I had been hanging on to it for years. Fifteen years to be exact. I had attempted to sell it within the first couple years of being single when I needed the extra cash. I managed to sell off my tiara and veil but I could never seem to get rid of my wedding dress. Every time I moved apartments I would constantly have to move it along with me from place to place. Stuffed in a green garbage bag with years of memories and dust gathered over time. A constant reminder of yet another failure.
Over the past couple weeks, work hasn’t been all that busy. So with that, alongside the fact that the boys no longer live with me and going through a myriad of emotions, I’ve found myself with a whole lot of free time on my hands over the holidays. A dangerous combination unless you purposefully keep yourself occupied. Which is what I did. I have literally gone through every room in my home and de-cluttered, organized, thrown out and donated my weight in “stuff.” Including, my wedding dress.
I had finally decided it was time to part with it. Most women put it away for safe keeping. For the memories or in hopes that if they have a daughter that she would want to wear it on her own special day. But, as I sat there looking at my own dress, stuffed in a garbage bag, I realized that, number one, neither of those things were happening. Number two, I couldn’t sell it and I definitely didn’t want to keep looking at it as a constant reminder of how my life had turned out. And to be honest, in that moment I was feeling a bit like my dress; old, crumpled up, dusty and tossed to the side. After fifteen years, it was time to go.
I ended up donating it to the local Community Care centre that I myself had used a few times over the years when I needed to. A place that helps a lot of people in need that otherwise wouldn’t have a place to go for groceries, clothes or other supplies. (A great place to donate if you’re thinking about it.) I figured perhaps the next gal that wore it on her big day would have better luck in her marriage than I did. And then I asked myself, what would I even tell her if I could? What words of wisdom would I give a young woman just starting out on her marriage journey? What sort of things do I wish I would have known myself before jumping into the bonds of holy matrimony? What types of things make or break a relationship?
To The Woman Wearing My Wedding Dress:
I want to start off by saying congratulations! I hope you enjoyed your big day. But even more so, I hope that you didn’t let the hustle and bustle and the pretty colours distract you from what is more important…all that is ahead of you. I know it’s so easy to get caught up in the butterflies of your wedding day and to lose sight of the marriage itself. The honeymoon phase will only last a short season, so enjoy it while you can because then the real work begins.
Remember when you were a little girl and you dreamed of your Prince Charming coming to rescue you and live happily ever after? Well, it’s nothing like that. But you can find the beauty in it. You’ll have to search for it; work for it. Tucked away in between the hard times and the fights and words you can’t take back and the silent treatments (try not to give him too many of those if you can help it).
And speaking of “him”, you wanna know a secret? He’s actually not Prince Charming at all. Not even close. And, when you think about it, that’s a lot of pressure to put on one guy. He’s a human being, just like you, with flaws and sins and mistakes and those annoying little habits. Oh so many. Try to cut him some slack. Just like you will want him to cut you the same amount of slack for your many sins and mistakes. Forgiveness is a two way street. And once the dust settles and you’ve talked it over (always talk. Never stop talking with each other), and all has been forgiven, leave it where it belongs, in the past, with all the other forgiven stuff. I know you’ll want to bring them all back up again. I know you’ll have an entire storage closet in your mind of every little thing he’s said and done, ready to be thrown back at him in the heat of the moment. I know biting your tongue will be the last thing you want to do, but try. Try to let grace win over fear and anger.
I know it’s so hard to let another person in to that part of you. That softer, more vulnerable side that you hate showing to people. I know it’s hard to be gentle and kind towards someone that could hurt you so deeply. I know you want to be tough and do everything yourself. I know you’ll want to act like you don’t care, even though you do. But if you never take a chance and let those walls down, then you can never truly become one with him. And if you are never truly one with him, it will be that much easier to fall apart.
In a world that over shares everything with everybody and invites cameras into the inner courts of their relationships, keep yours sacred. Be each others safe place. This is where true intimacy is. A place you can run to rather than run away from. He is your best friend. Never keep secrets from one another. Tell each other everything. Defend each other and your relationship at all costs. Ask him what he thinks. Let him take the lead…most of the time 😉
I hope you have more success than I did. I hope you take to heart these things that I wish I knew back then. I’ve learned a lot of things the hard way. Boy, do I get it now. And while there may not be a second chance for me, I’m routing for you all the way. I hope you make it to your 50th wedding anniversary. I hope you can still smile at him after all those years and still recognize the boy you knew way back when. I hope you fight, cry, live and love each other in such a way that makes even the grandest love cynic, green with envy. That even in this cynical, cold, giving up type of world, love can still win.