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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

#38: Cold Feet (part 3): The end of an epic trilogy?

My wedding is in 4 weeks. I should be feeling excited. I should be tying all of the details together. I should be giddy. Or at least stressing out over logistical issues. But no. I feel none of those things. It's just me and my cold feet. Again.

Last week I had been reading through my bloggy friends' writing and noticed how in love they all seemed to be. They were very "I'm marrying my best friend" and all. Which is perfectly perfect. But I don't consider Brian my best friend, although he sometimes feels like the other half of my brain. And we did not have a magical, easy first year of dating. There was no steamy romance. There was no puppy love or endearing nervousness. At the time it was just us and our baggage - frustrated, confused, and ambivalent. (Well, that was me, anyway.)

So when one blogger commented on A Practical Wedding  last week about how, in times of marital trouble, you should recall the fond memories of the early part of your love, I panicked. Because for me, there were very few fond memories. And when another blogger commented that you can't rekindle something that was never there in the first place, I nearly crapped my pants. Because what if the love that Brian and I have was never strong to begin with, even after these 5 years of being together? And oh my gosh, we're getting married in 4 weeks -- ahhh!!! (Cue panic attack.)

And then I had a few saving thoughts:

  • Our love story is not like anyone else's. It's doesn't follow the typical Hollywood storyline arc of exciting beginning, steady rise, major challenge, romantic apology, and happily ever after. That's just not us. BUT. Maybe there's not just one way to tell a good story.
  • Maybe contentment makes me nervous. I'm afraid to be happy and trusting and optimistic because I was all of those things in my last relationship, and quite frankly, it put me through hell. That relationship was like a thriving village that was burned to ashes. So I guess it's not happiness that makes me nervous - it's the end of happiness that scares me. And after starting a blog about being brave, there's no way I'll let myself jump ship out of fear. Because if I choose retreat instead of resilience, all my pain will have been in vain. Insane. And lame. (See -- I'm so emotional I've started a spontaneous bout of freestyle rap.)
  • I was reminded by my fiance that whenever I have a great idea or sincere passion, my anxiety and fear talk me out of it. So I have to wonder - how much of my doubt is just me, and how much of it is appropriate for my relationship with Brian? My Mom says I was born a nervous baby. And maybe I still am.  
  • The onset of cold feet is always when I am alone with my brain, my fear, my imagination, and my unanswerable questions. When I am with Brian I never feel as if something is missing, nor do I experience the sinking feeling that I'm making a huge mistake. It's time alone with my paranoia (too much time to think, says this brilliant blogger) that is the likely culprit here. 
    • Screw having my husband be my one and only best friend! You know what? I have best friends. But now I want and need a co-pilot. I want someone to share my journey with. I need a partner who can be trusted and relied on- someone who keeps his word. It's got to be someone who I like a whole bunch; someone who "gets me" and makes me laugh. I need someone who will offer to fly the plane when I need to get up for a pee break. Not a best friend, not a Prince Charming. A co-pilot. Yeah, I think like that.  

      So. I'm pretty happy with the bullet points above. And maybe this post on cold feet is the end to an epic trilogy. OR maybe I'll pull a Star Wars and simply come back several years from now with 3 more episodes. Who knows? But all I can say is that wedding is still on. And I'm growing my balls ever so carefully and slowly, all in the name of this crazy little thing called Love. Because as I learned from one blogger a few weeks back, if we walk in the direction of our fears who knows what kind of incredible life we could live.


      1. Babe, I love your blog. It's the only response I have.

        I think freaking out that you're feeling different is really normal. This part of the journey is all about the *expectations* and the platitudes. I like your analogy of co-pilot so much better.

        You want to share your journey with Brian. That's the big thing.

      2. LOVE the co-pilot thing! Ben has become one of my best friends. But more than anything he is my co-pilot :)

      3. Thanks for the support, Moz and Steph! Actually, I got the co-pilot analogy from a movie I watched this weekend called "Up In The Air" with George Clooney. And you guessed it - it's about a man who is afraid to commit! I love the co-pilot idea. It feels safe and fun.

        I really do believe that God brings me little gifts here and there, right when I need a surge of courage. I had never heard of the movie before, and then Brian made me watch it on the very weekend that my cold feet were creeping back in. Imagine that!

      4. Very true... and Ms. Loaf knows her stuff.

        I think the tough part about blogging is that sometimes we get post trends- someone writes about a topic and it sets the other authors off to write their own responses. And other times, it makes us feel like we need to be doing, feeling, thinking the same thing. Kind of strange since I think what draws us here is the fact that we can/want to use our own voice and have our own experiences.

