I’ve been at it again. Cleaning out my house. My therapy. And also, kind of a strategic get out of jail plan. In the next year to 18 months I plan to move, and sell or rent out my home — the former hoarder’s house to which I fled upon the demise of my marital bliss — just one half step ahead of the hot flaming lava chasing me from my volcano of debt. Dramatic, I know.
So might as well start the pre-listing clean out now, right? Plus the kids are not here and I need to alter my surroundings. Again. And, it’s freee entertainment, which is a necessity right now, the free part.
I needed to seriously clean. Things are dirty. Even though I always felt like I was cleaning all the time, I wasn’t really cleaning. I was straightening up and clearing and cleaning around things — and those people I made — and dogs — but I never had all the stuff out of the way long enough to get to the really deep cleaning.
We had downsized already when we moved here and got rid of around 2/3 of our possessions. Many other belongings were removed along the way as I realized I still didn’t have room for them. My parents got my formal sofa and chairs (and I got rid of their outdated stuff) some other casual furniture purchased for the house just didn’t fit. I get rid of things all the time. But as the kids grew in our modestly sized home, we have been stepping over each other. Literally. We’re all relatively and objectively tall and have large feet and long legs. We take up a lot of room. And the sprints to be the first one to get the only bathroom in the house were getting serious, and a bit dangerous. But now the kids are gone for a while — a college thing — to be discussed in another post — it’s time for me to, as a good friend I recently reconnected with said, “reset.”
“Reset.” I like that.
As part of my clean out, clean up, and just clean, I went through an ottoman that doubles for “storage” of our miscellaneous electronics. I’d throw any cord I couldn’t identify, or those I could identify but did not need at that moment, old phones, parts of video games, remote controls, etc. in there. Some of these electronics were even in baggies to keep them from tangling around each other. I was proud of that and that at least most of the stuff in there was part of the same category. But I hadn’t taken out everything in years.
And at the bottom of the cords, games, adapters, phones, remote controls, and extension cords, there was a cassette tape. (For those of you who are not familiar, cassettes were used to store audio information before CDs, and CDS were and are used when music cannot be accessed from phones, or there is an absence of wifi or available data.)
This particular cassette was an audio recording of my wedding.
The church where I married recorded everything that happened there. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I assume this was to preserve sermons and music. In my case it preserved our voices stating our now defunct wedding vows, along with some really good music (I had a brass quartet at my wedding. It was beautiful . . . but I digress) and it recorded the reading of probably the saddest poem ever read at a wedding, “The People Who Never Say Goodbye.” This was a cry for help. As I’ve said before, ladies, your job as bridesmaids is not limited to showers, bachelorette parties, and shopping for dresses. Your job is to read the room, the bride, and call the whole thing off if necessary. Almost a Runaway Bride
My first thought was just to throw the cassette away, like my husband did with our vows. No fuss, no muss, no pomp, no circumstance. A Twitter friend suggested that I burn the tape. I’m no stranger to the burn. This ain’t my first rodeo. My Wedding Album. In response I joked that if I was a guy I’d whip “it” out and pee on it. The same Twitter friend reminded me — “You could squat.” Smiling about that, I put it on the table while I finished going through the electronics. Maybe, I thought, I’ll just listen to the music.
My next find wasn’t really a find.
I knew they were there. While cleaning out the medicine cabinet, I saw my old friends Mr. Xanax and Ms. Ambien – relics of my clinical major depression, anxiety, and insomnia following that pesky time when my husband of many years and father of our many children broke up with me. The pills were expired of course, but I kept them. Weird, because I never really liked them much and used them very sparingly. If I took a sleeping pill I couldn’t properly wake up in the morning. If I took a Xanax I was just a little bit off, out of it. But I tell ya, this was very helpful in certain situations. Very helpful indeed. It was my pharmaceutical prophylactic in difficult, awkward, or painful situations. Sharing Celebrations .
Still, having the pills in the house gave me comfort. I think I kept these old meds, you know, just in case . . .
After the scrub down and disinfecting of the cabinet (you’d be amazed at the mess that old razors for four girls leave), I found that the added space in my cabinet was far more calming than presence the old pills.
So — I chucked them. I brought them downstairs, opened the bottles, destroyed the labels and trashed the pills so no one could find them and sell them (it would be wrong for someone else to profit from my misery). And then? I casually dropped the wedding cassette — the audio proof of the “till death do us part” fallacy — in the same trash bin. I don’t want any of those particular reminders of the good, the bad, the ugly or the pharmaceutically numbed in my house.
And that was that.
There has been a slight shift in the universe. Did you feel it?
Just Me With . . . space, and some peace. Oh, and I found the remote control to the actual TV! Now I don’t have to get up to change the input from cable to Netflix. Not too shabby. Plus, I already own a CD of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and am blessed to have access to a classical music station, wifi, and a smartphone. There is no reason to listen to a cassette recording of my wedding music. Nope. No reason at all.
Plus, one of the brass players was this asshole, I Don’t Go to Weddings.
My son’s graduation is over. It was the first big celebration that I had to share with my Ex-Husband. See The Unspoken Pain of Sharing Celebrations. I made it through. And by that I mean I stayed off the six o’clock news. In the weeks before the graduation, during the graduation and after the graduation some bad things happened, and some very good things happened. I’m too close to it right now to write about it. But in the midst of all the brouhaha, of the visiting relatives, of the planning and anxiety, the tears (some mine, some not), something quite unexpected happened . . .
I got rid of my wedding gown.
My sister was staying at our parents’ home. When she left she cleaned the old bedroom — her old bedroom. She dusted, organized, threw things out, removed bedding and vacuumed — even under the bed. To clean under the bed, she pulled out everything stored there, including an airline cardboard garment box. The box had the logo of the airline, along with my maiden name handwritten on it in black marker.
It was my wedding dress.
Now, I’ve written before about how I have dealt with the mementos of my lengthy but ultimately failed marriage. Wedding Leftovers — What To Do With The Dress and The Wedding Album — Time to Reduce it, Perhaps by Fire. And the gist was that I sold my rings, reduced the number and manner of presentation of my wedding photos, but I kept the wedding gown in a box under a bed at my parents’ house — untouched.
