Disappointment is Necessary

I crashed and burned after the wedding, there’s no way around it. I was a whir of energy leading up to that day, emotions all over the place, a near-constant stream of goal-directed activity. It felt fantastic. The celebration itself was fantastic. Being surrounded by so many people I love and who love me …

Now it’s gone. It’s been gone. I didn’t get enough sleep and it left me exhausted. Over a week later, I’m still exhausted. I felt so good; I thought I could build on the energy and do things to improve my life. Clean the apartment, find a job, join a group, get out and socialize more, even just maintain some kind of contact with some of the people who came out to see me. Anything…

I’m too tired to do anything. I’m pouring what energy I do have into The Sims 3. I think it appeals to me because my sims can go out on the town and have vibrant social lives that I control and accomplish their goals in a much shorter amount of time than in real life: combine control, vicarious living, and instant gratification. After I restarted my current game for the second time I realized that my perfectionism was taking over, forcing me to give up progress in a game that was going really well because there was one thing I didn’t like and couldn’t fix.

I think part of why my perfectionism is taking over is because of how much I had to suppress it to cope with the reality of the wedding. There were a lot of things that didn’t go the way I wanted; I’ve been trying really hard not to dwell on them because if I focus on them I’ll feel like it was a complete disaster. But keeping the focus on the positive is exhausting, and to be honest I’m not entirely sure it’s healthy. We need to acknowledge the not-so-good aspects of our lives, even if we can’t do anything about them.

The thing that’s bothering me the most is that, because of how the space was set up and where my bridal party ended up standing, it was very difficult for my guests to see what was going on during the ceremony. I felt doubly bad about that because we hadn’t invited the majority of the guests to the legal ceremony last year, so this was their chance to see us ‘get married’. At least they were able to hear it?

Worse, I completely forgot about the audio recorder I’d brought specifically to record the ceremony and especially our vows – a compromise so we wouldn’t have to pay for a videographer. I don’t have the audio recording, and no one was able to take video because they couldn’t see it, and my memory of audio input leaves much to be desired… So, in short, the only record of the most important aspect of the entire affair – our vows – is written notes that exclude the parts we improvised.

I don’t know if I would have remembered to set up the audio recorder if things had gone differently, but we could have at least had the bridal party positioned so the guests could see. (Then maybe someone would have taken video!) We didn’t have time to have a rehearsal because we were late getting to the venue and then I lost track of time and I don’t even know where everyone was, so I probably would have had a difficult time getting them together. And some people – mostly members of Fox’s family – came early and started talking to us. So no rehearsal, and bridal party pictures had to be taken during the reception … but at least the space was partially cleaned and the handicap-accessible restroom didn’t smell of cigarette smoke.

Part of why we were late getting to the venue was because it took longer to get things together than I’d been expecting, and part was because I got in an argument with the bridesmaid who’d been kind enough to do our centerpieces. She wanted to get them from her parents’ car (which would be at the venue a little bit later), but I knew we wouldn’t have time for her to find her parents, get their key, unload the centerpieces, and reload them into Banji’s car. We were both butting heads for a stupid amount of time before I realized I could (and should!) just go. Then I felt bad for leaving Banji to deal with the situation, and I thought we were an hour later than we actually were because I’d forgotten to set my car’s clock back, so I was a furious raging mess. People kept telling me to calm down but to be honest I was glad I could express myself, and I needed to do so; it was what was healthy at the time. Can you imagine if I’d kept all that in? It would have been a nightmare.

No rehearsal meant that random things happened during the procession and introductions that weren’t what I wanted, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. “The show must go on.” For the most part it was fine; none of the guests have complained. No one has even said anything about not being able to see the ceremony. I think, really, they’re just happy to have come together and enjoyed themselves for an afternoon. That was my goal, the rest of it was just details.

I had a nice long conversation with Mom in the middle of writing this. We talked about all the things that went wrong before and during the wedding and complained to each other about annoying things that people did. We both expressed how we felt about all these things. She assured me that no one’s upset about not being able to see the ceremony. We also talked about some of the things that went well – mostly good ideas she had. I found the conversation to be helpful and energizing; I meant it when I said I enjoyed talking to her (as we hugged goodbye for about the 5th time).

I think I just really needed to process this stuff. Now that I’ve done it, I might still need a while to get my energy back and get back on my feet doing useful things, but at least I don’t have to waste energy suppressing part of my experience. There were some things that were disappointing, that I wish had gone differently. I accept that and you know what, I allow myself to feel disappointed that they didn’t go the way I wanted. That’s okay. It’s natural and healthy.

But I also choose not to dwell on them. I choose not to focus on them at the expense of the important things. I’m missing a couple of items I’d brought to the venue with me; finding them is very important so that’s a good way to direct my energy. Going forward, I choose to focus more on the stuff that went right: most importantly, that I got my big family wedding and everyone had a great time – including me. I choose to remember dancing with my loved ones, seeing them having fun, goofing off with my friends, and the love, all the love! Feeling so fully and vibrantly alive. That’s what’s worth remembering.

Extrovert?

The wedding was everything I’d hoped it would be. Almost everyone came, it was a beautiful day, the food was excellent, the music was varied enough that everyone had something to connect with and enjoy, and all I heard were compliments.

