…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.

Update

I kind of fell apart after Thursday. I got a new world for The Sims 3 and began playing yet another new family. They started out as a young couple sharing an apartment in the city (Bridgeport), and eventually saved enough money to move into a rather unique house in the suburbs (Dragon Valley – the new world I just acquired). Their son (born in-game) just grew up into a child and had his first day of school.

The wife/mother is having a midlife crisis because her career/passion (trying to become a hit movie composer/mastering violin) takes up so much time she’s missed many of the milestones in her son’s development. The husband/father is quite happy with his life despite giving up his dream of becoming a “fashion phenomenon” (i.e. reaching the top of the fashion/stylist career). He’s been a stay-at-home dad for most of his son’s life.

I think the above scenario reflects what I fear happening to me in real life, especially if I pursue a career in music therapy. I question whether I can develop the piano and especially guitar skills I’ll need to successfully audition for an internship, never mind sustain my career. If I do manage that, I’m afraid I’ll be too busy working and practicing to really be present for my (someday) children. Being a good parent is important to me, but I don’t really have a model for how to make that work with a full-time job.

Alternatively I guess I’m also afraid that I’ll never find a career I find satisfying and can be successful in. Of the two adult sims, the stay-at-home dad actually seems to have the better life … but there’s a reason I haven’t had the working wife/mother quit her job (even though they have enough money that she could). She’s well on her way to her goal, and I want her to achieve it. I need to see her have a successful music-centered career; to do no less than climb to the very top of that career ladder.

I’m also hoping she might find a way to balance work and family life. Is that even possible?

I’ve also been having a bit of an existential crisis regarding marriage. All of a sudden I feel like I’m running headlong into something I don’t really understand. Fox keeps saying we’re already living like we’re married, but signing the license turns our personal agreement into a legal contract. Do I really want to be legally bound to help make living together work? Am I ready for any financial repercussions that might result? Am I ready for my identity to change, not only in the name I go by but in my status under the law? What will my new email address be?

And, as if all this weren’t enough, I’m stressed out by wedding planning. We’ve decided to go with the venue we visited on Monday; we’re just waiting to hear back from our contact person so we can book our date. I tried to schedule an appointment to meet with him in person, but he said that wasn’t “immediately” necessary and that he could answer my questions about pricing over the phone. Not really a fan but I need the information before I can feel comfortable signing a contract. Another contract! So I’ve given him my number and now I get to spend a day with my fingers crossed that he won’t call when I’m in the bathroom or something.

Finally, my mother is driving me crazy. (What else is new?) We need to spend at least $50 per person to book the room we want, so we were looking over the menu to select “premium” items we might want to add. The prices for these items aren’t listed on the menu, so we need to ask our contact person over the phone (since they refuse to give numbers via email). Mom took over the conversation; she selected which non-premium items we’re going to have, insisting on a selection neither of us like (but are willing to have because it’s popular among our families) and all but vetoing at least one selection we’ve been seriously considering. All this, months before we actually need to determine our menu! – before we’ve even reserved our date!

Then she asks me if this is what I really want. NO!!! I want to decide that I like a potential venue, then find out her opinion of it. (she likes it. good.) I want to talk to the contact person at a time that is convenient for me, when I feel prepared to go over the information, ask intelligent questions, and make note of the answers. I want to have final say over important things like what goes on the menu. I want to feel like my voice is being heard during conversations about MY wedding! When someone asks what I want, I want to be able to answer them, not feel so overwhelmed all I can say is, “I don’t know.” Because I do know, but I lose my sense of myself as a person with opinions that matter during these conversations and it hurts like hell.

And now I’m questioning everything, including whether I really want to spend the rest of my life with Fox … even though the thought of asking him to leave is unbearable. I made this decision two years ago and yeah, people change, but we made a commitment that we will work together as we change and grow to keep our relationship healthy. We can go for premarital counseling and couples therapy, we can get advice from other married couples, we can make mistakes and learn from them, we can even get into arguments. And sure, yeah, we – or at least I – can question this decision every day … and renew our commitment to each other every day. What matters is that it’s done in love.

And as much as I’d love to end on that hopeful note, I need to share something that’s been scaring the carp out of me. Today, with much encouragement and prodding, was the first time I’ve been able to talk about all this. I’ve wanted to update this blog many times, but found myself unable to get the words to come, unable to even try and let them come. It’s anxiety. I don’t know what I think will happen if I let it out but I’m afraid to do so. I feel my muscles tensing, my throat tightening, my voice shriveling away. I open my mouth but there’s nothing. It’s too painful, I need to get away …

In other words, some internal process is keeping me from speaking up for myself, and I don’t like it. I want it to stop!

No Space for Me

Sad person with phrases all around

I spent yesterday searching for potential wedding venues that were similar to, but closer to home and theoretically less expensive than, the one we’d visited over the weekend (Too Good to Be True). I found a handful that I really liked and contacted them.