And I’ve also written before about how I moved into a hoarders home and had to clean it, see That Hoarders Smell, and that I’m also trying to clean out my parents’ home, which is too full of stuff. See Goodbye Hoarders. I’m a big believer in getting rid of things. It’s my free therapy. See Craigslist Angel’s. It truly is contrary to my belief system to store something I would never use. So when my sister pulled out my wedding gown to clean under the bed, it suddenly felt kind of stupid to put it back.
I’m supposed to be cleaning out my parents’ house. I shouldn’t be keeping any of my stuff there, I thought.
Rule One of de-cluttering is to get rid of stuff that doesn’t belong to you. My parents shouldn’t be keeping a big box of white dress for me, taking up valuable real estate under the bed.
When I first married I really wanted to keep my dress. My parents, who are still married, had a big church wedding back in the day. My mother looked beautiful.
I like tradition, antiques, old houses, etc. and I totally would have worn my mother’s wedding gown when I got married. But my mother didn’t properly preserve it, it yellowed and she eventually just threw it away. My young self chastised her for this over the years and I swore I would always keep my wedding gown just in case future daughters unknown to me at the time might want to wear it. So after my wedding, I carefully packed away my gown, according to the instructions from a professional. And I left it at my parent’s house. I’ve moved many times over the years but the dress stayed at my parents’ house.
I did have daughters. See Fertile Myrtle. Technically this meant that there was a possibility that one of them might want to wear my dress. But the dress is woefully out of style. I got married when women were still allowed to have straps and sleeves. Still, any dress can be altered, and there is plenty of material to work with. But none of my daughters have any interest right now in vintage clothing, except for Halloween or dress up days at school. Even if they did, call me silly, call me superstitious, but it seems like bad Mojo to marry in a used wedding gown, even heavily altered, from a wedding where the marriage did not last. I’d gotten a lot of suggestions from my earlier post on possible other uses for the gown — dye it black and use it for Halloween, donate it to particular groups that collect gowns, theater groups, etc. But as I looked at the big box with my birth name on it, I was sure of two things:
(1) I need to get it out of my parents’ house; and
(2) I sure as hell didn’t want it in my house.
I also didn’t want to take the time to find a proper home for the dress. I didn’t much care whether or how it was used again. And I was also quite sure that I didn’t want to touch it. I was almost afraid of the damn thing.
It was freaking me out.
So I put it in my car — my beloved car, where I spend way too much time. It is my refuge. See My Very Own Personal Olympic Games. But since my car is my refuge, I didn’t want to leave the gown in there either. Bad Mojo. I didn’t want it to infect the only space I have for me. Then I started to have visions that I would get into a car accident and they would find my bloodied wedding gown in the wreckage — and think I had some connection to it — that I had kept it for sentimental reasons –that I was purposely driving around with my wedding gown because I must still be in love with my Ex-husband and — and NO!
I’ll say it again. The gown was freaking me out.
I’d been doing some Spring cleaning in my own house (free therapy after an emotional time) and had a couple of things I wanted to drop by Goodwill. Goodwill, if you don’t know, is a charitable organization benefiting the disabled which is funded largely by Thrift Stores. (Yeah, I looked it up.) During my move from the marital home I spent a lot of time at Goodwill, giving away many of my possessions. I’ve shopped there, too, finding good buys, especially with furniture and wall decor. So I stopped by my house and grabbed the few other items that I planned to donate and took myself to Goodwill, making a special trip. Had it not been for the gown I would have waited until I had more stuff to drop off, but this had suddenly become quite urgent.
Still, I had some doubts. Consequently, I had a little conversation with myself on the ten minute ride:
Should I take the dress out of the wrapping?
(Why should I? I don’t want to see it.)
But what if I’d hidden money or something valuable or embarrassing in the box?
(But I didn’t. Those pesky photos of my husband and a stripper were never stored there. My boudoir photos I made for my husband during happier times have long since been destroyed.)
What if the wedding dress had yellowed or gotten otherwise ruined?
(Well, then the kind folks at Goodwill will dispose of it for me.)
Shouldn’t I let my daughters see it one time? Maybe try it on?
No. They’ll want to keep it, because they are hoarders-in-training. I can’t even let them know that it was in the car, because they’d have what I would deem as a morbid interest in it. And, it’s my dress, my memories. My kids did not exist when I got married. They have no right to keepsakes of my memories that predate them. I still have some of the wedding photos, that’s enough. If I abided by the reasoning that I must not destroy things related to my relationship with my kids’ father, then it follows that I should have kept the boudoir photos for my kids too, right? Wrong — and ick. Plus, if I saw any of my girls try the gown on, even just for fun, I think I’d have a panic attack and start screaming to the visual representation of my younger self standing in front of me — Run! Run! RUN! See Almost a Runaway Bride. No, I could not handle it. No, no. Did I say no? No.
Plus, when you think about it, my husband wore a rented tuxedo when he married me. He didn’t even keep his wedding attire for more than a day. Why do I have to keep this — thing — forever?
So, without any ceremony or further ado, I pulled around to the back of the Goodwill thrift store and left the box that contained my wedding gown on the concrete slab.
And that, as they say, was that.
And you know? I feel really good about it.
One less thing in my parents’ house, one less item from my marriage that I have to think about or make room for.
I have lightened my load. The dress wasn’t even my house yet it still haunted me. Just being in close proximity to the box that contained it led to irrational thoughts. It needed to go. I’m sure at one point one of my kids will ask where my gown is. I’ll simply say that I got rid of it, just like my mother had. If my girls marry, they can choose their own dresses, without resurrecting my vintage error in judgment.
As my oldest child is moving on to his next stage in life, preparing to leave the nest, it seemed like a good time clean up some of my old stuff. It was time to grow up and stop storing items I can’t even look at under a twin bed at my parents’ house.
So I’m good with it. So good.
Just Me With . . . no wedding gown, not anymore.
I can’t help but wonder how much it’ll go for in the store, it sure cost me plenty, in more ways than one.
A while back I wrote a post entitled, “Wedding Leftovers” where I discussed what to do with the remnants of a failed marriage. I concluded that I’d keep the wedding pictures.
But . . .
