Confession: I've been working on this blog post for about two weeks now. I finished the book a while back, but just haven't found the time and the words to describe how good it is and why and what. You get the idea. Brace yourself for a lengthy post.
I've been feeling less like my normal self since the holidays. I'm not sure if it's because of the awful weather we've been having or I've simply allowed myself to become overwhelmed. I'm not sure, but what I can tell you is that I've begun the necessary grieving process. More on that later.
I first heard of the book The Conscious Bride at the Unabridged Bride workshop. Encouraged by Liza Hippler of Maiden to Married, I checked this book out at the library a few weeks ago and I am so glad that I did!
You can also check out the author's website Conscious Weddings; there are a lot of good articles there as well as recommended reading and excerpts from The Conscious Bride's Wedding Planner (which I now own.)
Just a few days after starting to read this book, I found myself completely immersed in it, thinking about it and longing for the next time I could pick it up. Every bride should read this book. It has helped to refocus how I am viewing and experiencing our engagement journey.
We'll just start in the beginning ... a life-time commitment is scary, right? I was the girl who told people that I would never get married or have kids. Looking back, it was clearly a defense mechanism to shield me from getting too hurt when I went through guys like blue jeans just trying to find one that fit. Or, maybe because I was from a small town and that's just "what people do" that I continued fighting it through my early twenties.
Regardless, it's a leap that is both exciting and scary. The book talks about the reality of the emotional roller-coaster that being engaged and then married puts you through. People expect you to just glow and gush, but I didn't feel that way everyday. The fact is, I was freaked out for the first few weeks of our engagement. People kept asking me about it and I had to fake my excitement because that's what they expect, right?
Like many brides, I was denying myself feelings of anxiety and grief. I felt bad. I wondered if I was doing the right thing. Why am I feeling this way?
Because I am going through a transition ... a rite of passage and the death of my former self and former life. Whoa! Say what? Think about it ... what changed for you socially, habitually, spiritually or emotionally after you became involved in your relationship? How did you feel after the proposal?
Separation has never been my strong suit. I hate losing touch with friends, even the ones who probably weren't all that good for me, but since becoming engaged, I've held my close friends closer and disengaged from other relationships I used to invest a great deal of time in. I've found that I enjoy visiting my family more now than ever ... and I believe it is because I now recognize the separation that must take place in order to commit my life to Big Spoon.
The book doesn't encourage you to drop everyone and become isolated for your future husband. What it does do is explain that these feelings are normal and that although separating from your past self is necessary, everyone you love and the good parts of you come along too.
Being 27 and having lived on my own for quite some time, the separation with family is not as difficult as separating with my single-self. My identity is changing. No really. I'm changing my last name, are you? That is the most concrete incorporation of your new self, but there are so many other subtle ways in which one changes.
Grieving your former self is important and I believe that it is why I've been so blue lately. I finally gave myself permission to grieve, to slow down and to think. I've been moody and probably hard to live with, but letting go of 27 years takes some work. I'm happy to do it. I'm more excited about the next 27 years than I have been about anything in my entire life!
I'll bring this entry to a close and just say this: being aware that some negative feelings are natural and not feeling guilty or confused is a big step toward sanity. Being conscious of the fact that all this planning will end in your marriage to your spouse and remembering that this journey - from engagement to wife - is a rite of passage. Cherish it, slow down and make an attempt to remember everything you can about it. Don't neglect your relationship for a wedding, but rather cultivate your relationship for your marriage as you plan for the big day.