Even the things that went wrong were fantastic: the thing that was forgotten was a pair of cufflinks, of which we had two extra. The injury was an annoying scratch on my finger that I forgot about and no one noticed. The moment when I froze was an opportunity to practice stand-up comedy, which was well-received. The wardrobe malfunction was a detachable cap sleeve that came undone in the middle of my and Fox’s first dance and stayed attached so we could continue dancing unimpeded. People said they liked the dress even more without it and its counterpart! We ran behind schedule and yet things ended up happening at the time I’d planned for them to. The lulls in music and activity were great opportunities for people to talk and connect with each other.

There are some things I wish had gone differently, but they’re minor compared to all the things that were good. My guests had a wonderful time and thanked and congratulated me and told me I was beautiful. Our families came together as one and wished us well. We took a risk and started a new tradition that worked out beautifully. The cake was gorgeous. I succeeded in getting some of it on Fox’s face.

And best of all, I was able to be fully engaged in the celebration pretty much from the moment I woke up. I didn’t even need to use the restroom from the time I got into the dress until I was on my way back to the bridal suite to take it off! The dress was gorgeous and fit me perfectly (yay lace-up back!) and moved with me while I danced uninhibited. Mom kept track of time and gave me reminders so I could just enjoy interacting with guests. I was totally in the moment, expressing emotions as they came up (mostly joy), asserting myself, connecting with people, and feeling secure and confident and loved. So loved!

I thoroughly enjoyed being the center of attention. One of the highlights of the afternoon was when Mom was bugging reminding me to do introductions (of the bridal party) and a song came on that I wanted to dance to. I ran out in the middle of the dance floor and started dancing, completely improvised. I had so much fun! Everyone was watching me and people even clapped along with the music and it was so fantastic! No second guesses, no insecurity, no worries, no fear, no nerves, just confidence. I was performing. I was gorgeous and graceful and one with the music and so full of joy! People got amazing pictures that show off the dress and my radiance. I loved every moment of it.

I was exhausted after the wedding and my feet hurt so much I could barely walk upright. For about a quarter of a second, I considered collapsing on a couch in a private room that was part of the bridal suite and happened to be empty. But then I thought, “No, I need to be around people right now. If I’m alone I’ll crash too hard.” So I chilled with my and Fox’s friends who were sitting around the main room talking. We went back to the hotel and went in the Jacuzzi for a bit, which was excellent for my sore muscles and helped me calm down while still feeling happy. I felt motivated to interact with my family members as much as possible that evening and the next morning and was able to connect with them and that felt fantastic. I loved being surrounded by people I love who love me and were saying things that made me feel so wonderful! Like my uncle saying he wouldn’t have missed this for anything.

I really shouldn’t have been driving around on Monday because I was too tired, but I was happy to spend time with Banji and her family. Yesterday I was so exhausted I decided to Skype in for my session with Wakana. I told her all about the wedding and she was just beaming to see me so happy. She said she thinks I’m an extrovert and being around people is what gives me energy – not to say that I don’t need or can’t enjoy some alone time, just that being with others is what makes me feel the most alive.

I thought about my life and realized she really has a point. Just being surrounded by people isn’t enough, I need to feel like I’m connected with them – otherwise I might as well be alone. (Actually, it’s worse than being alone. It’s lonely.) But when I am able to interact with others and they respond to me and we feel a connection, that is how I feel like a person who exists in the world and matters and can be expressive and creative and free. That is when I feel the most joy.

Even when I’m enjoying my time alone, it seems I want to socialize. As a kid I would play pretend and make up imaginary characters to interact with. My thoughts have always taken the form of at least two people having a conversation. I spend inordinate amounts of time on Facebook and checking email or other social media. I socialize vicariously through the books I read, video media I watch, and how I play The Sims 3. My favorite video games are RPGs in which the player gets to run around talking to a variety of characters; even when I’m traveling or exploring a dungeon I like to have a companion with me. Blogging is a great opportunity for introspection, but I also use it to connect with other people. I thrive on readers’ feedback.

For so long I thought I was introverted; when I realized my experience and needs were different from introverted friends I thought it was just because I was less introverted than they are. But I think the reason why I predominantly preferred to be alone for much if not most of my life was because I felt insecure, out of control, and ostracized in most social situations – particularly large groups. That has nothing to do with introversion; it’s from having an inaccurate understanding of my place in the world as a result of trauma from birth through adolescence.

I still generally prefer smaller groups, or at least to only have to interact with a handful of people at a time. But the point is, I find it energizing.

As long as whomever I’m with isn’t actively draining me, I don’t need to be alone to recover my energy after socializing. Since the wedding, I haven’t wanted to be alone; I’ve actually made a lot of effort to avoid being alone. Today there might not be anyone else in the living room with me, but I’ve been hungrily eating ‘likes’ on Facebook. I keep reading people’s congratulations and staring at pictures from the wedding. I’m trying to regain that experience of being surrounded by almost a hundred people who had all come to celebrate me.

Exhausted

I’ve been spending a lot of time with my mother lately, mostly doing things for the wedding (or talking about them). It feels good to be productive and my social activities score on the Burns Depression Checklist has been extremely low (which is good). Things are getting done, it’s all coming together, and for the most part I’m happy and optimistic.

On top of wedding stuff, I’m doing my best to be supportive of Fox: giving him massages, making sandwiches, doing my best to be responsive to his needs. It can’t be all I am, but for now I find it empowering because I can make a difference for someone I care about and he appreciates it. (He’s working full time in a job that has him on his feet all day to support both of us.)

