Thursday, April 2, 2015

It's For Real

It's true, it's 100% for reals. We're going to be parents. CRAZY right?
At this point in time, I'm 12 weeks along and wrapping up my first trimester. I'm anxious, excited, nervous, over the moon, and overwhelmed. It seems like it hasn't quite set in for Alan yet, and I imagine it would be difficult since he's not the one carrying it around all day every day. And some days it's easy to forget I am, though the bigger I get the harder it is to ignore.

And the road that got me here is long, and weird, and painful, but also full of joy and discovery. I've wanted, for years and years now, to be a mom, and one of the hardest things about my divorce was realizing that this goal was going to be put off again as I started the search for a mate all over again. I wanted everything to be right and I didn't want to rush anything, and these days I'm even more grateful than ever that I don't share parenting with X. Besides how rough divorce can be on kids in the first place, I'm pretty sure both of us would have held on much longer than we should of because of a kid. And after the fact I don't think he would have been a great co-parent, seeing as just being together he regularly tried to undermine me, why wouldn't he do the same with a kid? 
Obviously this is all speculation.

But here I am! Fat, sassy, and happy. Alan's been amazing and supportive, he's taken me to doctors and the ER when I get freaked out, and he's been my partner in all the decisions we've been making about how to handle all of this. We're evaluating our options, having discussions, he's doing his research too. I feel like I have a true partner, a true co-parent. I've never felt closer to him than I do now.

Time to get baby-proofing around here, I guess!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Divorce, Marriage, and Depression

I guess it's no big surprise that depression is on the minds of a lot of people right now, myself included. It's incredibly hard to see someone we all perceived as being so happy succumb to an illness like depression. I find it much the same to when we see someone we perceived as so healthy succumb to something like cancer. We just can't believe this would happen to someone like that.
But the truth of the matter is, illness doesn't discriminate. It doesn't care who you are, how much money you have, how great your life is or isn't. Illness comes in so many forms, and societally we are still learning how to address and talk about mental illness, but at the end of the day, it's the result of a chemical imbalance in our brains. Some people have other chemical imbalances. Like diabetes. And we find ways to balance these chemicals through pharmaceutical methods. The same thing happens with mental illness, but for some reason we still have a hard time believing that it's an illness and not just someone who can't "suck it up" or someone who just "isn't trying." I've seen every bad answer to mental illness from "you need Jesus" or "what do you have to be depressed about?" or even "Just cheer up already" or "Stop worrying and just do it." It's one thing if no one in the situation has realized mental illness is involved, but quite another if the person tells you they suffer from a mental illness and you think that you, with your obvious PhD in psychology (oh wait?) have the expertise to tell someone how to get better.

So what does this have to do with divorce and marriage?
Everything.

X refused to accept any of my mental illness as an illness. To be honest, I'm not sure I really had yet either, and not all of this is on him, by any means. But if I was unconsolable, if I was down, if I was low, all he ever did was tell me how stupid I was being. He never tried to make me feel better or even see if there was a reason I felt down, he just didn't care to know. This isn't terribly surprising given some of the things from his background and life experiences, but it certainly didn't help me be a better wife to him. If I was being honest with myself (which I was failing to do in a lot of aspects in my relationship with him, this isn't the only time), I would have seen that I needed to seek medical attention. That I needed to address this with a professional. I had no shame about therapy, my ADD treatment as a child had often included seeing a psychologist to make sure my emotional needs were being met as well as my medical. I had even sought counseling after a heinous break up at the end of my senior year of high school when I was spiraling down in ways that I knew even then a break up shouldn't do to me. But for some reason, it just didn't occur to me that this was the problem. I honestly couldn't figure out what the problem was, and maybe that's the most insidious part of mental illness. Especially if a lot of the things in your life don't feel quite right, it's easy to forget or ignore that mental illness might be playing a larger role in that and just figure it's the overarching idea of "stress."
So I suffered, mostly alone. As I've mentioned, I had a difficult time making close friendships while I lived in Cincinnati. I had a handful, but none that I was ever as close to those I had back home. And the ones back home didn't seem to see anything wrong, or if they did, they didn't think it was their place to say. So I continued on, not understanding what was wrong. And again, lots of things were wrong. Mental illness was only one of them. But the thing is, while I have come to believe that my split with X was inevitable, it might have been delayed or less nasty if my mental illness hadn't kept me from being a better partner. X's problems with me could often be tied back to some symptom of my depression. Mood swings, freak outs, refusal to go out without X with me, irrational fears or letting past things influence our current situation. It's hard to say if my constant fear of him leaving me was a result of a previous break up we had or justified since he did leave me, or if my paranoia was a factor in his choice to leave. Either way, it certainly didn't make for a happy marriage. And it certainly made for an incredibly traumatizing divorce, I imagine for both of us. I can't say for sure, since he & I haven't spoken in years and years, but I can imagine the process damaged him, probably in different ways from me, but still damaged him.
I'm no psychologist, but I'm willing to bet he suffers from some mental illness as well. I don't know which one, I wouldn't even deign to pretend to have an idea of what goes on in there. What I will say is that when he left me, when I confronted him upon returning from Seattle in our shitty two bedroom apartment that we both clearly hated, was that he had essentially been pretending to be someone else with me for the entire three years we'd been together. Because the image he projected to me, the person I thought I had married, wasn't the kind of person would be so callous and hurtful like he was being to me in the end. And when I addressed this, he simply shrugged at me. He was quick to jump into not giving a damn what happened to me, as long as he got what he wanted.

