“Your life always seems so perfect!”
Wes and I were able to spend some time in Asheville for Thanksgiving, and while shopping on Black Friday, I ran into a few friends I had not seen in a really long time. While catching up with one particular friend, she said, “I have loved keeping up with you on Facebook. Your life always seems so perfect!” Graciously, I smiled and gave her my thanks, but her words have not left my thoughts.
A perfect life?! Was she crazy? My life is great, don’t get me wrong. But, tonight especially, on the eve of my two-year wedding anniversary, I wanted to share some of the NOT perfect moments we have experienced.
Planning our wedding was one of the most stressful times of my entire life. I was finishing school (full-time), earning very little money at work (part-time), and had limited time to put anything together. Wes took on the majority of the planning, and paying, causing mental and emotional (and financial) stress for both of us.
In the first few months of our marriage, Wes struggled severely with anxiety, and I had no idea how to help him. While his brain was inexplicably producing all the worst-case scenarios, I was blankly staring while he was silently begging for help. I was absent and helpless, leaving Wes to basically fend for himself during the healing process.
We have moved three times since we’ve been married. THREE TIMES in two years! I don’t know about y’all, but I think moving is the absolute worst.
I constantly question whether I’m doing an okay job as a stepmom. My husband and the girls’ mother have done such a flawless job raising two amazing young ladies, and every single day, I worry I will be the one to monumentally screw something up.
And…speaking of parenthood…
In this past month, which has been one of the hardest of our marriage, we found out that our pregnancy, which had not yet been announced, was going to end in a miscarriage. For two weeks, I have been examined, poked and prodded, and all Wes could do was stand beside me with my hands wrapped in his, wiping away the tears.
So, here’s the thing about my life…
It’s not perfect.
It’s hard. It’s unbearable. At times, it seems impossible to survive.
But that’s in fact what we do. We survive.
All of that stress from wedding planning resulted in an amazing, beautiful, indescribable celebration of the love Wes and I have for each other.
Wes and I found a core group of people who helped us walk through the anxiety, and now both of us can see warning signs of anxiety approaching, stopping the issues before they even start.
Our third (and hopefully final) move has landed us in a gorgeous house, surrounded by acres of scenic farmland and mountains. We have enough bedrooms to have our friends and family spend the night, as well as a dining room large enough to host all our college kids for holiday meals.
I have spent so much time thinking I’m not making an impact on the lives of Savanna and Larson, and then Savanna tells me she’s working really hard in her science class so she can go to UNC-Wilmington and be a marine biologist (a suggestion I made to her two years ago). Or Larson says she can’t wait to tell her friends she got to eat ice cream and spend the day with Miss Blair all by herself.
On the night the doctors told us we would lose our baby, Wes and I had to drive Savanna down the mountain for a softball workout. While the two of them were practicing hitting, I stayed in the car crying and praying. To be honest, I was mad at God. I kept asking why this was happening and what I had done to deserve this pain. Through the tears and the grief and the anger, a beautiful revelation played out in my mind. God wasn’t mad at me. He didn’t have plans of payback for me. What was God was doing, right there in the car with me, was wrapping His arms around me, probably thrilled I was speaking directly to Him. What I felt…and learned…in that moment was that God prefers our sad/angry words over our happy/content silence. And that wisdom has carried me through these last few agonizing weeks.
In the Spring of 2013, I bought a glass vase and a pack of construction paper. After cutting that pack of paper into small strips, I instructed Wes to begin writing things he loved about me and us on those pieces of paper, fold them up, and put them in the vase. Tonight, we poured out that vase, distributed the papers, and read them out loud to each other. Some were very simple (“I love that you will wake up early on a Saturday to mow our lawn”), while others were significantly more emotional (“I am so excited to propose to you in a few days!”). It was one of the sweetest and most romantic hours we’ve ever spent together, and one I hope to never forget. Now as I sit here, remembering and writing about our life together, my friend’s words continue to replay over and over in my mind.
Yes, life can be hard and unbearable. And seemingly impossible to survive.
Tonight, however, sitting with my husband in our beautifully decorated living room of a house we love, sharing memories of our two-plus years together, planning Christmas week with Savanna and Larson reflecting on how far we’ve come mentally and emotionally, toasting with our glasses of wine, a new set of words is rolling around in my mind:
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I’ve ended up where I needed to be.”
Turns out that where I have ended up, sharing this life with the most incredible husband, navigating the obstacles with which we’ve been faced, is actually better than perfect.