A year ago, I got engaged to my fiancé, Jonathan. We were uncharacteristically sitting at a hooka bar when he told me that when I was ready, he would marry me, “no matter if it’s one year from now, five years, ten years, or even twenty.” (Insert SWOON!) I couldn’t believe what had just happened. For a few days I existed inside a surreal bubble filled with love, rainbows, lemonade and big red balloons (Jonathan was like, “does this imaginary happy place really have to be a little kid carnival? This is kind of creepy.” And I was like, “YEP. Live with it, sucker! You’re mine now!”) I have never been more elated in my life.
And then the buzz kill came when I told my parents.
I imagine a day many years from now when I’ll be able to fully appreciate the parallel between my life and the countless comedy films with “wedding” and “parents” in the storyline. But right now, things are still a little raw. Basically, my huge Life Step marched right onto a land mine. My engagement triggered all the hidden issues my family and I had been ignoring.
I spent a good half a year convincing myself I was A-OK and that I wasn’t freaking out about planning a wedding. But the more I tried to please people who weren’t excited about us getting married in the first place, the more I realized I was practically half naked seeing how much I had completely unraveled. I love my parents dearly and I know the love is reciprocated, but man, it’s been a tough year.
One of my good friends told me that engagement is one of the happiest times I’ll ever have, and to relish it. But bawling my brains out was no way to spend the happiest time of my life. So I decided to seek help through a therapist.
The second half of my engagement year has been a slow uphill climb in learning how to separate my happiness from the fulfillment from my parents’ expectations. And I can say with confidence that my parents are working towards coming to terms with how I’ve chosen a different path than the one they envisioned for me.
Now I want to show you the illustration that inspired this blog post. My talented and impossibly sweet friend Chris Longs is doing the album artwork for my forthcoming double EP, “The Shy Gemini Sessions.” It’s still a work in progress, but he sent me this as a preliminary sketch. I fell in love with it immediately.
When I look at this illustration, it feels as though I’m looking at my reflection for the first time in a very, very long time. It’s as though I have been wandering through a world without mirrors, unable to truly see the person I have become until suddenly, now, I encounter myself again. There I am!
I can’t stop staring at it. I’m incomplete and scattered, but my lines are formed and that’s all I really need. I don’t need to be whole right now, I just need to be in the process.
Going through this tumultuous engagement year, I’ve lost perspective, composure and a little bit of sanity, too. Thank goodness for music though. I was able to inject my emotions into the songs that turned into “The Shy Gemini Sessions.” And now, here I am, on the other side, looking at who I’ve become. A rough sketch, but I think it’s turning out beautifully.