Today I am consumed with the idea of destroying some— just some — of my wedding photos. Is it a coincidence that this feeling comes on the eve of what would have been my wedding anniversary — the first one since my Ex-husband has remarried? I think not, but there’s a slight possibility I’m fooling myself. It just suddenly feels a bit icky to keep all this stuff in its original form.
I have children as a result of that now defunct union. I think that in later years they will enjoy seeing the pictures from their parents’ wedding. Consequently, I do not feel comfortable destroying — all of them. Anyway, I looked good that day. My best friend looked good that day, too. And, from a distance, my Ex-husband looked good, too. So yes, I’ll keep some.
But I do feel comfortable taking the pictures out of the leather-bound book and velvet cover. I don’t need to preserve the formal display anymore.
I also feel comfortable destroying the picture of my father with my then husband’s sister, a picture that was included in the album only because this sister was nowhere to be found when the rest of the family was posing for pictures so we kept this one shot so she would be in at least one photograph. Anyway, there are other, better pictures of my father. Plus, this is the sister who was not very respectful to me, my home, or my parents during “the invasion” or the “War of the Roses” situation as I call it — Humph — so her photo can go.
I am also content with reducing the number of pictures of the groomsmen, since the best man is the most un-photogenic person I’ve ever seen. He was good-looking guy, but didn’t know how to smile naturally. Embarrassingly bad pictures. Anyway, I have not seen him or his wife or family since my Ex left me years ago. I don’t need multiple pictures of him in my house. See, “I am Here!”
And, I do feel comfortable destroying the poorly touched up close-ups of my then husband, whose face broke out right before the wedding. (Even his skin was trying to tell me something.) He hated the pictures because he looked so bad and he wouldn’t “let” me show the album to anyone anyway. Humph.
I’m even cool with limiting the bridal party pictures of the women. My second best friend was suffering from a stomach disorder that was so bad that she had to be released from the hospital just to attend the wedding. She’d been throwing up — a lot. She didn’t look so good. I would guess that she’d probably be quite happy if I made some of the pictures that include her . . . disappear, especially since she’s a television personality now.
Also, I am completely cool with losing photographs of some of my Ex-Husband’s friends and those wedding guests that now I’m not even sure why we invited– except for, of course, that photo containing the likeness of one guest who is now somewhat famous (Nope, I’m not telling — heh, heh). I’ll keep that one.
Yeah, I’m ready to reduce and downsize my wedding mementos and preserve them in a manner of my choosing and befitting their relative importance. It’ll be like the olden days when there was only a portrait of the bride, maybe some pictures of the wedding party and the happy couple — but just not so many damn pictures. I really don’t need all of them. If my whole downsizing thing has taught me anything, it has taught me that I don’t need to preserve everything. Hell, my Ex-husband and his new wife don’t have this stuff taking up space in their home. I don’t even want it taking up treasured space on my hard drive.
So yes, I am completely cool with reducing the number of photos, and placing them in a less shrine-like album. And bonus, my taking control of the manner of display may make it more bearable when the kids do want to look at them.
Sadly, it has started to rain. So there will be no fires today. Sigh. But another day . . . burn, baby, burn . . .
Just Me With . . . a need to reduce and control the physical manifestation of my wedding memories. Yeah, I’m good with that now. (And I promise not to take a Sharpie to his teeth.)
See also: Always a Bridesmaid
Compared to many women, I haven’t been a bridesmaid that often. I don’t come from a large family and only have a small circle of good friends. So I’ve only done the bridesmaid thing four times: two sisters, one high school friend, one college friend. I was a bride once. Yeah, that one didn’t work out. Took a generation not to work out, but . . . I digress. The hundreds of dollars I spent on pictures for my own wedding, the dress — well , it’s all boxed — like some sort of evil time capsule. Wedding Leftovers.
However, hanging in my house is a picture of me in full bridesmaid regalia from my college friend’s wedding. The gown was lilac colored, off the shoulder. I was having a damn good hair day if I do say so myself. It was one of those good hair days that ironically women usually only have at night while home alone. But I was having a good hair day on a day where my picture was going to be taken. Score!!! The picture is a candid of me laughing at the church, fussing over — whatever — minutes before the ceremony. Behind me is one of the other bridesmaids, now twice divorced, also smiling and happy. It was a good day. My friend was getting married to a guy I really liked (this was before he lost his mind), her other bridesmaids were a hoot and it was a gorgeous Spring day. It was before I swore off weddings and became so cynical (in other words, I was newly married and child-free).
The wedding was beautiful, went off without a hitch. My friend was the kind of girl who always had perfection just happen. Unfortunately, the perfection didn’t last, however, and she and the guy I really liked eventually divorced. For as perfect as things were for her then, they got as bad as it gets — i.e., he knocked up another woman — yeah, that bad. So, the guy I really liked? Well, I don’t like him so much anymore. Nope, nope. See Remote Attendance at Weddings — Royal or Otherwise. But she got through it and last year she married a guy I don’t know at all — but he’s a guy she really likes and loves and that’s all that matters.
Recently she came to my house and saw that picture from her first wedding hanging on my wall. She had framed and given me the picture many, many years ago, but when she saw it she did a little double take and said:
“Wait, is that my wedding?”
Yeah, I responded, “I hope you don’t mind, but I looked good and so happy that day and I always liked that picture.”
“No, it’s fine. You did look good that day. And look there’s Molly behind you . . . “
“Yeah, she looked good, too.” She did.
We both smiled silently and my friend went on to look at the other pictures on my wall. It was okay to hang that picture. She was okay with it. Those were simpler times.
My point is this. For those women who tire of always being the bridesmaid, you do leave with pictures and memories that are completely independent of the success of a marriage. Rejoice in them. Hang them. Show them. Photoshop out the bride and groom in later years if need be. But the fun of the occasion, the stories, the mementos — these are things to savor years — and styles, later.
It’s funny, being a bride can be so fleeting. Sometimes, it can be disastrous, and sometimes all evidence of it just needs to disappear. Being a bridesmaid, though, now that’s forever and that’s a good thing — especially if you were having a good hair day.
Just Me With . . . a lilac off-the-shoulder dress, a really good hair day, and pictures from somebody else’s wedding I can happily hang on my wall — even though the bride can’t . . . . because, you know, the groom ended up being such a schmuck and all.