So two mentally ill people, unchecked, in a marriage, refusing to help the other. This pretty much seems like a formula for divorce.

But here's the flip side.
Alan has anxiety. Not just run of the mill anxiety, but a true anxiety disorder. When we began dating, I remember he mentioned in passing that it ran in his family, and someday he might need to be on medication for it. At the time, I honestly had very little idea of what an anxiety disorder meant. It turns out I had several friends and even a family member who suffered from it, but for some reason I'd never really thought about it much. Depression was something I understood, even some other forms of mood disorders and things like ADD/ADHD. But I just couldn't wrap my head around the idea of anxiety so high it prevented you from doing things, especially things you might enjoy.
And for a while, I didn't see Alan's anxiety at all. I didn't see its impact on our relationship until we'd been together almost a full two years. And then I remembered what he had told me in the beginning, and it all clicked in my head. I came home from work that night and had a tearful conversation with him about how unhappy I was despite how awesome I thought everything should be. He was wonderful, kind, and supportive, he gave me free reign to be myself and to run my life the way I wanted to, he wanted the same things out of life that I did, he loved doing the same things as me, and he loved the things I introduced him to. And yet there were problems I just couldn't figure out why he couldn't overcome. We'd had endless conversations about these things, and still nothing had changed.
So I asked him to seek help for his anxiety. I asked him to seek counseling, and if necessary, medication. It was a long, bumpy road we started on, but he's come a long way since then.
And not only that, getting help for himself emboldened Alan to urge me to seek help for my depression when it sought to overwhelm me and drag me under during my first year of grad school. He's seen depression in me for most of our relationship, and he's respected me when I told him it was so low grade, I could handle when it reared it's head, it was just so infrequent. But when he saw me in danger, he reached out, held me, and said "Maybe it's time you get help." I nodded slowly, I did some research about what my possible diagnosis was, and suddenly just having that possibility made my load seem so much lighter. I began seeing a therapist this summer, who has been giving me tasks to slowly get my life in order and give me coping skills. And while medication isn't in the conversation yet, we've agreed that it's not off the table.
Sometimes diet and exercise corrections are enough to fix an illness or physical malady. This can be the case for mental illness as well. But sometimes it's not, and there's no shame in that. There's no shame in taking chemo treatment when you need it, there's no shame in going to physical therapy after an athletic injury, and there's no shame in seeking therapy or medication for mental illness.

Alan & I recently hit a new point in deepening our bond, one that I think should have happened a long time ago, but thanks to a combination of both our mental illnesses, I believe we just had to work around the long way. But we made it here all the same. We worked together, and we trusted each other. We opened up and have never felt closer before. Just in time for our first wedding anniversary. And I know this is what marriage is truly about. No one marriage is better than another. Each marriage must be on its own schedule, and the people taking part in that marriage must come to an agreement about what that means. For Alan & me, this means being patient and trying our best to understand that we are on no one's clock but our own. We can make decisions that are best for us, and while we can seek outside advice, we must ultimately come together and come to understand each other. We don't have to be perfect, nor do we have to be the envy of others. We have to be happy with one another and the life we are creating.





