I was sitting at the V Shops in Coconut Grove waiting for my coffee (the bulletproof – it’s really good. I highly recommend it) and I looked over to see a window full of wedding dresses. My first reaction was to picture myself in the strapless one second to the front. Of course, I pictured myself as a young, thin, perfectly toned woman feeling loved and appreciated. And that’s exactly how I felt on my wedding day. Loved and appreciated. I felt like I had reached the pinnacle. I had done it. I had found a wonderful man and gotten married. My life’s purpose had been fulfilled. At least it had according to the message I had absorbed from the fairy tales, movies and advertisements I grew up consuming.
The problem is, I was 28 and the entire plan I had had for my life was to get married. It wasn’t even to have kids. It was just to get married. Logically I knew that life would probably continue on as it had before the wedding. We had lived together for six years before getting married. I’m not sure what I thought would change. But emotionally I believed I was stepping into Happily Ever After.
Instead, I just got after. Thank goodness I got after with a wonderful man, but all of my problems did not magically disappear. We did not spend the rest of our days dancing and staring into each other’s eyes. The laundry still needed to be done. I still had to go to work.
I started scrambling. Why was I so unhappy? This was supposed to fix me. I was supposed to feel worthy. Marriage was supposed to validate my existence and it hadn’t. It couldn’t. He couldn’t. Looking back now I can see that the day I got married was the day I started to grow up.
I wish I had gotten married even earlier so that I could have found out that it isn’t the panacea I had built it into. And neither has any achievement since then been. Not getting a computer science degree. Not producing a short film. Not having a film in the Miami Film Festival. Not opening my own improv theater. Not buying a home. Not even getting my yoga teaching certification. Each of these has given me a momentary boost. But none of them has made me feel any more worthy. And I always wake up sooner or later to laundry and uncertainty.
Our 19th anniversary is coming up and I can tell you this about marriage. It’s wonderful. And awful, and fun, and challenging. It will push you to your limits. It will make you be a better person. It will hold a mirror up to your insecurities every single day and if you’re lucky, that mirror will give you a hug and tell you it’s ok and forgive you for losing it. But it won’t fix you.
So what will? The older I get, the more I realize that nothing is going to fix me. And do you know what? That’s sort of liberating. If nothing is going to fix me, then I can relax! What the heck have I been killing myself for all this time? What do I have to prove? I don’t need to justify my existence. I exist! I’m here. That’s justification enough.
Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to wake up every day and see what life brings me. I’m going to try to be kind to people. I’m definitely going to start volunteering. My pursuit of success has not produced the results I’ve been looking for. I’m ready to give up on the guarantee. I’m ready to not know what comes next.