        I do consider my fiance my best friend, but there are some things you can't do/say/feel with your best of best friend. And that's okay too. I think as long as we're mindful of our wedding, our partner and our honor our love in a way that works best for us, then we're on the right track.

        I think I'm also afraid to be happy and trusting- b/c to do so you have to be vulnerable and that's scary as heck! But Josh is worth being scared and I think that's what makes me nervous. Love is a wild and crazy thing... it's always fun and interesting to hear/read the experiences of others through this journey.

      5. Hi Angie. Josh sounds awesome from the little bit that I've read on your blog.

        I understand that there's nothing wrong with having a totally different experience and opinion from smart blogging women. (And actually, I don't see a single thing wrong with your husband being one of your best friends.) The real issue for me is that I always had this expectation that the guy I'd end up with would be my best friend and so much like me. Turns out we're similar in our values but WAY different in every other sense. It makes me think of how easy and carefree (and okay fine, unhealthy) it was back when I was with a guy who was basically me with a penis. Ha. ;)

      6. Hugs and high fives. Only we ourselves inside of the relationship can say for sure whether it's good or not, and sometimes that can only be said with all certainty years later. Yes, that's scary. But it's worth it. You have really excellent points; while best friend and just like each other can be easier, it can also be, as you said, unhealthy, and sometimes we need someone who gets us, loves us, and balances us. Similar values is the most important thing.

        You are brave, just for looking at it head on and admitting that what makes your relationship turn is different than what makes someone else's.

      7. It is absolutely true that there is not just one way to tell a love story.

        I was very-rocky-best-friends (very close, definitely my closest friend, but we constantly got into spats and questioned our friendship because deep down we liked each other but one or the other could never admit it) with my fiance for EIGHT YEARS before we even got together. Not even an "intervention" by some well-meaning friends could get us together before then.

        I can't look back on our friendship and say "oh that was so sweet" because while it was in parts, it also wasn't, since we would spend entire months fighting all the time.

        Because of that history, we never had an exciting "early love" - we had "hey I like you", "I like you too, that's why I moved to Taiwan", "I figured as much" moment, and we were together, but having been friends for so long, "being together" was basically just like when we'd been best friends, except this time there were more benefits (ka-ching!). But there were never any candlelit dinners, or long walks in the park, or moony gazes or lovelorn sighs or emotional poems or surprising dates or the excitement of first holding hands or first kissing or whatever (we'd had a whole fling before we got together so we'd already kissed - it was nothing new).

        So I do look back on these 3 years with fondness, but not the charged, toe-curling emotional excitement that many people associate with new love. Because it wasn't new love: it was old love, transformed into a different kind of love.

        I guess, I'm writing this to let you know that you're not alone in having a story that doesn't fit a Hollywood rom-com or romantic drama. There are 6 billion people in the world, most of whom marry, so that's about 2 billion love stories, and they're all different, and I'd say that very few of them are anything like the movies.

      8. Kim, your blog is attracting some really cool women :)

        Also, Up in the Air is a great movie.

        I love that Brian talks you down from the ledge. That's pretty awesome.

      9. @ Jolynn: "Only we ourselves inside of the relationship can say for sure whether it's good or not, and sometimes that can only be said with all certainty years later. Yes, that's scary. But it's worth it."

        Yes, girl. So very very true.

        I'm an extremely impressionable person so I think my second guessing comes from knowing that on the *outside* my relationship looks a little funky. (Which I suppose is a lot better than it looking perfect on the outside but being crappy otherwise.)

        Thanks for your thoughts!

      10. @ Jenna - Thank you so much for sharing! That actually DID make me feel a bit better. And I like this:

        "So I do look back on these 3 years with fondness, but not the charged, toe-curling emotional excitement that many people associate with new love. Because it wasn't new love: it was old love, transformed into a different kind of love."

        And you're right about the world's 2 billion love stories all being different and not Hollywood. I don't wish ours were more Hollywood per se, but I like the *simplicity* of Hollywood romance - there's no second guessing or red flags or vulnerability. And I suppose this simplicity is what I miss about the love stories of my youth. Now it's time for grown-up love, which is more frightening but also more fulfilling, so they say.

        Thanks again for sharing your colorful love story!

      11. @ Moz - Yes, there sure are some smart lady bloggers showing up around here! You're one of them. (Minus the blogging bit. Unless you have one and you're holding out on me!)

        And yes, Brian talks me down off the ledge all the time. The cool thing is that he never gets angry. He just tells it like it is. (Now why the heck do I have cold feet about him again??)

      12. I'm the one (or one of the ones) who wrote that you can't rekindle something that was never there in the first place.