The only catch is, all this stuff doesn’t really leave a lot of time for me.

The time with Mom usually starts out good. She gives useful suggestions and feeds me and we talk and we get stuff done (admittedly, more than I probably would if left to my own devices – but don’t tell her that!).

But over time she gets to me. She’s freaking out about every little thing – and freaks out even more if someone tells her she’s stressed and she needs to calm down. From what she’s told me, they send mixed messages: “You have to do this! Actually you can do whatever you want, stop worrying about what people say you have to do.” Something about goodie bags for hotel rooms, I tell her “don’t sweat it,” she thinks I mean don’t do it and gets angry because she’s already gotten all the stuff and I have to explain myself. (It’s great she’s doing them and what she has is overly generous, so she can just do what she’s planning and not worry about it – i.e. please stop talking about it.) This person’s saying this to her and that person’s afraid of that and I don’t have any of the context so I freak out because I want everyone to show up and have a good time and congratulate me.

She’s talking about it constantly and she can do whatever she wants for the wedding, but I can’t do this idea because it’s not appropriate for the type of event I’m hosting or that idea because it’s “too much” or whatever. It’s my fucking wedding, what I want should be law, but that’s just now how it works in the real world (or at least my world). She thinks we should list the buffet selections on the program, Fox thinks it’s tacky, I don’t even know what I want except for him to happy with it. Finally she agreed to make separate menu cards and we adjusted the spacing on the program so now it’s perfect. Let’s move on!

I feel like it’s her wedding and she’s constantly telling me what to do for it. I feel like my life is her life and she’s constantly telling me what to do for it. I say “I need to ______” and she says “You need to ________” like I don’t know or “Well? Why aren’t you doing it?!” – the answer is usually “because you’re in the middle of a sentence.” Planning my own wedding shouldn’t feel like I’m constantly being assigned homework.

There’s so much going on and so much that’s been done I don’t even know what I need to do anymore! I feel like I’m going to forget the most important thing, like writing my vows. By the time she decides to call it a night and stop randomly invading my space to talk about this and that, I can’t think anymore. I’m literally too exhausted to think. I kind of want to… oh please don’t say “die,” I’ve gone 13 days without any suicidal urges and I want to keep up my streak! Have some time when I don’t need to think, especially not about wedding stuff. Time when I can just exist, rest, relax … maybe meditate?

On a related note, my whole experience of life has shifted quite a bit. I’m a lot less depressed, and despite being stressed out about everything above and more I think I’m less anxious and irritable and whatnot, too. Okay, maybe not less irritable, I have been fighting with my mother quite a bit – but I consider that an improvement over being a doormat. Well, okay, I’m kind of still a doormat. I’m a doormat with at least one corner that rolls up and trips people. But I have reasons to fight with my mother, I’m not just angry at the people closest to me for no reason. That’s definitely an improvement.

I used to be depressed pretty much all the time, except for really good days when I was considerably less depressed. Now I think there are times during the day – occasionally, whole days – when I’m not depressed at all. (There might be some symptoms of depression, but not enough or severe enough to be problematic.)

Ironically, I notice my depression more because it’s a significant change in my functioning: sadness I can’t explain or that comes on stronger than I’d expect, feeling like all my energy has drained away, losing interest in engaging with other people and the world, trouble concentrating or focusing (nor not wanting to think anymore because I’m so exhausted)… I can almost say, “at about noon I was feeling happy and I had energy and I was focused on doing this and that and asserting myself and knew I could achieve what I was setting out to do, etc. … but at 6pm I felt depressed.” I’d feel a lot more confident saying that – and especially giving specific times – if I were writing down significant shifts in my mood throughout the day.

I still kind of hesitate to attribute the improvement to the Lamictal, but I am pleased to say that I’ve been taking it consistently at about the same time every day. Continuing to do so is important to me, especially with all the stress around the wedding and the crash I expect to happen afterward (based on past experience; multiply that by about a million). My scores on the Burns Depression Checklist in the week after the wedding will be the real indicator of whether this medication is helping me. In the meantime, I’m encouraged by the improvement in my scores since my dose was increased and the lack of significant side effects.

If you’re in the U.S. and you haven’t voted yet, please do so!

Vampire

My mother seems to have a special talent for draining all of my energy. She starts talking and I go from feeling alive and motivated to do something and in a relatively pleasant mood to, well … exhausted. overwhelmed. very, very angry. And then it’s harder to do anything.

Over the weekend, it was my aunt and uncle. I thought all three of them, plus my cousin, were draining my energy. Or rather that their 4-way shouting match was overwhelming me. It certainly didn’t help, but I’m pretty convinced my mother was the one actively draining my energy. If nothing else, she’s the one who insisted on talking about the topic that prompted the argument, even though the conversation wasn’t going very well.

Slurp.

Yesterday Fox and I were going about our business getting ready to visit with Banji, who had come back to her parents’ house for the weekend. Mom called to say she was bringing home some soup for me; that sounded delicious so I decided to wait for her so we could enjoy the soup before leaving. When will I learn that “free food from Mom” isn’t free?