As an added, sad note, yes, a lot of this post was inspired by Robin Williams' recent death. He created so many good memories for millions upon millions of people, and will likely continue to do so long after his death. One of my all time favorite memories as a child was watching Aladdin over and over again with my brothers. In the Genie's song, there is some line about Aladdin being a "big nabob." We never really understood what that meant, and I'm not sure I'm totally clear on it now, besides being another word for a big wig/important person. But for some reason, my brothers and I thought this word was hilarious. We even drew out pictures of what a "big nay bob" must look like, and giggled endlessly while my dad just rolled his eyes and laughed at us. We loved that movie for so many reasons, but a large part of it was the Genie. And Robin Williams had so many other roles that have been touching and pivotal at other points of my life. As I'm sure for many others. It's strange. Celebrity deaths don't usually affect me in such a way, but this one really did. Maybe because I loved his work so much and because I feel so much empathy for someone truly suffering from depression.
Thanks for all the laughs, sobs, and other feels, Mr. Williams. I hope wherever you end up in the afterlife is right where you need to be.

Friday, April 18, 2014

SO PSYCHED ABOUT THIS!

Alan & I have been featured on the blog Offbeat Bride, click the link to see more!

Offbeat Bride Post!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

I don't ask for much, just a little respect.

While this isn't exactly about marriage, it is about relationships. While I am inspired to write on this topic by a platonic relationship, it relates directly to any, romantic, familial, professional. Whatever.

When discussing this issue with a friend, I was told that I am easy to offend.
I think people have the wrong idea about what offensive means and what it means when I am offended versus mildly irritated. I also think people should, perhaps, reevaluate their idea of what is permissible to say to others, especially those we love and care about, consider our friends, etc.

I'll begin with the issue in question. Alan & I want children. This is nothing new, no huge revelation. If you follow this blog or have met us, you know we are psyched about having kids someday. We have to wait a little longer, but it won't be too long before that's a part of our relationship. And I have always wanted kids, as long as I can remember.
I also have lots of friends and acquaintances who have chosen to be child-free. Which is equally awesome and cool. And I roll my eyes every time I overhear someone telling someone else who mentions they don't want kids, "Oh you'll change your mind," or "When you meet the right man/woman," or any other number of patronizing and condescending things about knowing what a person wants better than the person themselves. Who the fuck are you to tell them what they do and don't want?? And even if they DO change their mind, they don't need your smug ass saying "I told you so." (Mini-rant forthcoming!) I am ALL about people who choose to be child-free. I think it's pretty cool and at this point, I kind of think it's what the world needs. We are running rampant over this world, we're running out of room. And some people are having 4 or more kids. And while that's their choice too, due to modern medicine, the population cannot sustain this forever. So kudos to those of you choosing not to have kids, I applaud you! Not only are you doing what is best for you, but it's benefiting the whole world too! FUCK YEAH. This world needs diversity, INCLUDING those who choose not to reproduce. We all play a part. FUCK FREAKIN YEAH!
But you know what I don't like? When those of us who do want kids happen to bring it up, or even when someone else brings it up, when a child-free person feels the need to say things like "Ugh, I hate kids," or "Ew" or "Kids are so awful," or any other number of things relating to how much they dislike kids or how gross babies are etc etc. I once witnessed this happen while children were present. Seriously. This also applies to marriage (see "Don't Ever Get Married"), people who don't believe they ever want to get married (or were burned by a bad marriage in the past) always end up telling engaged couples (or even seriously dating couples) how terrible marriage is.
Why the fuck is that ok?
Why is it cool for you to look down on and insult the choices of those who want children? Especially in my case, I do everything I can to make it clear that whatever life choices you make, whether I agree with them or not (as long as they aren't harmful to yourself and others), I support your decision. The world is full of difference and beauty in all its facets. All the differences make it better. I value all walks we can take, even if it's not the one I would take. We can't all take the same road, or we'd be traffic jammed and bored.