        I just thought you would like to know that although I am madly in love with my fiance, he is not my best friend. He is, however, my other half. Don't get me wrong, we argue. In fact, we just had a fight today at lunch. We fought because he got pissy with me when I was horrified at something he thought was funny and kind of cool. Then he said something that hurt my feelings, and I cried. He got all stony and lock-jawed. Then we talked, and he told me that he talks to me like he would a sibling. I said in my most pitiful post-weepy voice, "don't talk to me like that anymore. It hurts my feelings." He promised to try. So, just so you know, it's not all roses and rainbows. But if I have to go through life having regular tiffs with someone, I want it to be him.

        You have to do what is right for you. If you feel right with Brian and know that even though you argue, you are in love with him and he is in love with you, then you are doing what you should do. But if you don't feel in love with Brian, and you are uncomfortable with the amount and manner in which you fight (or have sex -- that's really important, too), that's a different story. If your relationship feels hard now, is it a level of hard that you will be comfortable with over the long haul?

        If you are feeling true cold feet, think long and hard about jumping into the pool. It is much, much, much easier (although still painful) to postpone a wedding to give yourself the time you need to think than it is to unravel a marriage after the fact. Your family, your friends (IRL and bloggy world) will all understand and forgive. And we'll even read and comment and email you just the same.


      13. Hi, Sarah. Yup, you were one of the ones. ;) I actually did feel comforted by your story about lunch, though. That's SO us, too. So thanks for sharing.

        I don't feel uncomfortable with the amount that we fight. I did for a long time, but that's mostly because I come from a non-confrontational, hold-it-all-in-until-your-head-pops-off kind of family, so any kind of argument whatsoever seemed like a red flag! I'm learning.

        The real problem is that I have tons and tons of fear and self-doubt. Like, all the time. And about lots of things, not just marriage. (Hence my obsession with balls and the whole Brave Bride thing.)

        But I appreciate your thoughts, especially since you've been through this kind of situation. I'm going to think more about the things you wrote in the last 2 paragraphs, but I'm not sure if that will make me more brave or more fearful, to be honest. Hmm. (Sometimes my problem is too much analysis!)

        Dang, this blog sure is turning into a little soap opera. Didn't see that coming.

        NOTE: Brian knows about pretty much all of the issues I've written about in my 3 Cold Feet posts. Just so y'all know. Because if he stumbled upon this blog and for the first time discovered the shocking mess that's in my head, THAT would be a soap opera.

      14. Disclaimer: I also consider Isaiah to be my very best friend...but we were friends before we dated, so that has a lot to do with it.

        Just my opinion, take it for what it's worth: I think that when most people say "best friend" referring to their partner, they're saying all of the following in two words:

        1. I can be around this person all of the time and only want to physically harm them once in a while.

        2. I can be open and honest with this person, tell them about everything I'm feeling and thinking and it'll at least be met with effort.

        3. I feel comfort and safety with this person, that they never TRY to hurt me.

        Meg {Practical Wedding, Meg} wrote a post recently mentioning good YEARS and bad YEARS. If this is a bad "YEAR" or a bad time in general, don't get caught up in your head about it, that's what I do too.

        I recently had my wisdom teeth out and I had a CRAZY amount of alone time. Like I didn't go outside for a few days. So in all of that time to think and all that..I started thinking about the last time I felt surprised or anything...and I way exaggerated everything in my head. If THAT's what's going on, then by all means, get out of that head, girlfriend!

        If not, that's another story. You're not doing Brian any favors if you're having serious cold-feet, you know? I hope that everything gets a little clearer, but in general, without knowing exactly what you're feeling, I think cold-feet are kind of a normal thing to go through, ESPECIALLY if you have had TOO MUCH time to think, there is such a thing.

      15. Lizzie, you are so right on. TOO MUCH time to think!

        I just reviewed all 3 cold feet posts in an attempt to recall what was happening in my life at the time each was written. The first one was written when I had an innocent little crush on someone, hehe. The second one happened when Brian went to bed and I was up all night wired because of too much chocolate. The third was written after Brian had been away for the weekend at his bachelor party.

        So...this leads me to believe that you have a very strong argument!

        Also, according to your 3-part definition above, I'm totally marrying my best friend. ;)

      16. ...And I should add:

        When I'm face to face with him and really in the moment, I never question my love or commitment. I never have a sinking feeling that this is a mistake.

        But when I'm alone with just my brain and my bad memories and my unanswerable questions, THAT'S when I get cold feet. Interesting.

        Wow, this is kind of like I'm watching a mystery unravel and become unveiled right before my eyes. Hats off to you, Lizzie. And thank you. :)


      Babbling about weddings is so much more fun when people babble back. :)

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