She comes in my (part of the) house and starts talking about the wedding celebration we’re planning to have with both my and Fox’s large, noisy, chaotic, wonderful families. I grab a notebook and start making a list in hopes of having some semblance of organization, and so my head won’t explode. She’s concerned about / we need to:

  • find a hotel near the venue that offers complimentary breakfast for out-of-town guests
  • contact the venue about
    • coming to their next food tasting
    • viewing the room where our event will take place
      • including possible layouts
      • and measurements so we can hold our own rehearsal if necessary
    • asking when the buffet will be set up
  • decide what I’m wearing and acquire the necessary items
  • decide on a color and send swatches to members of the bridal party with guidelines
    • guys in black pants and dress shirts, vests of desired color
    • female-bodied individuals who are willing to wear a skirt in dresses of the desired color
  • coordinate transportation and hotel rooms for the bridal party
    • I should spend the night before the event with Banji, Fox with his best man
  • clearly communicate expectations/responsibilities to bridal party
  • contact our photographer
    • negotiate costs including meal, travel, and accommodations (if necessary)
    • what, specifically, we want to photograph
    • written contract
  • music for the procession, dinner, and dancing
    • be sure to include songs she likes
  • officiant

You have to understand, my mother does not give me organized lists. She does not create PowerPoint presentations to separate her ideas into manageable chunks of related information. She does not allow for a Q&A session at the end. She does not give a 15-minute break. She just starts talking, and I have to listen. I have to have answers. I have to follow her as she moves from one topic to another without warning and goes off on tangents. I have to do something to show her that some action will be taken to ease her anxiety about whatever it is.

I made the list to try and salvage my own (and Fox’s) sanity – and so I can show it to her the next time she tries to plan my entire wedding in one conversation. Maybe instead of talking about everything again, we can focus on and accomplish something.

The conversation was actually a lot shorter than I thought, but to look at Fox and me you’d think a small tornado had come through. He said he was very frustrated. He looked exhausted. I felt exhausted. Derailed. And pressured to do something right away, never mind that we’d been in the process of getting ready to go somewhere. Never mind that someone was waiting for us. Someone I care about deeply.

I searched online and found several hotels within 5 miles of the venue, five of which offer some kind of complimentary breakfast. I emailed a list to Mom and told her she’s welcome to contact them with her questions. Why she couldn’t do the search if she was so concerned is beyond me, but it’s done. I’ve thrown her a bone to chew on instead of my sanity.

She’s like a cat who’s been thrown into water clawing her way on top of a flotation device (me). Or a spider with a fly caught in her web. I’m her worry stone, and soon she’s going to wear a hole in me.

I love my mother. Really, I do. I have so much to be grateful to her for. And I truly believe that she loves and cares about me.

Honest.

But I just have enough of my own shit to deal with without her draining all my energy. I’m already on a roller coaster; it’s intense enough without her making the drops taller and the turns sharper and the upside-down loops more nauseating. The last thing I need is for her to disable the safety bar that’s the only thing keeping me from flying off in some random direction, probably to my doom.

I need to feel safe and have some stability in my relationships. Is that so much to ask?

Breaking and Entering

When I was a child, I loved playing with blocks at the after-school program I attended. I would pull out the wide variety of differently-shaped and sized wooden blocks and build with them for hours. Most often, I would create a zoo, which I’d then populate with plastic animals, so each species had its own habitat. I’d finish it off using the wooden train set, building an elaborate track so visitors could ride on the train around the entire zoo and see all of the animals. I loved building this structure.

Until, invariably, I would need to use the restroom. I’d leave my creation unattended for a minute and, invariably, someone would knock it down. When I returned I would find a giant mess where once there was a carefully-crafted zoo – which, by the way, I probably hadn’t had the chance to play with yet, at least not as much as I wanted to. I would get so upset, but the only message I remember getting from the adults present was that now I had to clean it all up. My zoo was reduced to a scattered pile of random toys cluttering up the floor. I didn’t even have the chance to mourn it, I just had to put all the toys away and make the room look like my creation had never even existed.

Never do I once remember the kid or kids who knocked down my creation being scolded, or required to help me clean up (or rebuild, that would have been nice), or stopped before they had a chance to do it. I doubt they were ever taught that knocking down someone else’s building is mean. I had no advocates, no protection, no empathy. I was wrong for wanting something as simple as control over how long my creation lasted; when and under what circumstances I took it down. Maybe, just once, I wanted to be the one who got to destroy it! – preferably after showing it off to my parents?

Fast forward a good 20 years, and I feel like I’m staring at a scattered pile of random toys where once my zoo had been. Except that the “toys” are hopes, dreams, accomplishments, skills, fragments of my sense of self, and fragments of my confidence. And the “zoo” is me, or at least the me I’d spent my whole life thinking I was building. Now I’m just a scattered mess cluttering up the room (literally, this whole apartment is quite cluttered). And the only thing I was ever taught to do is clean up the mess, to make it look like I never even existed.

Enter the folks who addressed things to “Mr. and Mrs. Fox Tamesis” – where once I was a person worthy of my own first name, I’ve been condensed into a minor extension of Fox’s identity.

We got married, and marriage is an ancient tradition, and everyone has their own ideas of what it means. I get that. But it’s also a personal thing between me and my equal partner in life, and it’s hard for me to accept another kid putting his giraffe in my zebra habitat.

Someone told us to “keep the Lord in [our] marriage,” which seems rather invasive to me. I know it’s a reminder to stay in touch with our spirituality / the Divine but that’s just the thing, my spirituality / connection with the Divine has always been deeply personal (and divergent from mainstream organized religion). Someone I maybe met once has no business saying anything about it, especially not using language I’m not comfortable with. I’m not even sure how much of my spirituality I want to share with Fox! That’s something we need to work out, using our Fox-to-Ziya / Ziya-to-Fox dictionaries, in our own time, and in the privacy of our own home thank-you-very-much.

