Monday, October 29, 2007

Happiness is Psychoanalysis

This morning's topic: Weddings, Engagement, et al.

Since I became engaged, it hasn't all been bliss and budding roses. The first words out of my mouth when DSF presented me with the ring and proposal were, "It's so pretty!" but that wasn't the whole story. I was critical of the ring, even though I was quick to accept and put it on my finger. I felt happy that such a kind man would want to marry me but ...


Other things along the way have given me pause and made me question what the hell is going on here. Marriage? Me? Child of multiple times divorced parents? Me, who hates working full-time but doesn't really want to groom herself to be a stay-at-home mom either? Me, who, at this moment would rather hop on a plane to anywhere, just because that's what I like to do, rather than pick out curtain colors for my living room? Oh and by the way, I don't even feel guilty about not wanting to be a homebody - so now how are they going to keep me down if I don't even feel guilty??? Huh??!!

And what the hell is marriage anyway? I felt like an outsider to marriage. Could someone like me, from a "broken home" really be successful at this? I hate to stay in once place, physically even, so how could I stay in a marriage? The slightest things make me feel like a caged animal so... you get the point.

And what about all the other nuts in my life? I have something like five parents depending on your interpretation. It took me until this weekend to realize I will never have healthy normal relationships with them. If I can't do that, how can I have a marriage?

But I beat a dead horse. Clearly, I have doubts, issues, baggage, etc etc etc.

So, where is all of this going?

Well, for once I feel like some resolution is coming my way. Some answers even. An open discussion at the very least. Engagement and all of the things f'd up things that come with it like a sense of loss, fear, anger and confusion are ... dare I say... NORMAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Where did I get hold of such scandalous information? Well, friends. Ah thank God himself for friends. Lord knows my family hasn't stepped up to help in this discussion.

"The Conscious Bride" is a book I haven't yet read but a mere hour or so reading articles on the website, has already addressed a number of emotions I've been feeling FOR A YEAR. How can something this obvious have escaped me for so long?

One of the ways the site breaks down all of these issues is to talk about the core group of people involved in the wedding and the emotional transition that each of them has to go through during the marriage process: Bride, Groom and their respective Mothers.

Here are a few of my favorite excerpts:

For the Mother of the Bride:
Furthermore, becoming conscious means that you recognize that not only is the wedding clearly a rite of passage for the bride, but it is also a rite of passage for the mother of bride. A daughter's wedding is often a time when the mother faces her own mortality and realizes that she is moving into the next phase of life. Jungian psychoanalyst Marion Woodman talks about the three phases of a woman's life: maiden, mother, elder. When a woman marries, she is letting go of her identity of maiden and moving toward mother. When a daughter marries, her mother is letting go of her identity of mother and moving toward the next identity. How do these statements resonate for you? Are you aware that you may be moving into a new phase of life? What feelings does this elicit?

For the Mother of the Groom:
The truth is that embedded in this great joy of human life there is also an element of loss. Your son has found a woman with whom he feels called to share the partnership of marriage. He has found a woman who meets his heart's desires and challenges him to reach his potential as a man. Even if the reasons are not readily apparent to you (and they can easily become clouded by your own feelings), the fact remains that your son is making the choice to marry. And with this choice comes the realization that there is another woman in his life that will assume number one priority. On some level, your son is separating from you so that he can transfer his allegiance onto his wife. On some level, he is saying goodbye. And, on some level, you are feeling this pain and sense of loss around this separation.

For the Bride:
Which brings me to my second point: beware of the tendency to focus your anxious energy on your fiancé. Oh, how easy it is to make your fiancé the target of all of your uncomfortable feelings. After all, he¹s the reason why you¹re in this predicament (engaged) to be begin with! When you find yourself focusing most of your negative thoughts on your partner, you know that he¹s become the target, the projection screen, for your own grief and fear. Again, take a moment to step back, name what¹s happening ­ "I¹m projecting onto my fiancé again" ­ and pull out your journal, call a friend, or write a post ­ anything to pull the energy off of your partner and onto yourself.

For the Bride:
A rite of passage also involves fear. For many women, the sadness about leaving a singlehood identity is dwarfed by the fear of marriage and commitment. Questions circle their mind like plane waiting to land. Questions like: What does it means to be married? What in the world is a wife these days? What if my husband cheats on me? What if I cheat on him? What if it doesn't work out and we divorce? But these fears have no place to land because our culture does not encourage women to feel fear before their wedding? So what happens? The fear is suppressed, she distracts through the planning, and she finds herself spinning into anxiety a few days before, or on, her wedding day. She doesn't know that fear is a normal and necessary part of her transition. How could she not feel terrified when she's stepping into the unknown?

I still have quite a bit more reading to do. There is, however, a sense of relief starting to spread over those strange internal brews I've been experiencing alone and in reaction to others, who themselves, have been transitioning through their own emotions. I've had about fifty zillion AHA moments in just a few short pages.... No wonder this process is so painful - everybody is experiencing a different loss at the same time.

Ahhh sweet relief and a calm belly......... well, until the next transition anyway...

Marcel DuChamp: Le Passage de la Vierge à la Mariée

Life, it's all about managing the transitions...

No comments: