After my wedding in 2016, I distanced myself from my friends. The exhaustion of planning a wedding and feeling overwhelmed by the new chapter I was willing to write, but unwilling to live was the nightmare I was living. Committing your life to someone who suddenly flipped the script the moment we returned from our honeymoon gave me sleepless nights – eight months to be exact. I felt tormented by the idea of having to see this marriage through and learn how to maneuver my way through the life I recently signed up for.
I was disillusioned in my belief that marriage would fix the problems in my relationship. Rather than alleviating the weight of our daily struggles, marriage made it worse. There were things we both expected from one another being spouses but were both unwilling to compromise or seek resolution to any of our problems. Our arguing became worse, my temper unbearable, his struggles more present.
While planning my wedding, it was no secret that my friends were not fans of my ex. I did not paint him in the best light, not that he helped with his antics, but despite it all I was counting on them to support my decision to marry him. In retrospect, I understand how insane it seemed to my friends that I had agreed to marry someone who made me miserable. I thought marriage would resolve our issues. I believed with all my heart that taking the leap into marriage would straighten us and I would be able to trust and love him without limitations. Afterall, he chose me to spend the rest of his life with.
I was counting on the support of one of my closest girlfriends who agreed to travel across the state to help celebrate my big day. I really needed, wanted her to be there for my nuptials. After confirming she would be coming to share the special day with me, I was disappointed when a week before my wedding she texted me stating that the hotel had “lost” her reservation and she could not make it. I was disappointed and annoyed by her last-minute cancellation.
There were reasons behind my annoyance. For starters, I was paying for my wedding and had already made my final payment to the venue, which included a headcount and costs for individual plates ($236 per plate). Second, cancelling a week before a wedding is not good etiquette and it was hurtful. Finally, I was upset she made no attempt to rectify the hotel’s error. I asked her if she could book a room at the hotel my other guests had made reservations at. She refused to do so. I pressed on and decided to shelf the situation for the time being to focus on my wedding. I counted down the days until I said, “I do,” and was on a plane to Italy.
On return from my honeymoon, I jumped back into life and unhappy matrimony with my new husband. I limited my interactions with my so-called best friend. I was curt in response to her attempts at checking in on me. I was in my feelings and furious and did not want to engage in with her. There was a part of me that knew that having any kind of conversation with her would not end well and I would ruin the friendship. I wanted to preserve our friendship, but knew I was not in a place to control my anger. Overwhelmed by the constant stress and pain I was suffering at the hands of my ex-husband that I did not want to spew vitriol at her.
As time continued, I evaluated the events that lead to my wedding day and the people who did show up for me. Despite personal feelings, opinions, or a lack of agreement with my decision, there was a select few that chose to show up on my behalf. Those friends were also there for me when my ex-husband and I ended our marriage. As I continued to process the events leading to my wedding, I grew more upset at the absence of my best girlfriend.
Friendship is comprised of valleys and peaks that paint the picture of our lives. It is in the shadows of that picture we grow. It was in these shadows a shift took place. I was going to rise out of the darkness, but this time I would be different. This time I would learn from my decisions and start healing from my childhood trauma. This time, I would grow into a person I would love and one that could be loved. I was about to rewrite the rules of my life and change my lifestyle for the better.
The changes would be slow. I would start seeing progress in how I managed situations and how I communicated with others. I began voicing my feelings, which I had learned to suppress. In the past, my feelings would be explosive. They would come out in the form of anger. People would be aghast when I would lose my shit if I felt wronged. For much of my life, I did not know how to express my feelings effectively. I wanted to be heard but did not know how to achieve that.
I learned to detach myself from coping mechanisms that I developed in childhood that helped make me feel safe in moments of distress. Now in my thirties, those mechanisms were no longer serving me, and I needed to adapt new methods to live a healthier life and find my happiness. In the process of this growth, my therapist told me that I would see changes in my friendships, and they would no longer support my new lifestyle. She warned me to be ready to “lose” those who were comfortable remaining “unhealthy.” This warning scared me and turned out to be true. When I saw friendships deteriorate because I was no longer feeding the toxicity, relief took its place.
As time passed, my “anger” about my girl bestie not coming to my wedding lessened. The growth softened my position and helped me process the hurt. I did not have to operate from a place of anger when expressing my feelings.
It took me years before I was able to have a conversation with my former bestie, six years to be exact. The distance between us helped us both grow. The same way I was reflecting on how I managed her not being there for me, she too was reflecting on not expressing her true feelings. She told me that she should have managed the situation differently but did not have the tools to do so. I told her, I struggled speaking to her because I did not have the tools to communicate in a healthy way.
In having the conversation with her, we both realized that we lacked the ability to speak to one another effectively in 2016. She too, an adult child of an alcoholic, did not know how to address her feelings out of fear I would not manage it well, which is a fair statement. She also believed she was a bad friend for not supporting my decision to get married, so she avoided the entire situation. I did not want to engage with her because I knew I could become explosive if my feelings were not received well. Avoiding each other seemed like the only plausible solution.
The space we silently agreed upon allowed us to adapt to new life skills. Among other things, she learned how to be less fearful of expressing her feelings and I learned how to better manage my feelings. I walked away from the conversation feeling heard and better understanding her point of view. I only regret not being able to have what I thought would be a difficult discussion before. However, I am happy that we gave each other the space to heal.
It makes me happy that we are back to being friends and writing the next chapters of our lives together. She is on the brink of motherhood, and myself being the happiest I have been and healthy as well. I am happy to be able to be part of the next chapter of her life as we grow into viejitas (old ladies).
Photo Credit: All pictures are Mari Rey Originals.