During our ceremony, we had time for the loved ones gathered there to offer us blessings. Most of the blessings were really beautiful, but there is one that bugs me and took me a bit by surprise because it was a younger person (a few years younger than us) who said it: “Put God first, your wife second, and yourself third.”

I’m gender-bending enough to want to interpret that as a message to each of us, with the other taking on the role of “wife” just so the quote still works. But pretty much everybody sees Fox as the husband and me as the wife in this relationship, regardless of our behavior and anything we might say, due to our biologically-determined secondary sex characteristics. So, this blessing we requested to be for both of us ended up being addressed solely to him. He gets to be the active party, making and acting on priorities while I sit here looking pretty clean up the mess that used to be my ability to do things for myself and be recognized as a person in my own right.

And then there’s the comment someone made on a picture of me and my mom, who for all her faults has been trying to be there for me all these years and at the very least has provided for my material needs. Fifteen years – over half my life! – since my father abused me and hurt her and wouldn’t give up an addiction to try and save his own life, someone has the nerve to bring him into a special moment between my mom and me by saying “he’d be proud to see his daughter joined in matrimony.”

Excuse me! I have no idea what my father would think of me or Fox; I might’ve been a completely different person if he were still alive. Of course, any father would be proud to see his daughter married – isn’t that what daughters are for? Marrying off?

But my relationship with my father is and was more complicated than that. He always encouraged my intellectual growth and never primed me for marriage. Whatever I need to work through to be able to forgive him for the mistakes he made, that’s personal. Whatever Mom’s going through – if she’s thinking about it at all – is her business. No one has the right to pull our relationships with my father into the public sphere.

In that moment in the picture, Mom and I were sharing something special. My mom was giving me her blessing on my wedding day; she was proud to see her daughter actively join with a wonderful person who will make an excellent lifelong partner. And unlike my father, she’s had the opportunity to meet Fox and butt heads with him and come to respect him and see how good he is to and for me.

When I hugged Mom after the ceremony, she said she’d always prayed for me to be happy, and now I am – I was beaming throughout the entire ceremony – and she’s happy for me. For that moment, at least, she could actually see me.

Unfortunately, it didn’t last. On the car ride home, I was exhausted. It had been a very hectic and exciting day; though I’d been happy and joyful through most of it, I also felt every other emotion I’d felt in my entire life. That’s not an exaggeration. I just wanted to relax, reminisce, and bask in the joy of what had just happened – preferably while cuddling with my husband.

But Mom asked me to sit up front with her and navigate; I didn’t even pause to consider the possibility of saying “no.” Throughout nearly the entire ride home she kept talking about things we need to do for the big family celebration we’ve been planning for next year. (This year was a small affair with the primary purpose of signing the legal document.) Worst, she kept bringing up bridesmaid dresses, which is between me and my bridesmaids. (Duh!) I told her I was tired and let’s talk about that later. Fox told her we don’t need to make those decisions yet. She kept saying, “I’m just talking” until finally I said, “Please stop!” She drained all my energy from me until there was nothing left. I’d just gotten married and I could feel nothing, I saw no future, no purpose to being. I couldn’t bring back the happiness I’d felt during the ceremony and I felt like I’d never feel it again. I just wanted to stop existing.

Once we were alone we felt energized, happy and excited, and more deeply bonded. We were able to thoroughly enjoy ourselves. The well wishes we’ve been receiving since a day before the wedding have brought a lot of joy and helped me to feel very, very loved. They’re still trickling in and each one brings a smile to my face; better yet I can look back on all of them and remember that joy.

But our loved ones went home and they’re hundreds of miles away again (especially Kit and Banji). We’re back to our scattered life – the need to find jobs especially. Last night I found out that one of my student loans has gone into repayment and my first payment was actually past due; thank goodness I had the money in my checking account to pay it right away! But I don’t know what I’m doing with my loans and school, and I don’t know how much “encouragement” I should be giving Fox to be on top of those things for himself, and my account balances keep dwindling. I’d love to just go out and get a job today but I’m not sure I’ll be able to maintain the confidence I need to follow through with the whole application process (including interviews). If I get a job I’m afraid depression and/or anxiety will get the best of me and I won’t be able to keep it – or if I do manage to keep it I’ll still be miserable. And there’s still the sense of “but I still need to take care of myself; I should focus on my own mental health treatment.” Except that I still don’t know where to go to get the treatment I need, and I hate the idea of calling to make appointments, and I don’t have health insurance.

Every interaction I have with Mom convinces me that I’m wrong. Whatever I was doing before she interrupted me that I’d really like to continue with and/or get back to, wrong. When I finally get my act together and order groceries online, she tells me I should go to the supermarket where the items cost less, even though in my experience I tend to spend more. I can tell her that until I’m blue in the face; I can show her my receipts, but I’m still wrong. I haven’t done this list of things I keep saying I need to do, so I’m wrong – and I’ve been depleted of the energy I need to do them. I closed the door to my apartment, so I’m wrong. Fox enforced the boundary we need to stay sane by asking her to leave us alone, so I’m wrong.