I haven’t been to a wedding in years. Well, except taking my kids to see their teacher get married. Actually even before my marriage ended, I swore off most weddings. I married young, my parents didn’t really approve and didn’t rejoice in it. His family was, well, not traditional. And although it was okay, I started to envy the grown-up, joyous, better funded and better planned weddings I witnessed later. I usually went alone to my friends’ weddings anyway, my Ex hated weddings more than I did. After a while, I just stopped going to the very few invitations I got, unless it was a command performance family thing.
But this wedding was of the daughter of a woman who is a good, special person. The mother of the bride, Liz, her husband and daughters are former neighbors. Liz selflessly helped me — and my family — for a prolonged period in my prolonged time of need. She’ll be a topic of another post at a later time. Suffice it to say, as much I am usually disgusted by the mere thought of going to a wedding and reception, the fact that I haven’t been to one since my separation and divorce (even blew off my bridesmaid’s destination wedding — and she understood, see Remote Attendance at Weddings — Royal or Otherwise), I had to go to this one. I wanted to go to this one. Kind of. I wanted to see, but I didn’t want to go. In my fantasy world, I’d be the proverbial fly on the wall, I would materialize just long enough to congratulate the family, and then — Poof! Gone! But as I’ve discovered over the years, I am not magic.
First, let me say that the bridal shower was the day after my ex-husband got married.
(Insert knife, turn) See, I Was “The Nanny” When My Ex-Husband Got Married.
Next, I was invited, but the invitation did not allow me to bring a guest. Liz had given me a heads up earlier that they just couldn’t invite all of my kids to the reception, though they could come to the ceremony. I completely understood that, no problem. Five plates for kids, totally not worth it. And I also understand that it is appropriate to invite a single guest without including an invitation for him or her to bring a nameless date — some stranger to share in the bride and groom’s a special day. I get that.
It’s just that I’m a bit sensitive and unused to being single — truly legally single, at a wedding. But that was what was going to happen. As I said, I’ve gone stag before to weddings, my Ex skipped the receptions for both my best friend and my sister’s weddings, he didn’t want to go with me to my college friends’ weddings, which was fine, I had more fun without him with that crowd. So I’m used to doing things alone, before, during and now after my marriage. See, The New Walk of Shame for the Single Woman: Going Out Alone. But this was different. These people, to varying degrees, witnessed my nervous breakdown.
My kids love the mother of the bride, Liz, know her well, and the Bride and her sister used to babysit them from time to time and were my mother’s helpers when I had infant and toddler twins — so that I could, you know, wash myself or something. So I thought the kids would want to see the ceremony at a local church. Wrong. Only one managed to get off of the couch to go to the wedding. One daughter.
We walked in together. Me and my girl.
The church was full of familiar faces, familiar friendly faces. This wedding was a neighborhood affair, the neighborhood where the “marital” home was, the neighborhood to which I had brought all of my kids home from the hospital and neighbors showered us with gifts, the neighborhood where we were living when my family fell apart, the neighborhood from which the kids and I moved when I had to downsize. Most of these people knew my story. Many had seen me cry. So it was at once a very comfortable and a little awkward reunion.
A very sweet woman and her husband sat in the pew in front of us. Sally, I’ll call her. She used to live across the street from me. Correction, I used to live across the street from her. This woman has always been very supportive. She has suffered horrible tragedy in her life. After surviving breast cancer, including all of the necessary multiple surgeries and treatments, her oldest son died in a senseless accident at college. Unspeakable. Still, Sally is very outspoken, says whatever the hell is on her mind and adores her family. She has no love lost for my Ex and is one of the few people who has refused to exchange pleasantries with him. If looks could kill I would have been a widow long before I became a divorcee. She’d heard of his wedding.
Before the ceremony began, she turned to my daughter and asked, with a hint of a sneer,
“How was your Dad’s wedding?“
Me, in my head:
“Uh,What the hell? Oh no, make it stop, don’t show emotion, ahhhhh”
Me, in my head:
“Ahhh. No, please don’t talk about that. Not now. Not with my daughter. Not in front of me. Not at a wedding. NOOOO No No No NO NO NO. Please don’t say anything more, please.”
Sally pursed her lips; I held my breath. I could tell she was holding something back. I didn’t want her to say anything else. Thankfully, she turned around without saying more. I could tell she couldn’t figure out what to say that would express her opinion but wouldn’t be inappropriate to say in front of my daughter. So she self-censored, thank goodness. But it was a bit too late — for me. Oh my daughter was fine, but it made me feel like crap. I’m at a wedding and have to listen to my kid being questioned about my Ex’s wedding? Ouch.
(Insert knife, turn, twice.)
The music was Stevie Wonder and Jason Mraz, the bride was beautiful and spoke intelligently as they read their own vows, the groom looked thankful and promised to walk beside her — but also behind her as she achieved her success, and in front of her to shield her from danger. There were meaningful readings, and a very short sermon. (Actually, the minister was the one who referenced that this was a moment in time between an earthquake and a hurricane, I don’t want to use the words of a man of the cloth without giving him proper credit — lightning strike averted.) Anyway, the wedding was elegant without being stuffy, comfortable without being tacky. I would expect no less from and want no less for this family. They are good, good people. (And I barely had any of my normal internal negative running monologue about how everybody says the right things in the church, and may even mean it at the time, but . . . ) Perhaps I still believe in love after all. Huh. I just wish I could forget my regrets . . . but I digress . . .
During the ceremony I saw Sally grab her husband’s hand and squeeze it. He squeezed back. She laid her head on his shoulder. It was a sweet moment for the long-married couple. They have been through hell. This man eulogized his own son, for God’s sake. Through it all, though, they love each other, deeply. I was happy for them, too.
But as I was sitting there, it occurred to me: I had not felt this alone in a long while.
After the ceremony while still at the church Sally apologized to me for her comment about my Ex’s wedding. She explained what I already knew, that in her mind she was thinking it was nice for my daughter to see a young (but old enough) couple get married, both for the first time, with no baggage or no kids, from nice families, etc., kind of “the way it should be” — in contrast to what she imagined my Ex’s wedding was like with his five kids in tow, after a really cruel breakup and nasty divorce. I get it. And I know she meant well, but the apology made me feel worse. I just wanted to forget about it.