Which is where respect comes in. I don't believe that I'm easy to offend. I do think, perhaps, I am easy to disappoint. Because I guess my irritation at being disappointed in someone comes off as being offended. There are some real easy ways to offend me, but they're pretty limited. Willful ignorance, intolerance and hate are the easiest ways to offend me. I suppose I have high expectations of people. I truly believe the best in people. And when they fail to meet those expectations, I get irritated. Because it's not hard to be a good person. It's not hard to take a step back once in a while and look at yourself in the mirror to admit your shortcomings. I make it a habit to evaluate myself and my actions on a regular basis to try and learn from my shortcomings and avoid making the same mistakes in the past. This blog was actually a part of that process for a long time. Still is occasionally (I only say that for the low frequency of posts nowadays). I truly believe in all people's capabilities to be better versions of themselves. It's completely within your grasp to do it. So when I make a criticism of your behavior or something you said, it's not because I'm trying to tell you how much you suck, or trying to prove how much better I am than you. I'm offering you a chance to see something you might not be able to see. When my best friend of 15 years chose to stop talking to me last summer, and when her fiance then chose to send me a scathing email about what a piece of shit I am, I took a long time to read, reread, and evaluate the messages I got from both of them. I looked at myself hard in the mirror. And I cried a lot. I wondered why someone I love so much could do that to me, and then, between crying spells, I evaluated what truth could be taken from what was said. The content of these messages aren't relevant. And how much I did or didn't take as truth from them is irrelevant also. But I assure you I did take some of it to heart and attempted to keep them in mind or make some changes accordingly.
We all believe ourselves to be better than other people. "I'm a better person because I'm a Christian," or "I'm a better person because I don't eat meat," or "I have never killed someone," or "I donate money to charity," or whatever other reasons we can come up with to justify why our shortcomings don't make us bad people while our triumphs make us better. It's self preservation, and we all do it.

But what bothers me the most is when people absolutely refuse to see it another way. Or refuse to take into account that other people have feelings too. That what you say DOES matter. Not every joke is acceptable because "I was just kidding." I'm a communication scholar (SCARY RIGHT???), so no one knows better than me and my fellow scholars how much of an impact the jokes we make and words we choose make. Saying "no offense" doesn't suddenly erase the offensive portion of what you just said. Claiming "I was just kidding," doesn't change the fact that what you said was hurtful. And I swear FOR GODS if you tell me I'm being too sensitive, I will show you what being "too sensitive" feels like (with a frying pan and your skull*). I don't even actually care if you change your opinion on the matter at hand. What I do care about is that you try to take into account that your feelings aren't the only ones at play here.

I don't know if I've talked about this on this blog before, but I say it a lot in general. I don't think everyone has to agree, or act the same or believe the same things. But I do know, for a fact, that life in this world would be a lot better if everyone was accountable for their actions. If you say something that hurts my feelings (which is what offending someone is, make no mistake), apologize. If your intention was not to hurt someone else, then an apology is appropriate. Not jumping all over the person and telling them to stop being so sensitive. Not telling them it's somehow their fault that YOUR joke (which you, as a fully functioning adult CHOSE to make) hurt them. I've written before about how easy it is to hurt those we love and say things that are written in ink, how they never truly disappear. And how if you don't actually care that your words hurt that person, you don't actually care about that person. Let that sink in for a while.
If your friend tells you that your words hurt them, and you say "Stop being so sensitive," or other words that say it doesn't matter that your friend is hurt, what you are actually telling them is "I don't care about your feelings."

Seriously. Reflect on that. Reflect really fucking hard. And THEN think about a time you were in their position and how you felt when someone told YOU to not be offended. Or try to imagine what it must feel like to tell someone that a wound hurts, and the doctor tells you to stop whining. That doctor just told you that your pain doesn't matter. Just suck on that morsel for a while.

I'm not easily offended. I'm easily disappointed. And I'm not going to change my standards. I believe people can be better than they are. And I will continue to hold that standard. And if you continue to be my friend, you must understand that I will love you no matter what you do, but I won't change my expectations.

They may be high, but they aren't unrealistic.




*I don't endorse violence. But this is actually an accurate metaphor, so I'm gonna keep it. If you're wondering, the metaphor would be me wildly swinging a frying pan around because I think it's funny, you getting hit in the head because you happened to be in the room, telling me you're hurt, and me telling you to stop being so sensitive, it was just for fun.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Beginning

