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Yesterday my niece got married to the man she calls her soul mate. Her brother gave a wonderful speech about their unique attributes and ways of doing and being as he officiated over their union. Ultimately the message was that these two individuals had their own way of doing things and that was okay, because it worked for them.
Throughout the day I watched the bride and groom, as a silent observer of a ritual that in the best case scenario would be a time of joy for all involved and a day celebration. However, as people do whenever large gatherings of diverse folk gather, talk emerged that was less than positive, that tried to put a shade on their brightness. While some remained positive and upbeat speculating they will be forever together, “to the moon and back” as they couple likes to say. Others were more cynical, shaking their heads about “young love” and wondering how long it would last citing other family failures at the marriage game as proof that these moments were only fleeting.
In the American culture of divorce, I’ve found that many people simply see marriage vows as a stepping stone to the next better option. I like my belief that he sees no reason why the happy couple would ever part because they are so suited to one another. I guess I have an inner romantic curled up inside somewhere. Still, in the midst of the happy day my own cynicism about marriage popped up when I found myself praising the officiant for his words and demeanor, and offhandedly stating that if I ever made the “mistake of getting married again” I just might call him to perform the service.
It was at that moment my inner wounded self stopped and took a pause. Did I really see marriage as a mistake – all marriage, or just mine? It was in that reflection that my inner wounded woman healed a bit, by acknowledging the pain of my own divorce and I was able to just breathe and let it go – again – apparently that pain still lingered like a festering splinter and chose that moment to send out a shot of pus. So, I’ve been mulling over one seemingly simple, but oh so complex question – do I see the institution of marriage as a mistake?
I realized just how closed off I had become to even the notion of a life partner because of the sour taste left in my soul from my less than satisfactory union with my ex. However, I also recognized that my authentic self was never truly into marriage which I viewed from an early age as a legal contract, a piece of paper that affords certain perks and benefits in terms of taxes and insurance rather than a bond of love. I’m not sure when exactly that belief crept into my psyche but it was early and it stuck hard and deep despite being from a family where divorce wasn’t really considered an option, until of course, I made that choice for my own life.
Yesterday when posting on Facebook about my nieces marriage day celebration I wrote, “Today is a new day to begin.” I believe that every day. Although our past experiences may cling to us untended and crop up begging for release in unguarded moments, I think we can choose how to start each day despite that excess baggage we all carry in our hearts and souls from past wounds left open. It does take effort though, and intention.
So today I choose to start by being mindful of my past experiences and seeking that they don’t cloud opportunity when it arises. What I do know is that tightly clamping down on your heart with a fist doesn’t allow for connection. It just causes pain which eventually bursts and makes for awkward conversational moments when it spills over. Now that I have bled that artery maybe I can truly heal from the past strictures I allowed myself to place on my love boundaries.
Consider opening your heart or your hand to another today. Extend yourself just a little bit. Reciprocity is essential if any sort of human union is to be formed whether it is through the journey of romantic love or friendship. Me – I’m going to start this day by being less closed off, more open, extending a hand and a heart toward connection wherever that path may lead, even though I’ve discovered that for me marriage is something that won’t be served up in celebration for my own future because somewhere, deep down, I see it as a risky business decision rather than a bond of love. We all have our own way of doing things, and that’s okay. I’m still figuring out what works for me.