One got back to me today; I learned that their minimum number of guests was much higher than the number of people we would want to invite. The per-person cost was so high we couldn’t afford it even if we only invited the number of people we’re prepared to. I emailed back, asking if there was any room for negotiation. No. They need to “make the most of their time” – which apparently means turning up their noses at my (sane) budget. To put things into perspective, for about the same amount of money we could either a) have the wedding at the venue we visited over the weekend – including clothes, gifts for key people, a photographer, flowers, a website, save-the-date magnets, invitations, and a short honeymoon – or b) have the wedding at this new venue, naked and with no guests, because we couldn’t afford invitations.

I didn’t even get to finish telling Fox the disappointing news; he finished my sentence for me with a cutting finality. They’re off the list. They have to be, I know that, but I would like to finish my sentence, thanks. (And express my indecision about whether to respectfully decline, or just never respond to the most recent email.)

Fox’s mom supports us in our decision to get legally married at the courthouse within the next few months (with the intention of throwing a big party later) – but wants to invite her many siblings. A sort of reasonable request, I suppose – except that some of her siblings are close enough to just pop down for dinner, but none of my mother’s are. It kind of sends the message that my family is less important in this whole affair than Fox’s family is, and that just kills me. She wouldn’t listen to me – to either of us – when we said we just want to bring our witnesses and immediate families, no more than 10 people total. And then Fox’s sister took it upon herself to tell me how to think!  :-/

My mom thinks we should wait 1 year to get legally married (2014) and 2 years to throw the big party (2015). I’m not really crazy about that idea. Either we wait a year to get legally married so we can realistically invite everyone, or we go to the courthouse now (we could just go with our witnesses, but we’re being nice and inviting our parents) and throw the big party when we can afford it (and give people enough time to make travel arrangements). I’d prefer to have the party next year, but I’m willing to wait 2 years if that’s what it takes to get what we really want.

Fox and I decided over 2 years ago that we want to spend the rest of our lives together. We’re eager to acquire the legal and other benefits that come with being recognized as a married couple. I plan to change my surname; I’d like to be able to begin using my new name within the next few months. Especially as we’re hit over and over again by the insane prices of the bridal industry, we find it more and more tempting to enter legal marriage sooner. It’s a choice we can make – and act on! – without spending tens of thousands of dollars … as long as we’re willing to do so without our giant family physically present.

Though, to be honest, I’m torn. I feel like I’m giving up my identity. The new identity I’d be taking on is my choice, but I guess I’m starting to question it a little bit. I’m happy to join Fox’s family and I see taking their name as a symbol of that affinity. But I don’t want to be eaten up by them, given no say in my own life and told how to think. We’re a family, not the Borg. I need them to respect my boundaries.

I need everyone to respect my boundaries. They all seem to think I’m a doormat. Telling me what to do, what to think, finishing my sentences for me. You say the word “wedding” and the vultures all swoop in. You have to do these things in this order. You have to pay thousands of dollars for this and that – never mind whether you want or need it. You have to drown all your guests in insanely expensive food and booze. You have to invite everyone I want to have a party with; if you don’t I’m going to guilt trip you. By the time we’re done talking you’ll fear that if you don’t to what I say, no one in either of our families will ever want to speak to you again, because “they’ll be hurt.” Suddenly it’s not our wedding anymore. It’s the industry’s wedding first, our parents’ second, and if we’re lucky then maybe we’ll get to make our own decisions about what to wear.

(To be fair, something just came up for Fox’s family that would stress anyone out; as my mom said, Fox’s mom usually isn’t like this. She’ll probably be more reasonable once she’s had some time to breathe.)

It got to the point today where I felt like I couldn’t do anything – not because I’m incompetent (I’m perfectly competent, thank you), but because it’s not allowed. Fox is here, so he became the embodiment of some hostile authority. If I left the bedroom to get something, if I became visible to him, if I even made a sound, he would be there. Questioning me. Judging me. Making me question myself and feel guilty. I felt like I had no privacy. I was under a microscope. And all I wanted was permission to live.

But if I wanted to live, I’d have to do so on his terms. And whatever they were (I didn’t know) they didn’t leave much room for me to express myself. I was lucky they allowed me to breathe!

All I could do was sit on the bed and cry. (“The” bed. It used to be my bed! But now I don’t even have that to myself!) I texted Banji; she did her best to assure me that I’m loved and that she’s here for me, but I couldn’t internalize her kind words. I had an overwhelming urge to hurt myself; finally I gave in by scratching my arm with my fingernails. All it does is leave a slight mark that fades within a few hours; it doesn’t even break the skin. The pain rushed up and calmed me down to an almost alarming degree. While I was crying it felt like I was struggling against something, fighting for my right to live. But the pain, the calm, it subdued me. It suppressed me. It told me I didn’t need to fight, there was no point to fighting, I should just accept my fate. And then I fell asleep.

The real Fox came in, put a blanket over me, kissed my hand, and left so I could rest. When we talked later he expressed that he’d wanted to come in and comfort me while I was crying. But I had said I wanted to be alone.

He respected my boundaries.

I don’t know what to do. I want to keep planning the wedding but I’m afraid that, the way my mind has been working and with the horribleness it’s bringing out in people, it just isn’t safe right now.