Four years ago I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

About 2 months prior, after my friend Katherine suggested it, I had begun to use OkCupid to meet people. I had decided I actively wanted to seek dates and see how it worked. I'd never tried online dating, but here's the thing, I had a bad habit.
Out of all my guy friends, I've dated most of them. I don't know if this is actually "bad," but it certainly has the possibility of making things awkward. Luckily for me, most of my friends have been really cool about it and have maintained a friendship with me with little to no ill effect. Because, I suppose, I believe a good friendship is the best basis for a good relationship, male friends would often become attractive to me and/or would continue to be attractive as friends after a relationship didn't work out.
But, there is (as always) a cost to this. Not only does this run the well dry, so to speak, it also had the negative effect that having dated (and not been successful) with those guys and being somewhat infamous around here, word had spread about me since I was 17. There are still people who believe I am the ridiculous spaz I was when I was a kid. I'm 28. It's been over 10 years.... let's move on, shall we? So sometimes, when I would meet someone new, it was always because they were a friend of someone else.... and had heard about me from them. And possibly even heard about my divorce. That doesn't mean they all thought poorly of me, or even acted negatively about that information... but that information is still there. I was tired of meeting people who thought they had some idea of who I am. (Nowadays, it's amusing to do so, because I can either act like I meet their expectations, or completely confuse them. But that's irrelevant here.) When it comes to dating, you don't want all those notions. Since I'm not really into the bar scene, and school meant most of the guys were significantly younger than me, I decided the best way to meet people who hadn't heard of me or had preconceived ideas about me was through the internet.

If you're not familiar with OKC, I'll give you a quick description of how it works (and a high recommendation because the whole thing makes a lot more logical sense than other sites). There's lots of ways to meet people, but the biggest ones are just setting up search parameters and browsing, or using "quick match." What I liked the best about OKC is that it's free. Seriously. They have a paid option, but all it really does is remove ads. Otherwise, it's fully functioning. You can do a few things to help your profile be searched by potential friends and mates. You can answer a virtually endless supply of questions, many of which are user generated (reviewed to keep from being repetitive). These run the gamut of serious to silly, from asking how you feel about controversial issues like gay marriage and abortion, to asking you "WHAT is your quest?" (The correct answer is obviously "To seek the Holy Grail!") But even more important about these questions is that OKC follows each question with two more. First, what answer would your ideal mate give, and second, how important is this question to you? When talking about nerdy things or political issues I strongly believe in, I'd say it's high in importance that their answer match mine. But someone else might not care about politics. See how much sense that makes? These questions then make percentages that you see when viewing other profiles. Romantic match, friends match, and enemy match. I usually aimed to keep my romantic matches over 85%. And you can set up your search parameters to include that. You also can take quizzes to see how others match up to your results, and a few other tools create search parameters to browse. You can read their whole profile, check their interests, pictures, "stats" (things like if they're a cat or dog person, if they smoke, use drugs, drink, have a job, etc), and if you so choose, send em a message and see if it fruits anything. The other way to meet people is called Quick Match. You click on the option, and it gives you the abbreviated version of their profile, your percentage match, and their primary profile picture, and you give them a quick rating on a 5 star scale. If you rate someone a 4 or higher, they get a notification that someone has done so. But they aren't told who. They simply have to do the same thing and the profile who rated them high will be somewhere in the first few profiles they view. If you BOTH rate each other a 4 or higher, you'll both get a notification and are encouraged to speak to one another.

The second is how Alan & I got matched. I rated him first, he was exactly my type. Scrawny, ginger, geeky and cute, and then he picked me out of the random sampling to rate high as well. And then HE messaged me. Though his confidence was lacking because he opened with "So it seems we both rated each other high, and that doesn't happen to me very often, I figured I should say hi."
Awwwwww. <3
My favorite thing on his profile was the portion marked "The first thing people usually notice about me is: That I'm really tall, I'm 6'4"! :D" I like me some tall dudes. I'm kind of tall myself, I don't like towering over guys.

But getting him to actually come out and meet me was quite an exercise. We probably spoke online for 3-4 weeks before our first date. I kept urging him to come and meet me out at Denny's or some other innocuous public place. He kept waving it off saying it takes him a while to meet people in person from the internet. I shrugged it off. I had a few other dates as well in this time period, so I wasn't worried, but I did want to meet this guy.

Finally, the final week of the year, both of us had plans fall through for NYE, and this was finally enough time (and fb stalking) for Alan to meet me. He suggested I come to his place to watch movies.
I know, I know, go to some stranger's house alone, I'm dumb.
But I felt pretty confident that I could handle myself if something happened. I'm pretty good at telling when a situation is going poorly.
And the day finally came around. I had some running around to do earlier in the day, including stopping in to see my grandpa. My grandmother had died a little over a month before, and we were all trying to make an effort to check in on him and chat, it kept his spirits up. So I stopped in to see him. My grandpa is really old fashioned and is a huge worrier. When X left me, mom made me tell him myself and this resulted in a 30 minute phone call in which he asked me over and over why I wasn't trying harder to change his mind, why was I getting divorced (even though I tried to tell him X left me, it wasn't my choice), and moaning about all his children who've been divorced, and now his grandchild. Frustrating, but I try to remember it's because he loves me and wants me to be happy. But as I sat speaking to him about how he & grandma used to spend NYE, he asked me if I had any plans. I told him I had a date that evening.