I had to drop my daughter back home before going to the reception. While there I had to mediate arguments over dinner and television. It was bad enough that I was going somewhere, a wedding reception no less, alone, but I also had to fight with my kids first.
Walking into the reception alone, I panicked for a second until I found my old friends, couples from the old neighborhood. Some of these folks have been beyond good to me, from sending me dinners, lending me money, to appearing as witnesses at court, one I’ve written about already, When I Needed a Helping Hand, and I may write about others. It’s important to share stories about goodness in the world. I’d seen some of these people recently so the greetings were more casual. From others, however, I got that “So how are you doing?” head tilt. Does anyone remember the Friends episode where Richard (Tom Selleck) tells Monica about how people greet him after his divorce? Yeah, that.
On a positive note, though, I also got the “You look great!” comment. That was nice, because these people had seen me when I didn’t look so great (huge understatement).
It was a sit down dinner, and we (meaning me and the couple I was talking to) made our way to our table where I discovered that —
I was seated at a table with four couples.
(Insert knife, turn three times.)
I felt so, so SINGLE — but not in a good way. Plus, I was also the only person of color at my table, which isn’t a big deal nor unexpected but it just fed into my feeling of being so obviously, visually ALONE. (Singing the Sesame Street song, “One of these things just doesn’t belong here . . .”)
Plus, these long-time married couples reminisced about their own weddings and remarked about how the bride and her friends probably just think “we’re the old guys” now.
(Insert knife, turn four times.)
So, now, not only was I without an escort and a third wheel — or more accurately a ninth wheel, I was one of the old guys, hanging out with happily middle-aged, comfortable, prosperous, tipsy, married people. After all, they had each other, good jobs, good times — past, present and future. And, they were having a good time at the wedding. It was all good. Except for me, I felt like I was watching everyone else have a good time, hell, a good life. I know things are not always what they seem, I know that couples are not always happy and certainly not all the time. Oh yeah, I know that. I mean, I was married once, you know. But I didn’t really want to talk to couples as couples and the truth is, as couples, as a group, I have less in common with them than I did before. If I had I been feeling better or had been drinking, I might have gone out to dance with the young singles, but I know that would have been — weird. My time for that is gone (and I’d never really experienced it, having married so young, and not been a drinker).
Eventually, we got up to mingle and dance.
I danced with other couples.
(Insert knife, turn five times.)
One married woman commented on a cute younger single guy, but added “not that he’d want a broken down broad like me.” This woman is not broken down, and is attractive (as is her husband). Suddenly I felt old by association. She was cool with it, because she does not need new male companionship. Well, I do. And what if I’m a broken down broad, or at least categorized that way? Remember that early Sex and the City episode when Samantha dates a younger man who actually refers to her as an older woman? She was shocked, like “Is that how he sees me?” It’s one thing to be alone, it’s another to feel like you’ve been put out to pasture. Especially when you’ve never even been to the Rodeo (enough bad analogies, I know). See Undateable, Part II.
My friend Sally had had a few drinks, or not, she didn’t really need it. She doesn’t need alcohol to express herself. It was so good to see she and her husband out and enjoying themselves. After the death of their son — well, I didn’t know if Sally would be able to go on. I can’t blame her. But here she was, loud and sassy, dancing with her husband. At one point she said to me, “It’s so nice to be at a wedding instead of a funeral.” Then she flitted off.
Later, out of nowhere she pulled me, actually grabbed and pulled me from my conversation with another ex-neighbor, and dragged me to the dance floor. I thought she just wanted to get me to dance.
Wrong! To my horror, she was dragging me out there to catch the bridal bouquet. There I was with the 28-year old, child-free, professional, drunk friends of the bride and groom. Awkward.
(Insert knife with serrated edge, turn six times.)
“You didn’t even try!” She scolded me when I failed to catch the bouquet.
She was right. I didn’t even try.
“You deserve a good man,” She said.
See, you gotta love her. Her heart is in the right place. She wants me to believe in love. She still does. And apparently she believes that the bouquet thing actually works.
Sally does love, deeply, even though she has suffered so. She calls her husband her soul-mate, yet outwardly they seem to be opposites. Anyone remember the show Dharma and Greg? The flower child woman who marries the blue blood attorney? Yeah Sally and Rob are like that, but older — she’s an artist, a former dancer, a wild child, dog-lover, mouthy and loud — he’s a straight-laced corporate type. But their love has survived cancer and the death of their first-born, along with the debilitating depression that followed. That’s some serious love. So I can’t be mad at her. I was happy to see her smile. And I’m glad people care about my happiness and wish me the best.
But being dragged out onto the dance floor to catch the wedding bouquet? Awkward. I’m not going to fight bridesmaids who used to babysit my kids to catch a freakin’ wedding bouquet. No.
When I returned the self-described “broken down broad” whispered to me when I got back, “I tried to warn you.” I hadn’t heard her. Damn.
Well, I made it until it was an acceptable time to leave. I walked out with another couple. Liz gave me a centerpiece to take home. Beautiful flowers, but hard to carry home — ALONE. Damn thing fell over as I drove, I had no one to hold it for me or drive while I held it. Another pang of loneliness hit me. It was pretty. I like flowers, but I didn’t need a souvenir from a wedding. You might recall that my kids brought me back leftover flowers from my ex-husband’s wedding. See I Was The Nanny When My Ex-Husband Got Married.
Bottom line is: I love this family. That’s why I went. But in going I had taken a trip back to a prior life and felt that I didn’t belong there. It reminded me of how much my world has changed, and moreover, it reminded me that no matter how single — free — I am now, there is no complete “do-over” for me. It was appropriate for me to be seated with those couples. They are my friends. But it did cause me to be fearful that it was a snapshot of what I can expect from now on . . . feeling like a kid at the grown-up table . . . but too old to be at the kids’ table. The night was also a painful reminder of how bad the bad times had been for me and of how many people at this affair had witnessed them. I look forward to seeing these people individually, but the whole wedding thing was just too much for me. I’m a sensitive sort.
I left feeling happy for the bride, groom and the families. But I came home feeling pretty down. I had tried, but I could not have fun. Just couldn’t do it. Still, I’m glad I went to this particular wedding, the bride being the daughter of an angel and all, even though it took an emotional toll.