Hello person who can afford to discriminate among a plethora of potential employees based on the time of day, the color of your socks, or the straightness of the applicant’s part. I’d really like this job, but everything I do, say, or think is wrong. I’m probably wrong for wanting a job in the first place. Oh, the information on my resume is factually correct, I’m just inherently wrong. I breathe wrong. I think wrong. I am wrong. Will you please hire me?

Most recently Mom’s told us that if we have money in our names we might not qualify for affordable health insurance. Worse, the corporations behind our student loans can freeze our accounts and take the money away. I have to imagine that would only happen if we really fell behind on payments, but I can’t say with confidence that we’ll be able to keep up with them. We need jobs for that – even though we’re both still in school. I might be able to take enough credits in one semester to defer my loans again, but to my knowledge that isn’t an option for him.

Mom’s solution is to put the money we’ve received as wedding gifts into an account under her name. I trust her not to spend the money; I’m less confident that I trust her to give it back to us no strings attached and not try to influence what we do with it. Even if we were to do that, we still need to create a joint account so we can deposit the checks that have been made out to both of us – some “Mr. & Mrs.” and some using my first and “maiden” names. There will be a paper trail. I barely have the emotional energy to get dressed in the morning – never mind worrying about what the consequences might be if someone investigates money coming into our names, just to go into someone else’s soon afterward.

That was the plan the last time I talked to her; for some reason I find it immeasurably difficult to say “thank you, but Fox and I will handle this on our own.” We’ve talked about it and made our own decision about how to handle our finances. I just want to follow through with that decision and have it be respected. I don’t want to have to dread telling her what I’ve done, like a disobedient child. And I want – need! – to know that any money in an account under my name (whether it’s joint or solo) will only be removed with my consent. Is it so wrong to ask for that security?

The walls of my zoo have been knocked down and I don’t know where the lionesses went. There are giraffes in my zebra habitat. My train track has been scattered. I can’t find the train.

At the very least, I need someone to look me in the eye and tell me they understand why I’m so upset. Some help finding things and rebuilding my zoo would be really, really nice.

Just don’t tell me to put these toys away. I’m not finished with them yet.

Dancing in the Eye of the Storm

So I’ve been officially married for a little over a day now (by about three hours), and that’s been enough time to process a decent amount of what happened yesterday.

Ziya and I started yesterday off tired. I was running on less sleep the ze was, and had just enough time to shower, shave and have a weak cup of tea; particularly since we were meeting Banji for breakfast. That breakfast was good and calm; we got back with just enough time for Ziya and hir mom to head out for their hair appointments.

And that’s where the chaos started. Earlier, Ziya and I agreed that chocolates from a nearby restaurant/confectionery would make a good gift for our officiant. Since Ziya had a hair appointment, it was up to me to pick them up and choose the assortment. I did so with Banji’s help after I got dressed (including a new element that I decided to bring at the spur of the moment); she drove Ziya’s car to the restaurant and back. The drive over was calm enough, and gave us time to talk. But of course, we arrived 45 minutes before the place opened. So we did the only smart thing: drove back, and decided we’d head out just after opening time. The remaining half-hour or so was a blur of nervous movement; my double-checking that we had everything we needed to bring with us, getting Banji’s help with preparing a cross that showed up better on the shirt, and then finding myself with more time than I had things to do with it.

Which I began to spend worrying about the unknown, small details. It took Banji encouraging me to go meditate or otherwise do something to calm down for me to actually do so. But it helped: rather than fighting to control something I couldn’t then, I worked within how the morning was beginning to flow. Then, about 11am we made the second attempt at the chocolate gathering trip. This one was successful (even though I began to get nervous about how long it was taking). But I apparently didn’t need to worry; Ziya and hir mom had arrived back later than we had expected, and were still getting ready when we returned. So in the end, our second trip didn’t mess up our timing.

We all arrived at the restaurant where the ceremony was to take place well before our original “need to arrive” time of 1:30pm. And honestly, this was where the storm really began to pick up speed. Non-essential guests began to arrive earlier than we had anticipated they would; making figuring out seating arrangements very entertaining. That also delayed critical set up elements; things like figuring out where the ceremony would actually occur, setting up the video camera, etc. And then, a little after 2pm, we found out that our original information had been wrong: we were going to have the ceremony first, and then appetizers; not the other way around.

Up until that point, I had been trying to carefully wrangle everything, and get it to fit neatly into our expectations of how the day was supposed to go. Ziya and I were standing at the edge of the storm, trying to mold it through sheer force of will. But at that moment, I did something very smart: I stood in the eye of the storm instead, and began to move with it. Ziya seemed to follow my lead on that shortly after. And in doing so, we began to “dance” with the beat the storm was providing.

And that’s when everything fell into place, and we began to enjoy ourselves. We trusted our friends and family to do their part well, and were able to enjoy the company we had assembled there. We were able to focus on the moment, and be fully present in what is arguably the most important ritual for our shared lives together. And we danced that dance for the next four hours through a five course meal, a gorgeous ceremony, inspired (and beautiful) blessings/prayers and toasts, and conversation that seemed to flow naturally. The only bump amidst all this was the semi-frequent, posed photo opp interruptions, and those only became a real problem towards the end.

