Today, is our 13th wedding anniversary. I was reminiscing this morning, and thinking about my wedding day, what I was feeling that day, the nervous excitement, the anxiety, all of it. I was also thinking about how my marriage ended up looking completely different than anything I had imagined. For me, marriage has been a lesson in so many things. I'm by no means a marriage expert here, most days I don't even think I'm very good at it, but I'd still like to share my experience with all of you, simply because it's the real, not sugar-coated, truth.
Look at us, we were just babies!
This was the day of my bridal shower, I was only 22 years old. Let me tell you something about 22 year old me, I had NO IDEA who I was going to become. Heck, I still feel like a work in progress.
Sometimes, the thought of picking one person, with whom you'll spend the rest of your life, just feels completely absurd to me. Think about it. How do you know they're going to be awesome forever? How do you know they're not going to develop some insanely annoying habit that will drive you bonkers? How do you know that they wont start to snore so loud, that you think about smothering them with a pillow when you're dead tired, and you have a 5 A.M. flight to catch? **definitely not based on actual events
The answer is, you don't. You don't know any of these things. You just find a person who feels right and you take this leap. I remember being a bride, and thinking about how lucky I was to have found such a remarkable man, with so many good qualities. I also remember thinking that I had done a STELLAR job of picking him, because I had a list of logical reasons that made him perfect for me, and I had that can't-quite-explain-it-but-you-just-know-it-in-your-gut feeling that he was the "one."
So, we got married. And I had it all planned out...
I quit my job immediately to go back to school, and I started classes two days after our honeymoon. I wasn't messing around, we had a schedule. We were going to get pregnant the following year, so I could keep going to school part time and be home with the baby. I'd study during naps- it was brilliant. We'd stay in our condo a few years to save money, until we needed a proper yard and school district. By then, I'd be done with school, and be ready to join the full-time workforce when our kid started school.
I'm sure most of you are chuckling to yourself right now, but 22 year old me really thought I had it all figured out. SPOILER ALERT; none of that happened.
Here's what really happened:
College is expensive, and it's really hard to live on one income, so I had to get a part time job. When we weren't able to conceive, we started down the rabbit hole of infertility treatments, that proceeded to dominate almost three full years of our lives. If you think college is expensive, chat with someone going through infertility... We struggled financially, a lot. Added to this was having to bail multiple family members out of things, when we were barely making it ourselves. We ate a lot of pizza rolls and Costco hot dogs.
All of this stress, multiplied by all the the infertility meds, sent me into a really deep depression. I was so angry. I was angry that none of my plans went how they were supposed to go, I was angry at my body for not working, and I was so unhappy that I started to question everything. My husband was distant, because he didn't know how to help, and I felt so alone. I thought that I had married the wrong person, and that my unhappiness was all his fault. I stopped making school a priority, and I was doing the bare minimum to get by in life. I was basically just giving up on everything.
Side note: Infertility meds are NO JOKE. They make you crazy, except, you know that you're being crazy and irrational, but you just don't care. It feels like, what I imagine it would feel like to be possessed. You're "there," but you're not in control of any of your actions. Horrible things fly out of your mouth, and you do things completely out of character. Everyone is afraid of you, and they just give you what you want, like it's a sacrifice to the fertility gods. That's how I got my mailman husband, who is afraid of dogs, to agree to adopting this adorable nugget. So, not ALL bad I guess ;)
Then something happened. One of my favorite professors, for whom I had tremendous respect, stopped me in the hallway one day, and basically said, "WTF is going on with you?" It was one of those moments where you don't realize it's significance until later, but something in me lit up. WTF was wrong with me, and why was I doing this to myself? It was the jolt I needed to start looking at everything differently.
That conversation set me on a journey of reflection and self discovery that I had never expected, but for which I am immensely grateful. I realized that much of my unhappiness was my own doing. I was assigning hurt where there didn't need to be any, and I was blaming everyone and everything else. I needed to take responsibility for my part in everything. I took a good, long look at my marriage, and I realized that I had been so caught up in my "plan," that I didn't even recognize my husband anymore. I was living a life that I wasn't expecting to live, and I needed to accept that it was never going to look how I had planned.
What came next, were lots of long, heart-to-heart talks, about what we each wanted, and what we were feeling. We decided to stop pursuing any infertility interventions, which oddly, felt like a huge weight had been lifted from me. I don't want to downplay the disappointment I felt over this, which I'm still recovering from today, but taking that off the table, allowed me the space to fall in love with my life the way that it was, not the way I wish it had been.
We got to know each other again, and what I found was, I had this amazing support system right here the whole time, that I had been too self-centered to see. I felt grateful, so grateful, that he was still here, and that I hadn't chased him off with any of my crazy shenanigans.
I was done with school and jobs were scarce in 2010, so that's when Amy and I decided to open Bombshell. I was SO EXCITED, but I couldn't do it alone, and the way that Rob held my hand through every step of that journey, was beautiful. Being an entrepreneur is NOT easy, especially in the beginning, and it takes up so much of your time. I honestly don't know if I could have done it without having such a supportive partner.
After Bombshell had been open a couple years, and we had settled in to this new, amazing life that we'd built, we decided to do a vow renewal to recognize all that we had gone through, and all the awesome things to come. It was a truly magical day! Unlike our wedding day, when we were pulled in hundreds of directions, this day was just about us. We took in every moment, and that day marked a new beginning of sorts for us.
In the years since, we've had our share of ups and downs, that's just how life goes. We've fallen in and out of love with each other several times over. We've had money, and we've been broke. We've gone entire weeks without speaking, and we've shared some of the sweetest days. We've worked so much that we pass out from exhaustion the second we get home, and we've spent entire days just watching movies on the couch. It's beautiful, truly beautiful, because it's real. No other woman would put up with his quirks, and no other man would put up with my pretending not to know how to do laundry. Our marriage works, because we've intentionally designed it that way. We give each other the space to be who we are, and we come together to support each other's dreams. It does't look how I expected, but that's okay. We've built a beautiful life, that is more amazing than I ever could have imagined.
So, here's my wish for every one of you reading this: Know that it's okay to be right where you are, wherever that may be, and don't get so caught up in your plan, that you miss what's right in front of you. This isn't even necessarily marriage advice, but it applies to that too. Life will throw some disappointments your way, but it will throw some amazing opportunities your way too, and sometimes, the sour makes the good stuff that much sweeter.
This is us today, at dinner celebrating 13 years of marriage. I'm wearing yesterday's dress because it's *technically* still clean, and Rob is trying to grow a ridiculous handlebar mustache. This is our real, crazy, quirky, life. It's not perfect, but it's ours.