This afternoon, we had about an hour to kill before we had to get Torrey from school, so Doug, Michelle, and I went to the mall.
It was a beautiful, not-quite-fall day out, the sun was warm and the shade was cold, and we meandered from store to store, window-shopping, and occasionally, window-shopping inside the stores as well. We each picked our favorite rings from jewelers’ window display cases, looked at dining room tables in an oddly placed furniture shop on the mall’s top floor, and sized up this season’s Nightmare Before Christmas stuff at Hot Topic.
It all felt very been-there-done-that for me, and I hate that feeling.
It’s one of the main things I struggle with at weddings as well, the feeling that I’ve done this all before, and the knowledge that I will one day have to do it all again. I feel like my first marriage has tainted my experience, so that I’m not as excited as I should be about the prospect of ring shopping, furniture shopping, or choosing a first dance song.
Sometimes, when it comes to weddings and happily-ever-after dreams, I feel like the boy who cried wolf.
I think about my own wedding – the one that hasn’t happened yet – and I worry if that’s how other people will see me. Will my family and friends be happy for me? Will they even want to come, or will they attend begrudgingly, their experience also tainted by the fact that they’ve seen me do this once already? Is it fair to ask my dad to give me away again, when he’s done it once before? When I got divorced, did I get defaulted back to Dad? Or did I become my own “property,” free-floating and independent, so that next time, I’ll have to walk down the aisle alone?
I told Doug from the beginning that I didn’t want another wedding for this exact reason. But he hasn’t been there or done that, and neither has his family, and it’s unfair of me to ask him to give up all his fantasies (I guess men have them too) because I’m ashamed of my past. And for the most part, I’ve been able to separate the two weddings by saying that the second one will be the opposite of the first in many significant ways.
But the basics are the same: even if next ring looks nothing like my first ring, there will still be some sort of proposal; even if the venue and the readings and the wedding party are all different, there will still be a ceremony; even if everything is small and simple instead of lavish and extravagant, I still have to ask my mom to help me plan another wedding, my dad to make another speech.
Having a kid would’ve given me such an easy out.
If I’d been pregnant and we’d had a shotgun wedding, or even if we’d waited a few years after the kid was born, the marriage could have been explained away as “for the sake of the child.” The focus would’ve been on us for that one day, sure, but I don’t think anyone would’ve wondered what I worry they’ll secretly all be wondering if I have another wedding sans child: “What makes her think she has the right to do this again?”
With three years down and two to go until the time I predicted I’d be “ready” for another wedding, I am decidedly not. My thoughts on the subject have not changed. There are moments when we can talk about what our wedding will be like, fantasize about how we’ll decorate our house, delight in the realization that we have similar tastes in jewelry, but then the mean little voice calls out from my subconscious:
“What are you so excited about?” she sneers. “We already did all this – picked rings, picked dresses, picked furniture – and you fucked it up. No one trusts you with one of these now, so what’s the point?”
Even if we do do everything differently, even if I do believe that this relationship is different from that relationship, this man is different from that man, and I am different now than I was nearly half a decade ago, it’s unfair to Doug that I have these fears and reservations about what should be a day of pure joy for us as a couple. And it’s unfair to me. My life, regardless of what’s happened in it up till now, is worth enjoying and worth being excited for. Which is why I’ve gotta find a way to exorcise these demons.