It doesn’t make sense. I spent my single years enjoying life while simultaneously praying for a spouse, but within the first few months of getting engaged, at times, I have felt panic and fear regarding my upcoming marriage. What is that about?
When we first got engaged I felt this swift bout of panic enter my bloodstream. Like an echo through a dark cave my mind spoke to me: What am I doing? Do I even want to be married? I’m having so much fun being single and traveling the world, why would I give that up? What if I’m not ready? I think I need more time…no, I know I need more time, right? Honestly, I mean honestly, do I want to be married for the rest of my life, life, life…
And what about him? My cave echo continued, does this mean I’m freaking out because I’m going to marry the wrong man? OMG I’m going to marry the wrong man and we’ll be stuck forever because I don’t believe in divorce! Isn’t it about his job? Are we going to be poor forever and lose everything? What if I’m just delusional now and think he’s great then when we get married he’ll flip the crazy switch and make life hell. What if he cheats? He’s not a cheater but what if? Everyone in my close circle loves him so it’s not just my opinion and they would tell me if I’m making a mistake, right? They’ve told me before but they haven’t said anything negative about him. Does that mean he’s ok? How do I know if he’s the FOREVER one?!
After what seemed like forever the craziness shifted in an entirely new direction. It can’t be him. He’s amazing. Why am I blaming him? Is this what I do? Is this how I think when I’m anxious? I point the fingers at others as a form of self-preservation to avoid looking at myself as the problem? Is my thought process, “When I have more questions than answers I might as well go nowhere as quickly as possibly and blame someone else?” That’s not fair to him. That ain’t right. I’m not right. OMG. I’m doomed. I’m a horrible person and I’m a horrible person who blames others for her problems and freaks out. Why am I even getting married if this is who I am. What is going on?!?!
Why am I anxious about actually getting married after desiring it for so long?
I took a hot shower and thought about it all because hot showers are obviously the best time to reflect on life. I do some of my best thinking in the shower. Think about it: the drops of water massage knotted muscles, the heat slows down the intensity of my anxious heart beat, and the steam opens my nostrils so I can focus on breathing deeply to a methodic rhythm. A hot shower is like having a spa day every day and it allows my body to reach a state of relaxation. When I’m relaxed, I think clearly. When I think clearly, I find solutions to life’s difficult questions, like “why am I anxious about actually getting married after desiring it for so long?” The answer was so gentle, so clear, like God’s gentle and soft voice is sometimes. All of the signs and conversations with family and counselors all came together in the quiet retreat of my 5ft bathtub. I’m anxious because I’m grieving the loss of my singleness.
I never really thought about it as a loss. I mean, I’m gaining a fine man who treats my like royalty, what exactly is there to lose? It wasn’t easy to see at first but I get it now. I was losing 33 years of doing my own thing, my own way, in my own time, in my own space, with my own money. I was losing a degree of independence and autonomy – as someone who took great pride in being independent – in exchange for a lifelong partner. It had nothing to do with him and everything to do with me. The death of just me.
There are stages of grief with symptoms that manifest in different ways according to each individual. I learned that one can experience a few or all of them in any order at a given time. I hit denial (what?! I’m engaged? No way! ME?), bargaining (I need more time to be single and roam the world!), anger (how could I feel this way, this isn’t right!), and depression (I’m not worthy of such a wonderful guy), then looped around for a different combination a few more times over the span of a few months until acceptance hit. Wow, what an intense process!
Flashing forward in time, to break things down further, in my Wednesday night class we’re working our way through a book called “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth” by John C. Maxwell. In session six we learned about the “Law of Trade-Offs: You Have to Give up to Grow up.” The freakout was a few short months ago, but working through this section gave me deeper insight into what happened. Questions such as, “Will I go through this change or will I grow through this change?” and key thoughts like, “The loss of trade-offs is usually felt before the win. When you and I come up to a decision, we’ve got to trade something for what we’re going to get” stuck to me. I was giving up my selfish ways to grow into a team with my future hubby. I had a choice: go through the transition and never learn a thing, kicking and screaming, and freaking out along the way or I could examine my feelings, think, pray, ask for guidance and grow into a more settled, mature, complete human being. Once the dust settled into this new level of understanding about my marital situation I started to feel more at confident with my upcoming nuptials and more at peace with the idea of life not just being about me anymore.
I learned that it takes courage to rely on God’s plan for your life and to see that you are with someone for a reason. Once I let go of fear and embraced the future, I was able to enjoy the present. Now let’s think about it with a mature perspective: I have a companion to travel the globe with, talk about my day, sit on the couch with…someone who cares about my well-being and who I can care for in return. As a matter of fact, we just picked up our marriage license on Friday so we are full-speed ahead to marriage-town!
So why let should I let fear or anxiety get in the way of growth’s crazy and beautiful design? I can choose to freak out or I can choose to grow. I chose growth and I am genuinely excited that I’m going to be a married woman at the end of the month…Cheers to the future!