I know I have much to be thankful for; but I’ve been known to suffer from the melancholy anyway (another understatement).
Let me be clear, though. I do not miss being married to my Ex, or being married at all. I did not wish he was there and did not wish I’d had a date or boyfriend. In fact, I can’t imagine ever getting married again, let alone being someone’s girlfriend. My sadness stems from all the crap I’ve gone through (and the fact that so many of the people at that wedding knew about my crap, and have seen me at my worst), and it all leaves me wondering,
“Where do I fit in? ”
You see, I didn’t envy the couples I was seated with. Well, maybe I envy their prior youthful shenanigans that I missed out on, but I feared their present state of being settled and okay with being “the old guys” or a “broken down broad.” That’s not me. Yet I didn’t belong out there catching the bouquet either. Truth is, I didn’t belong at any table. I should have been a fly on the wall.
I haven’t felt right since, to tell the truth. It was a hard, beautiful night. And the next night, well . . . there was a hurricane.
Just Me With . . . some leftover wedding flowers . . . again — But NOT the bouquet!
My Ex-Husband remarried recently. We had been married many, many years, had five children together, a prolonged separation, and the nasty divorce was final only a few months ago. The announcement of the pending nuptials was made to the children and then to me just last month. Then things seemed to take on a life of their own. And someway, somehow, I was relegated to the Nanny in this whole wedding scenario, a Nanny who is not treated very well, unpaid, and forced to work and/or be on-call on her days off.
— Have the children ready and send them out no later than x o’clock am on Friday because they have hair and nails appointments at y.
— So and so will pick the children up in time to get to wedding [unnamed location] by x time, they will be brought back around y time by different so and so’s.
— They’ll be brought home “sometime in the evening” because it is an evening wedding [no time provided]
— Make sure they don’t mess up their hair and nails before the wedding
— Make sure they don’t mess up their hair and nails before the wedding, and again
–Make sure they don’t mess up their hair and nails before the wedding.
In the weeks preceding the above I was hit with:
— We want to take x child shopping for wedding clothes on x date (even though it was not during the visitation times),
— We didn’t find anything so we’ll be back tomorrow to take the child out again (even though it was not during visitation times), he said you don’t have any plans.
Well, well, well.
I had decided that since it is their father’s wedding, the children should of course be allowed to attend (even though the wedding did not fall on a “Daddy” day). Accordingly, I would be flexible and allow some inconveniences. Because, how often is he going to get married?
( Seriously, I’m taking wagers).
However, that said, and although it is true that I no longer love him, and I have no jealous or romantic feelings about his getting married, etc., it turns out that my being an indirect participant in the wedding festivities by providing my assistance with the children and scheduling was a little too much to take.
The day before the wedding was grooming day. I had to have the kids up and out at a very early hour for Summer. I had no idea what time they would return. On the wedding day itself, though the children were not going to dress for the wedding at home, they still had to be showered and ready to go by a certain time. This responsibility fell on me . . . and it pissed me off. The children did not rush to get ready. I had to ride them about it.
“C’mon, get up, start your showers.”
“You cannot be late, please get in the shower.”
“You cannot wait until the last minute, PLEASE, get ready.”
Then they were picked up by the Ex’s relatives, at least one of whom has disrespected me in ways she doesn’t even know I know about and in other ways she does. This person was sent to my house to fetch my children. She’s never been to my home before and under any other circumstances would not be welcome.
I was never actually given a location for the wedding and had to specifically ask for the time of the wedding and a time frame in which I would expect the children home. Not an unreasonable request, one that shouldn’t have had to have been made. I mean I did need to make sure I was home or near home when the kids got there.
That night, though some of the children have phones, I was texted by the Ex himself to tell me the children were on their way home (no time frame provided, and still since I was not given the location of the wedding, their being on their way home didn’t mean much). When I didn’t respond to my Ex’s text in a timely manner I got a subsequent text asking me to confirm my receipt of his original text. Upon confirmation, I received a “Thank you.” I guess that meant his responsibility for the children was now over. The Nanny (that would be me) was going to be home, the evil half sisters (actually only one of them is evil) could drop them off and leave.
Well, well, well.
And as the children came in, dropped their bags of clothes, shoe boxes, flowers all over the house, it was up to me to make them clean up after themselves or do it for them. And when one of my children presented me with a box of leftover boutonniere roses, it was up to me to respond with the appropriate thank you. (Ugh) Adding insult to injury, another child asked me why I didn’t come. I responded, a bit too matter of factly, “To my Ex-Husband’s Wedding?” And another, older child, added simply, “It’s self-explanatory.” I’m sure I was so much more useful to them in the capacity to which I was assigned anyway. The children were exhausted, they left half of their mess strewn around our little house and they went off to bed.
It was so nice for the bride and groom that the nanny could repeatedly present the children on a timely basis to be made up so beautifully for the wedding day and that the nanny could stand by and be available to receive the children when their appearance for and celebration of the happy occasion was over.
Well, well, well.
As it turned out, it didn’t feel so nice for me. I am human.
This is what led to my not having such a good day on the day after the wedding. No I didn’t feel like having a big blow out party or night out on the town on his wedding day, but I unwittingly facilitated everyone else having a grand old time while I rushed around and then waited around. This, after the tears, complaints, uncomfortable silences and tantrums from the kids in the six weeks from announcement of the wedding to the wedding itself. All things I had to deal with.
In the end, though, the kids were fine. But the whole ordeal was taxing on me, from worrying about them generally ,and dealing with their initial ambivalence and despair “I don’t want to go to the wedding at all,” cried one child, to changes in schedules, and being ordered about without common courtesy. and having to literally clean up after the affair.
It shouldn’t have been like this. Damn. My Ex and his Bride have not proven to be the most sensitive people (this is the man who sent his kids home to tell me he was getting married ON MOTHER’S DAY). So I don’t expect much, but damn.
Hindsight. Should I have said that he must take the children for the whole weekend? Perhaps. But he never has them for the whole weekend and it was not even his weekend. Who would have taken care of them while the bride and groom honeymooned or were consummating their marriage or when they simply weren’t needed? The evil half-sister? Some other random relative the kids don’t know (but I do) ? I was convinced that if I’d said, “Well you take the kids for the whole thing” it would have been harder on the kids. Maybe I was wrong. And had we switched weekends and days around, which is not our norm, it would have interfered with some activities the kids and I already have planned for later in the Summer.