We left the restaurant exhausted but happy; we danced our way through the first step on our journey together as a married couple. We were able to spend most of the rest of the night enjoying each other’s company, and the warmth and love that came through each like, congrats, and other blessings posted on Facebook. And we realized that what my cousin (among others) had said was true: the marriage did change our relationship. Not in a scary way though; the very act of declaring our commitment to each other in front of all of those witnesses made the commitment that much more important; that much more of an anchoring point for our new life together.

…and the storm’s energy too.

So it’s less then twelve hours before the legal wedding day for Ziya and me, and I find myself unable to sleep. My brain has figured out my once in a three month post that is begging to be let out, and won’t shut up until I let it do just that.

I find myself worried about later today. Not the pre-wedding jitters you might expect though: ie, is this the right decision; oh no it’s my last night of “freedom” sort of stuff. I mean, sure, we didn’t have the time to fit in bachelor and bachelorette parties. But that isn’t weighing on me; honestly, anything we might have had (and might still have before the big family gathering) would be positively tame and boring by societal standards. None of the strip club stupidity or getting drunk or anything really dumb like that; that’s just not our style, and it never will be.

No, that’s not what’s keeping me up. It’s the uncertainty of certain factors. For example, we don’t know exactly what space we’ll have to work with, and how it’ll be set up. So we’ll need to make those decisions on the fly only about an hour before the ceremony starts. We don’t know how or where we’ll be standing, if our guests will be standing around us in a semi-circle or sitting around the table. We don’t know what the optimal camera setup will be to record the whole thing for our friends and family who we couldn’t invite.

I’m also finding myself nervous about when to put on my formal wear: before we leave for the site, or when we get there. And I’m even nervous about the silly little things like whether or not to wear a tee-shirt underneath my dress shirt, or what of my normal, everyday jewelry will go well with said shirt. I’m worried about us getting out of the house on time, and whether or not my best man will be able to make it at the time we need him to be there by.

And that’s only what I’m worried about that is directly related to the wedding itself. I’m very worried about something that I haven’t had the chance to talk to Ziya about; something that needs to be resolved within the next few days. And I can’t resolve that on my own: in order to actually do something about it, I need to call in help from Ziya or my parents (most likely my parents). And that’s help that I’m still not entirely comfortable calling for – even though I know its a necessity. I wouldn’t be in this boat if I had been a little smarter about something several months back, or if my own depression hadn’t gotten (and is still getting) in the way of a critical step that would have greatly helped resolve it.

But I did what I did, and now I need to deal with the consequences of it. And worrying about it does me no good. Just like those little worries about our big day – they do nothing useful. Whether or not I travel in my formal wear doesn’t actually make much of a difference in the scheme of things. Nor does the jewelry choice; it’s not like one necklace really takes that long to put on, and changing to another one won’t kill our chances of getting out on time. And no matter how the setup changes, tomorrow will happen exactly how it needs to; it will be wonderful no matter what might come up. Because Ziya and I have faced bigger things before, and come through on the other side stronger than we were when we entered. This will be no different.

The Calm Before the Storm – Um, Wedding

Well, I guess this is it. We’ve got everything together for our legal marriage ceremony (including the license). We contacted the people we needed to; I had a rather awesome conversation with my aunt. It was the kind of conversation I’d hoped to have with my mom on the eve of my wedding, but she said she “hasn’t been thinking about it” almost like it’s a bad thing. I give up, I’m not going to go out of my way to try and have anything special with my mom. Maybe someday she’ll wake up and realize that she’s missing out on me.

My aunt was hurt that she couldn’t come to the legal ceremony, but made every effort to express her love and well-wishes for us to have a long, happy, and successful life together. It was so uplifting! I apologized and explained and thanked her a million times and I’m pretty sure the hurt was healed. We talked about some interests we have in common, and she taught me some things I didn’t know about cooking. It felt so good to connect with her, to hear her say “I love you” and say it back and really mean it. I’m thinking this is something I’d like to do more often.

Another aunt sent flowers, and we received two cards with generous gifts addressed to “Mr. & Mrs. Fox Tamesis.” I needed to stomp around roaring for a while before I could encourage Fox and his female alter ego to open the cards. Fox’s mom explained that it’s the old-school etiquette way to address something to a married couple, and if we keep sending them things from “Fox and Ziya Tamesis” they’ll eventually get the hint. I really hope so because I’ve been fighting against the popular notion that taking your husband’s last name is somehow giving up your identity; addressing things to both of us using just his first name is taking things a bit far! We’re still two people with two identities, we’ve just joined to form a family.

I’m going to write this, just for shits and giggles: Mr. and Mrs. Ziya Tamesis.

Mmm, it has a ring to it.

Anyways, now everything is quiet and peaceful and all we have left to do is sleep. I have no idea where this new adventure will lead, but I finally know for sure that it’s what I want to do. That certainty feels amazing.

Fox and I have faced a lot of challenges in our relationship so far and we’ve only grown as a result of each of them. I look forward to whatever is yet to come, knowing he is by my side.

Hemming and Hawing

When I shared last night’s post with Fox, he told me that he was also feeling anxious about the wedding and showed a lot of support and understanding for what I was going through. That helped so much to relieve my own anxiety, especially since he acknowledged that “it’s a big change” – yeah, it’s huge!

Especially with it being Samhain, I’ve been thinking about doing something to mark not just the beginning of our legally-recognized (and binding) life together, but the end of my life as a legally single person. I’m just not sure exactly what to do, since to my knowledge the only equivalent in this culture is a bachelor party. My and Fox’s idea of a fun bachelor party is a game night. But I’m not really looking for it to be something fun, I’m more in the mood for something solemn. There’s a lot I need to let go of because I’ve never had it and I never will. I could also really use something to help me reconnect with my spirituality.