He was quiet for a moment, and then asked me, "How do you know he's the one?"

The divorce had only happened earlier this same year. It was still pretty recent. I had to stop myself from being really offended and just snapped back with "I don't, that's why I'm going on a date. I haven't even met the guy."

He didn't really say much about it after that. We spoke about other things, and then I left. I went home, got ready, and then drove over to Alan's apartment. Which turned out to be 5-10 minutes down the road. Practically around the corner.
Go figure.
I called him when I pulled into the parking lot of his apartment complex to find which building was his and where I should park. I was shocked by how deep his voice was, since his pictures just gave me the impression of the scrawny kind of dweeb. I almost thought I'd dialed the wrong number, but seeing as we'd been texting for a week, I knew it wasn't wrong. We hadn't spoke yet, though, so his voice was quite a shock. When I finally got up to his apartment, he was in the middle of playing a level of God of War.
I was working at a video rental place at the time, so once we got past our awkward introductions, and I politely let him finish the level he was on (I understand man!), we decided our plans for the evening would be to go use my free rentals on some movies and games (he had a PS3, which I wasn't super familiar with, but he DID have Rock Band, and gorram if I don't love me some Rock Band!), and make dinner at his place. We picked up Lego Rock Band, a few movies, and headed back. Alan made me a nice alfredo pasta for dinner, we played some games, and sat on his couch and watched movies. Because I wasn't keeping track of the time, we missed when the new year rolled over, because Alan hadn't thought it was a big deal. When I had noticed, I told him happy new year, and he said the same and that was it.
I was totally into this guy, but he seemed so uncomfortable.
And then I realized he was so awkwardly cute. Because he was almost the text book definition of a nerd. Online dating had been his choice because the internet made him comfortable. He kept suggesting another movie for us to watch in order to get me to stay, rather than just telling me. And he wouldn't make a move if I wasn't more obvious. So my first move was to sit closer on the couch and make contact. Once that happened, he relaxed a little bit. Finally, when one movie ended, and he began looking at his collection of dvds to suggest another, I leaned into his line of sight and told him "You can kiss me, you know?" He kind of blinked at me, got a little flushed and said, "Oh!"

That was our first kiss, lol. Adorable. We watched a few more movies, and he started to loosen up and got to talking. We realized we did know a few of the same people, but not enough that he had ever heard about me. BUT enough of those people who did know him I knew I could trust their opinions, and later they all confirmed what a great guy he was. We stayed up until 7 am talking and laughing, and then I headed home. On New Year's Day, Alan met me out for dinner at Red Robin, in a snow storm, before I had to head in to my very first shift at the job I have hated the most (midnight janitor at a movie theatre), and we saw each other every day for nearly the next month.

The first year was a lot of growing pains. It turned out that Alan's struggle with anxiety was more than just his general geeky awkwardness and may have been a factor in him not maintaining any real long-term relationships before me. As I came to understand more and more of his dating hang ups, I taught him that not every problem means we have to break up, that some differences can be solved and worked through. And he learned that there are some issues which I will never change my mind on, and as we dated, he became more vocal about what he believed as well. We grew and challenged each other, and we both learned a lot about what an adult relationship means. I learned when to give space, and Alan learned when to get close. And we have fit together like a puzzle ever since.

I knew I had found something special that New Year's 4 years ago. I didn't know how special yet, but I knew he was important.

Thank you, Alan, for being exactly what I was looking for, and more than I ever thought I deserved. <3

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Wedding Video!

So here it is, our wedding video! I'm so excited to share this with all of you!



Mad props to our videographer, Tyler Clark. I highly recommend him if you're looking for a videographer for ANY function in the NE Ohio area. Love this video SO MUCH.

But not only is this VIDEO awesome, look at the awesome packaging it was delivered to us in!!








Saturday, November 9, 2013

Married Isolation

This blog began as a way to help me deal with the possibility, then reality of getting married a second time. Now that I am married, I imagine more posts are going to deal with being married. I'm sure that the fact that it is my second marriage will be relevant to some posts and irrelevant to others.