All in all, at the time I was concerned about trying to keep the whole thing as drama-free as possible and keeping the children from being dragged around any more than necessary. Plus, I didn’t want to force technicalities just to flex my muscles or to purposefully, spitefully inconvenience the bride and groom. I didn’t want to play the “you don’t have a right to take the kids” card — it just would have made everything nasty.
Perhaps, however, I should have been more concerned about myself. Well, lesson learned.
The next time he gets married . . . things will be different. Ha!
Consequently, I have been in a complete funk ever since the wedding. I provided assistance and patience and in return, I was a recipient of their rudeness. I know I allowed it, but it still pisses me off. Note to self: develop more backbone (despite years of being accommodating to him). See My High School Self.
I feel like I should get something for my trouble, my stress, my time, my child counseling — all the things I suffered as a result of the Ex’s decision to remarry in a hurry.
No, I don’t want a “Thank you.”
I’ll take a check.
Just Me With . . . nothing to show for any of this crap, but leftover dying wedding flower boutonnieres in a sugar jar.
I heard somewhere that a good lawyer can take two inextricably related concepts — facts that are fused together, if you will — and think of them separately. Yin from the Yang. Well, I’m still a lawyer. When I was practicing, before all the children, depression and heartbreak, I was a good lawyer. I can do this.
So “but for” the kids, how do I feel about my ex-husband’s wedding?
Up until now my concerns about the wedding have been the poor way in which it was announced to me via the kids (unsuccessfully, see How I Found Out that My Ex-Husband Is Getting Married), the kids’ reluctant involvement in it, dealing with one kid’s downright hysteria about it, and the other kids’ unusual silence. Also, I’ve had to deal with the happy couple taking the children shopping to dress them for the event and the changes in the visitation schedules necessitated by the preparation for and the event itself.
On a personal level, I admit that since this will be the first time since they were little that the girls have all gotten dressed up for anything — and it’s for their father’s wedding — and I am not involved –well, that smarts a bit — but again that has to do with the kids. Additionally, I worry that if I do become upset about the wedding, either teary or angry, how will that make the kids feel when they get home? But that’s still about the kids. Plus, I have thought about how it will be to have to deal with this woman with respect to the children going forward once she gets her “Mrs” since there have been some issues. But again, the issues are all related to the kids. It’s all stuff all related — directly or indirectly– to the children.
So I’ll do the lawyerly thing and take the kids completely out of the analysis.
Accordingly, with respect to making a determination as to how I feel regarding my ex-husband’s impending nuptials, I hereby order that for the purposes of this post, and this post only, such determination shall be made without any consideration whatsoever of the minor children born to me and him during our now dissolved union.
It’s a stretch, but . . . okay — be gone– thoughts of children!!!
Now how do I feel about my ex-husband getting married?
F*ck if I know.
Really, sorry for the profanity . . . but I guess I’m a little freaked out by the fact that I don’t feel much about it.
Is this going to be one of those things when I think I’m fine and then I end up in a heap on the floor calling my counseling hotline? I really don’t think so.
I’ve had two friends volunteer to “do something” with me that day. Am I gonna need that? I mean, okay, maybe I shouldn’t do “nothing” that day, but really, I’ve done the nervous breakdown thing before and this doesn’t feel like that. And I’d like to, need to, spend more time with friends, but not necessarily on that day simply because it is his wedding day.
It seems that people are afraid I will fall apart because of all that I’ve been through. But, for once, perhaps because of all that I’ve been through, I don’t think that I will — fall apart.
Again, taking everything else away (and there’s a lot) . . .
I really don’t think that my ex-husband getting married is a matter of my concern.
I don’t care.
Huh. There you have it.
So ordered. Judgment in favor of “I don’t give a f*ck.”
That said, the kids will be gone for a few hours that day. Now that I’ve established that I don’t have feelings about him getting married (again, taking the real crap out of the analysis), what should I do on his wedding day? I don’t feel like planning something particularly special or completely out of the ordinary because that seems so . . . well . . . reactive.
So . . . what to do? What to do? (Or, did I just completely sidestep how I feel by finishing up by talking about what I should do?)
Just Me With . . . no feelings about and no plans for my Ex-Husband’s Wedding Day.
Postscript: His wedding day has come and gone. I Was The Nanny When My Ex-Husband Got Married
Related Posts: He’ll Be Married, I’ll Be Free
Weddings are everywhere now. Movies, royals, my ex-husband, . . . everywhere. So I thought I’d write about my own bride story, hopefully not in a “I should have known” way, but just the facts, ma’am.
I was having an evening church wedding. My bridesmaids were my sister, my best friend, and two close friends. The rehearsal dinner was meant to be casual, pizza and soda/wine at my parents’ house. The rehearsal itself had gone pretty well, I’d done the “get someone to stand in for the bride” thing . . . so I watched.
Probably not the best idea.
I got in the car and said to her, simply.
“I’m not going to do it, you know.”
My Bridesmaid was very calm, and, after she’d gotten me to clarify and repeat my confession that I was not going to get married, she replied,
“It’s nerves, it’ll be okay.”
“Oh, I’m not nervous. I’m just not doing it.” As if I was talking about getting on a ride at an amusement park.
What could she say? I think she just said okay. She must have felt horrible. I was so matter-of-fact about this huge statement. I went through our rehearsal dinner, and it was, as I’d wanted it, informal. My husband-to-be looked so veryhappy, I remember. Still, I didn’t say or do anything that revealed my discomfort. I did love him. Something was pissing me off, though. For a fleeting second I felt like he’d won, he “gotten” me, clipped my wings.
The next day, I did the whole wedding day prep thing, got my makeup and hair done, put on the big white dress. I guess I thought I was over it. But I wasn’t excited.
Once we were at the church, we realized that someone forgot to bring the flowers for the flower girls. Silly to have little girls with nothing in their hands. Someone had to run back to the house to get the flowers.
This gave me time. Maybe too much time.