Today (Thursday) was a good day. Mom and I had a pleasant lunch, then Fox joined me when I went to get my dress hemmed. Once we were done with the initial pinning and I didn’t have to stand still anymore, the process actually became kind of fun. We talked and laughed. I sewed the final hem in the bottom of the dress. And possibly for the first time in my life I have long sleeves that actually fit me the way they’re supposed to!

It felt wonderful to be able to walk around in that dress without having to hold the skirt up and to have the sleeves fall to just the right length. When we got home, Mom let me try on a couple of necklaces for my “something borrowed.” We agreed that a string of pearls looked the best.

Poof! Just like that, I have precisely what I’m going to wear on the big day. It feels wonderful. Even before the dress was actually hemmed, I was finding it hard to believe how stressed out I was yesterday/Wednesday. I had to tell myself that yesterday I was “wearing anxiety goggles,” which distorted my experience of everything. Today I wasn’t wearing them, so I could no longer relate to the experience I’d had while wearing them. It’s like the experiences belong to completely different realities – if by “reality” one means the current setting of my brain.

Things are falling into place and I’m finally starting to feel at peace with this whole thing. I have hair and nail appointments scheduled for next week, then we just need to show up on time with the license!

Aarghle Flarghle Blarghle!!!

Please bear with me. This stuff is all a jumbled mess and I need to get it out but I don’t know where to start.

Our legal marriage ceremony is in a week and a half. I let anxiety get the best of me and put off getting my dress hemmed by another day. I procrastinated by finally doing some of the other things I’d been procrastinating.

I don’t even know what I’m so anxious about. I know the person who will be hemming the dress, she’s a very nice supportive person and we’ve made clothes for me before. I’m even pretty sure I know what to expect. I’ve driven to and from her house a million times at all hours of the day and night. But just thinking about it makes me feel sick with anxiety.

I know I want to marry Fox and gain the legal recognition for what we’ve felt for some time. But I can’t shake the anxiety, and I can’t shake the feeling that I’m boxing myself in. Maybe it’s because we tend to fall into the trap of being each other’s only social interaction for days at a time, and because I’ve stopped doing a lot of things I used to enjoy since we met. But I can start doing those things again; we can and do spend time with other people both together and apart. We just need to make more of an effort to do so consistently. It’s a big problem but I don’t think running away from marriage is the answer. I think I can – I really want to – make it work with him.

Because there are times when it feels so right, like we were made for each other. Lately, those have been the times when we’ve turned off our computers and talked about the discussion questions in our premarital counseling homework. I’m hoping those will be valuable tools to keep us connecting with each other on the important things.

I’ve been playing The Sims 3 to reassure myself that life after marriage can work. The game I’ve written about most recently (Escape to Dragon Valley pt. 1 & pt. 2) started with a recently-married young adult couple – precisely what Fox and I will be in a week and a half. I stopped playing that family because the game kept crashing when I had the wife – who had just become an elder – try to plan her outfits. I started a new game with more of a focus on raising children, but it became nearly impossible for the sims to do anything without being in each other’s way. When the husband/father couldn’t eat breakfast because his teenage daughter was brushing the cat (and there wasn’t really a better spot available where she could have done so) I snapped and deleted my save files for both of the above families.

Just like that, they’re gone.

Now I’m playing a new family in the Sims 3 that started with – you guessed it – a recently-married young adult couple. I put them in a starter house with the goal of moving them to a small but easily-expandable house I had built on a generously-sized lot. They moved up their respective career tracks quickly, largely because they had access to skill books in the library (Moonlight Falls). Before long they were able to afford the house I had built them and start producing offspring, the first of which just grew up into a child. My primary focus is actually on her; the young adult sims exist to provide their children with the best possible foundation for a very promising future. Everything they’ve been doing – their financial success, all upgrades to their home, even the family portraits – all of it is for their children and future generations of this family. The young adults don’t even get memories, only the children do (one child so far, but I intend for them to have two).

I’ve been doing a pretty good job of balancing the parents’ needs, career development, friendships, and contribution to their child’s development. Their relationship with each other is suffering, though. It’s kind of rare for me to have them interact; I think part of it is how the game – especially its artificial intelligence – works, and part of it is mirroring my disconnection from Fox (which ironically manifests in and is worsened when I play the game). The bottom line is that having sims interact, especially in ways that build or maintain their relationships, takes consistent intentional effort. If I’ve learned anything from premarital counseling (and life in general) it’s that real-life relationships are much the same.

I’m wary of putting in that kind of effort because I’ve been hurt in the past. My mother requires a ton of it but tends not to give me what I need in return; if she does it’s at a very high cost. (For example: after supporting me in working through some of my anxiety today, she insisted on taking Fox’s shirt to be pressed without his knowledge or consent.) My father physically abused me. Other loved ones have died, moved away, withdrawn emotionally, taken advantage of me (or tried to do so), etc. I want this relationship to be different; I want to trust that it is. But I can’t. I’m constantly wary. I feel like it will all fall apart as soon as I relax.

And in a week and a half it will be legally binding. Mom says I can still back out; it’s entirely my choice. But I feel like I’m watching a train wreck … while bound to the front of the train.