the fact that I am a free-spirit, or that my life to date is far from the beaten path, if not entirely bohemian by design. Yes, I have recoiled from so-called conventionality because I saw it as something that would stifle my growth at such a tender and (necessarily solitary) time in my life when I have been on such a vibrant and fulfilling path that has always felt right and good for me. I have never worried about my biological clock or about my ability to attract good men in my life. I've looked at relationships as opportunities for growth and learning, and never ends in themselves.

But all of this aside, what my aversion to marriage was about was really about the fact that I was both scared of the idea of permanent promises and secretly accepting of the idea that I simply don't deserve a lace and rose-filled version of happily-ever-after. Without intending to do so, I fell into the cliche of all children of turbulent divorces. I shuddered at the idea of having both of my parents in the same room, let alone in the same place...on all auspicious occassions...on my wedding day. The brutal truth is that I'd rather slit my own wrists than have to endure the feeling that occurs in the pit of my stomach when the two people who taught me how to love in this world spend any time inhabiting the same airspace. (The one and only time that this happened since their divorce was on the day of my college graduation, which was already traumatic in itself. ) Funny how my parent's failures made me buy into the idea that I am somehow congenitally ill-equipped to seek what they sought in the first place.

Of course, all of this brings me to the present moment, and to the full-frontal admission that, for the first time in my life, I actually looked at wedding dresses on-line the other day. That said, I was instantly overwhelmed at the prospect of even planning a wedding, much less a traditional Jewish wedding...but still, I contemplated it.

At the moment, it feels as though I am finally turning the lights off on the first decent portion of my life that has brought me to the present moment. I've done a lot of hard swimming and heavy navigating to get to a higher, drier place that affords me the luxury of anticipating the foreseeable choices that I have front of me, and how these choices will ultimately shape the next portion of my life. At the moment, I'm finding that I am being given the opportunity to actually do the things that I've long dreamed of doing. I'm an activist, a thinker, a leader, and a member of a community that is enacting change. Every day is an opportunity for me to be this change, but still, it's not as easy as it may seem. Bad habits are comfortable and difficult to depart from, and so the habit of thinking that I'm not "good enough" for happiness is a chronic lurker in my network.

Being the change is perhaps not the easiest road, but I already know it to be far more interesting, if not somewhat more rewarding. I have finally gotten myself equipped to be in the habit of breaking bad habits and replacing them with good ones. Now, it is matter of creating new traditions in place of what has (and hasn't) come before. There's always good work to do. At least now I am confident in saying that I won't be doing it all alone.


Anonymous said...

I have known people whose parents were happily married go in and out of separations and divorce. I have also seen the opposite. So nothing is really pre-determined. Maybe this will set your mind somewhat to rest.

On the other hand, have you thought about the fact that marriage is not really a two-way contract between two people, but rather a three-way undertaking between these two lucky people ... and the society they live in?

VJ said...

Sounds all good from here N. Each marriage is it's own invention. You make it and build it together and occupy it as well as you dare & care to. And there's something to be said of the power of 'bad/poor' examples! Cheers & Good Luck, 'VJ'

Laura said...

There is a wedding dress store on my way to and from work each day, lit up inside at all hours so that the white seems to beam forth from inside. It used to switch the trajectory of my thoughts each time I passed it -- from whatever was bouncing around in my head to my wedding planned for sometime next year. Like you seem to envision for yourself, I'll be under a chupa but without the traditions solid under my feet -- a newbie at all sorts of things. Lately, this store serves as a reminder to me of how far away my fiance is and how distant that wedding is and how much I'll still have to weather to get there. I turn my head each time I pass. On the exact opposite side from you, I often thought of being married and now that I am close, my "good enough" thoughts are creeping up. But, yeah, the great part is that we don't have to do it all alone.

Restaurant Gal said...

One could argue I am not the best person to offer a comment on marriage, given my current state of self-imposed separation after multiple decades. However, I will say that as ridiculous and simplistic as it sounds, all previous bad-habit thoughts and fears do fade away when thoughts about marriage are simply and finally those about the right person. You just know when you know. Everything else--the angst of divorced parents being around, etc.--settles down, too. This I really do know. When it is right, when it is so easy and natural, all the rest becomes so, too.