As we all waited in the vestibule at the back of the church, I walked myself and the big white dress into a corner . . . way into the corner . . . facing the corner.
Later, my bridesmaids told me that at first they thought I was praying. But I wasn’t a praying kind of girl, not in a room full of people, anyway. Maybe praying is what I should have been doing. What I was doing was seriously considering making a run for it, big white dress and all. I pictured myself running out of the church, across the busy street, and through town, like in a movie.
Awkward. I heard the bustling around me, wondering if anyone noticed that I had put myself in time-out and that I wasn’t speaking to anyone. Ironically, the big white dress — with a train– created a physical barrier from everyone. I was hard to get to. My body was in the corner, my face was down, the dress fanned out around me. Still, I think I was waiting for somebody to do . . . something.
It started to get uncomfortably quiet.
Finally, my best friend slid herself between the wall and my dress to get close enough to me to say,
“Are you all right?’
“Yes,” I replied, curtly, but I was not a happy bride. I think I might have told her or even waved her to go away. I didn’t speak much.
I was thinking, though. I was thinking that if I did this, got married, I mean, it was for life. I didn’t believe in divorce, not a religious thing, just not an option for me (at the time). I was thinking I didn’t want to hurt or embarrass anyone. I was thinking that if I ran, well, that would be bad.
Someone came back with the flowers for the flower girls.
At the last minute me and my big white dress turned around and got married. And, by the way, he was so nervous, he did not even look at me while we took our vows. I joked later that he really married the minister, not me.
Does anyone remember Charlotte’s first wedding on Sex and the City? Charlotte expressed second thoughts to Carrie at the back of the church (because Trey couldn’t perform). Though Carrie at first responded that it was just nerves, she eventually told Charlotte that she doesn’t have to get married,
“We can go get a cab and everybody will just have to get over it“
Sex and The City, Season Three, Episode 12, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
I have wondered over the years — what if someone had said to me, “You don’t have to do this.” I’m not sure if it would have changed anything. Like Charlotte, even the most ambivalent of brides would probably go through with it anyway.
Still . . . it makes a girl think.
This is in no way a criticism to my bridesmaids for not uttering the Carrie words. We we all so young. None of us knew what we were doing. I was the first of our age group to get married. It takes a very mature person to actively assist a runaway bride. So I know why they didn’t say it.
But what if someone had?
The institution of marriage should not, as the preacher says, be entered into lightly. So for all you bridesmaids out there, who have promised to wear the coordinating dresses and walk ahead of the bride down the aisle — don’t forget to look back to make sure she’s there. Well, actually before that, let her know that, if need be, you will run out to the street and hail a cab for her . . . big white dress and all.
Just Me With . . . a bride story.
Funny, when my now ex-husband got re-married, I was just The Nanny. But I did have dinner with one of my former bridesmaids that day. Perhaps she didn’t know what to say when I got married, but she knew what to say when my divorce was final. My relationship with her has stood the test of time, hopefully, until death do us part. See To My Best Friend On Mother’s Day
I am the most bitter of bitter, clinically depressed and all around down in the dumps – – most of the time. But something strange happened, something occurred to me that made me . . . . smile. I think I just heard a collective gasp from my readers, it’s shocking I know, really shocking. But I smiled . . . I smiled . . . regarding the impending nuptials of my ex-husband, a man I had been with since the tender age of 16, a man with whom I share the only children I’ll ever have, a man who, after many years of marriage, suddenly told me, simply, “I have to go,” on one snowy night after we had put our children to bed.
Now, a mere four months after our prolonged and contentious divorce became final, he has announced plans to remarry (well, he left me a voice mail). Though I do think it sets a better example for our tween and teen children, I have many concerns, many scowls and curses about the whole idea of it and the manner in which it has unfolded. All fodder for another post for another day . . . maybe, . . . or maybe not.
But the story today is not so vile
The story today is about my Grinch-like smile,
which started out small and then started to grow . . .
it started, of course, when I realized and thought . . .
I thought and I realized that them tying the knot
means a knot will be tied and . . . he’s all knotted up!
In other words, minus the bad Seuss inspired prose.
He’ll be married while I– am– free!
My ex-everything will be on lock down, committed, his relationship and his ownership of property will be governed by our state’s laws, he will be bound in matrimony. His dating and new relationship days are over. Even now, he’s running around getting stuff for the wedding and speaking in the royal “we” while I am, in a word — free.
This is all new for me. I was married young and for many years. For most of my life, I was someone’s girlfriend, someone’s wife; hell, I was his girlfriend, his wife. Now, I’m not. Did you hear it? Did you feel it? There has been a small shift somewhere in the universe and everything has changed . Next month, he’ll be somebody’s husband and I’ll be NOBODY’S wife. (smile) In a strange way, this has set me free in a way that separation and divorce and even other men did not. This is a statement to the world that our epic romance, and crippling break-up — is — over. And the fact that I’m okay with that part of it, even though I was royally dumped, will be so much more obvious when he makes his vows to another woman and . . .
I . . .DON’T . . . LAY . . . DOWN . . . AND . . . DIE.
Oh, I’m still pissed about a lot of things, don’t get me wrong. Sure there will be more announcements, more crap to deal with; it’s another chapter in a book I didn’t want to read. And I’m not even addressing here my larger concerns about difficulty dealing with them both where the kids are concerned, his lingering hostility toward, pity and disrespect of me, the fact that I never got a chance to be single while younger and without children, the opportunities I may have missed because I married young, and that he is getting a do-over in a way, as a woman and mother, I cannot. But . . . still . . . I’m free.
Soon, we will no longer just be living separately. He’ll be living married and I’ll be living single. If you’ve read my other posts, you know I haven’t jumped into the dating waters with both feet. I stick my toes in, maybe up to my knees, then get out where it’s warm, apply my sun (man) screen and enjoy the fresh air. However, whenever I do get in — whether I jump, inch in slowly, get pushed or perhaps pulled in, it’ll be my thing. I’ll make stories to tell, stories that for once, don’t include him.
“Oh the places [I’ll] go . . .”
And you know what? I don’t have to settle for the random landscaper dude. I can do better. I deserve better.
Just Me With . . . a smile. heh heh heh
Related Posts: How Do I Feel About My Ex-Husband Getting Married?