This year, The Guy and I decided to keep that tree, and use it as our one and only. No expensive, six foot tall tree could replace three and a half feet of cheap plastic, that has always had pride and strength hanging from its branches.
It felt amazing.
Now that the dust has settled a bit on my surprise marriage, everyone keeps asking me the universal standard "First Year of Marriage Question," which if you were unaware, is "Sooooooo, how is married life?"
And it's funny, because it almost makes me wonder if there are people who really answer "it sucks. Honestly, I wish I had never done it. I'm like a week in and I already have one foot out the door and another stepping into the grave."
Because there would be nothing awkward about that...
But since I'm
Which is true.
And sometimes awkward.
Like when I'm stuck in single mom mode, and I'm racing through the day, trying to help the kid's get their homework done, and feed them dinner, while I simultaneously write an article, and suddenly The Guy walks in the door, and I'm all "oh... hey there... you... sexy man you... who I forgot lives here now... and probably also wants dinner... and so... um... sorry we ate already and... I love you!"
I'm so awesome.
Or when I get myself all ready to work from my bed because I didn't finish half of what I needed to get done, and I get my computer set-up and all my files spread out, and then he walks into the room in his pajamas and is all "um... so... I live here now... and sleep here... and you're sitting on my pillow."
The leg lamp lives on!
Basically he probably got the short end of the stick in the welcome committee - hospitality department of my house, because the poor guy got stuck with me. I mean really, what wife, FORGETS that her husband LIVES IN THEIR HOUSE?
(Shyly raises hand)
And it's not even that I forget about him, it's just that after years of perfecting my routine in a way that sometimes has me functioning in robot mode, I just get so caught up in the daily grind of work/kids/house managing/life, that I continue to run in autopilot. Especially when he is home far less than me and the kids are, and when he isn't there and I'm not actively looking at his laundry, it almost appears as if nothing has changed.
Did I tell you that he moved in with me and the kids, rather than us moving in with him, or getting a place together?
When we began to talk marriage, where we would live was obviously something that we needed to agree on. He had a house a few towns over, and I had the house where I was living. Although he initially wanted us to move closer to him, I just felt that after a lifetime of instability, and so many recent changes for the kids, that it was best to stay here. Because of my nonprofit, I have a lot more ties to my community than he has to his, the kids go to school across the street, I've built myself an amazing network of neighbors and friends that I often rely on heavily, and if I'm being truthful here, I have fought so hard to keep this place, that I couldn't imagine letting it go.
Thankfully, neither could my husband.
He is yellow, I am blue
I love him.
So here we are, a new little family, living in the home that I adore, and working on settling into our new routine.
Yet marriage, to me, is still a little scary.
I love my husband, but I've been married before, and there's a lot of things that I often associate with the word marriage; pain, heartbreak, disappointment, infidelity, abuse, and abandonment.
Marriage, has never been anything other than hurtful to me, but one of the things that really made me realize how ready I was to try this again with my new husband, was the realization that I wasn't scared to try again.
I wasn't afraid to start over, because I was ready to start over with him.
A few weeks ago I was sitting in church, and the Pastor was talking about starting over. In a movie theater type atmosphere with the lights down low and all attention on the message we were discussing on the screen, I was really getting into the sermon.
Naturally, thinking of you guys and this post that I was planning to write, I decided to snap a picture.
You guys, the flash was on. My Future In-Law friend was sitting next to me, and I thought that she was going to die from both embarrassment, and suffocation on her own laughter.
Smooth move Eden.
But anyway, uh, hey everyone... I got the shot!
Unfortunately for me though, I will never hear the end of it, and now when I get to church and put my phone on silent, my Future In-Law Friend asks me if I'm putting it on "Church Mode," aka, turning the flash on.
Good gosh. You shine a spotlight over a darkened crowd just one time, and no one ever lets you live it down.
But ANYWAY, my point is that I really am starting over. This isn't Marriage: Part 2 (or 3), this is a fresh start, and just like everything that I've done over the past few years, I intend to do this the right way. But never having had any great role models in the relationship department, and knowing what domestic violence has done to my way of thinking, I'm the first one to admit that there are things that I probably don't even know, that I don't know.
So because of that, The Guy and I are already in counseling.
True Story, and it was something that we decided on before we even got married.