This is one where it will be irrelevant. 

So let's talk about marriage. 
It's really funny, with all the pressure there is to get married (check), to have a wedding (especially that it should be a GOOD wedding), to do all the "right" things like buying a house (check), a nice car (check), a college degree (check) or two (in progress), and have kids (future plans), how isolating these things suddenly become. How much they segment us from each other. 

Hilariously, even with this being my second marriage, I am still the only one in my immediate friend circle that is married, and honestly, I'm about the only one even in a long-term relationship. I have some people in the secondary friend ring that are married or in long-term relationships, and perhaps I should reach out more to those people, but that's not exactly my point here. I laugh every time I see people complaining on facebook about how "all my friends are married or have kids." Only a portion of my friends are one or both of those things. And my best friends cannot seem to relate to my position in life at this point. And it's beginning to isolate me, it seems. 

My best friend Katherine told me something beautiful once, that Alan & I are what everyone else strives for. With all the struggle that Alan & I face with each other, I have to admit I think we really do have something unique and special. So when someone else tells me that we are a goal that others reach for, it makes me feel good about us and about what we do for our friends. I hope with a large part of my being that we make a good example of a solid relationship. No partnership, platonic, business, or romantic, is without turbulence and strife, but we work hard to love and respect one another. 

But now it begins to isolate me a bit. I remember bits of this when X and I were married/engaged, and it's coming back now, but sometimes I worry that people think "Oh now that they're married, things are different," and it feels like we're not as relevant as we were even a few months ago before we were married. I don't actually think people are actively excluding us, but sometimes I feel like things have still changed. I can't even totally put my finger on it.

And in the process of trying to make new friends, I feel like my marriage is somehow tainting others' view of me as well. I am in my Master's program now, and I am struggling to make any connections with my fellow classmates. I have made attempts to hang out or go to social functions, but I kind of feel like it hasn't made a difference. They all post to Facebook about cool things they are doing together, and I feel like maybe I'd get invited out once in a while if I was single still. I don't want to be single, but I do desperately want a relationship with the people I'll be sharing classes with for the next two years. I was repeatedly told what good friends I would gain from this experience, and it's not to say there aren't people I really enjoy being around or who haven't been incredibly kind and reached out to me, but I still feel isolated. One of my classmates suggested it was because I am married, while agreeing that it is a stupid reason to not be included. And I know that I can't force friendships, and I cannot make people love or even like me. But seeing as I spend so much time with them, I want to feel like I belong with them.

And with so many new changes around me, not just my personal changes, but some of the changes in my other friends' lives, changes in their relationships with me and with each other, I feel my role in their lives diminishing. I feel unneeded and obtrusive. My concern has begun to feel unwanted, when before it had been so welcomed. It is hard to adjust to being someone else in the eyes of your friends, and I genuinely wonder how much my marriage has to do with that. Or my continued education. Or any other number of factors that are changing around me. But it feels like I am losing my grip these days. I thought I had all this turmoil from May under control, but it keeps rearing its ugly head to remind me. Much like the scar on my leg, I very much doubt it will ever truly abate. A constant reminder of a failure I should have seen coming.

Marriage is an amazing thing. If you ask me how married life is, often I will smile and say great, because it is. Alan proves, now more than ever before, how much he loves me and believes in me. He has really worked hard to try and provide stability in all my flux and emotional breakdowns. I have never believed more in another human being than I do in him, and I have never believed more in a relationship in my life than I do now. But Alan cannot be everything for me. No one can. That is why we form friendships, why we have different friends, different types of friends! Because we have needs in our social lives that no one person can fulfill. Your married friends still need you to be their friend. They still need you to have the same ear to listen and shoulder to laugh and cry on as before! Maybe even more than before. As I am adjusting to so many new things, I need my best friends more than I ever did before. And I want them to continue to come to me for whatever they are dealing with as well. I never feel better than I do when I am helping a friend, by listening, giving advice, or just being there. If I can do that for people, I feel like I can handle anything else. But the sudden lack of need for me is making me feel less than capable I guess. 

I had hoped to make a point out of all this blather, and I hope that you got one from it. I suppose the point is, that no matter what changes your friends' lives are going through, it is likely that it is still important for friends to come around and continue their relationships as before. Change doesn't mean changing friends, it means needing a little extra support from your friends to make that adjustment. So if your friends are going through a change, don't just assume you're not needed anymore, assume you're needed more than ever.