I really don't think that there is anything wrong with having a counselor walk us through our changing dynamic, and assist us as we transition from a bachelor who has never had the responsibility of a family, and a single mom who has been very hurt in the past, to a family who functions in a healthy and loving way.
I like healthy, I like loving.
We are both aware that our situation could be the recipe for disaster, and because of that we are both committed to staying ahead of the game, and making sure that we have the necessary tools to fix any issues that might arise.
So I guess, to answer everyone's question, married life is great, and we are already in counseling!
Nothing awkward about that answer.
The thing is, there are tons of situations in life that we are going to face, and unfortunately, it often isn't until we do so, that we realize how unprepared we are to handle it. Whether it's beginning the healing process after a sexual assault, or taking a leap of faith into a new job, we may face situations where we know that the end result will be worth it, yet we aren't sure how to navigate the path to get there.
And that is OK.
That is normal.
Despite what evolution may have us thinking, life was not created so that only perfect people could succeed.
First of all, there are no perfect people, and secondly, we all make mistakes.
Growth comes from learning, and sometimes that learning is only achieved when we learn where we went wrong the first time.
It's no coincidence that when we look at history, many of our most influential people weren't all that influential until after they had failed at something so miserably, that it sparked a new direction for their second attempt.
Just ask everyone from Thomas Edison to Issac Newton, who all failed before they succeeded. And I think Benjamin Franklin put it best when he said "by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."
When I first started the nonprofit, there were a multitude of people who thought that I was insane. The comments that were left on my blog overwhelmingly suggested that most of you thought I had lost my mind. And then when I did get it up and running, many of the comments didn't let up; going as far as to say that I was outright lying because "no random person in her position is going to be able to start a nonprofit." People just did not have faith in me. At one point, even Frisbee Boy's Dad sat me down at his kitchen table, looked me square in the eyes, and said something to the effect of "I think that what you are doing is going to fail, and while I'm supportive of you, I'm not supportive of your plan."
I looked at him for a minute, never letting my gaze waiver, and then I replied "I appreciate you sharing that with me, because it's just going to drive me to work harder, since I now have another person to prove wrong."
Now, a few years later, I have proven him, and many, many, people wrong.
But the road wasn't always easy, I didn't always succeed, and I failed more often than I'd like to admit.
So here we are, several years later, and I'd like to let you in on a little secret.
When I started my nonprofit, I had ABSOLUTELY no idea what I was doing.
Many of you were right.
Yet each time I got knocked on my ass, I stood up, dusted myself off, and found someone who could help me. I'd asses the situation, realize where I'd gone wrong, and then I'd reach out to another organization that I thought might be able to help me get back on track, and I'd offer to buy their staff coffee if I could come in and ask them a few questions.
No one ever turned me down.
I have sat through more meetings than I can even count, where the sole purpose was for me to admit where I had gone wrong, and ask if anyone had any advice on how I could do better the next time around.
There is nothing wrong with admitting that you don't have all the answers.
A few weeks ago Mr. Attorney Man and I were in a meeting with the staff of a large domestic violence shelter. They were proposing a partnership between their organization and ours, and when they asked me a question that I didn't know the answer too, I admitted it.
Later, when Mr. Attorney Man and I were talking, I found myself telling him "hey, if there's anything I've learned in this business, it's that when you pretend to know something you don't, you're going to find yourself in trouble, but if you are willing to make it known that you don't know what you are doing, but you are willing to learn, you'd be surprised at how many people step up to assist you. There's success in being open to the idea that you may fail on your own."
So here I am, married, admitting that I don't have all the answers, and not willing to go charging down the path while pretending that I do. If there is anything that I learned from marrying my ex, it's that if you run too far in the wrong direction, you may not be able to find your way back in one piece.
In life, sometimes the best fresh starts come with the greatest unknowns. But the first step in crossing from old to new, is to make sure that you know where you are going, admit it when you don't, and be willing to take a little direction when needed.
I don't know what this marriage holds for me, and I won't pretend that I do, but I'm willing to learn, hoping to grow, and thankful for the opportunity to take the journey.
If you are standing at a point of divide, where the path to the greatest destination seems to be the one paved in the most unknown, do not be fooled into thinking that you are not equipped to take the journey, but rather, take solace in knowing that your first step is simply taken towards learning your direction.
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