Bittersweet Wedding Bells

DSC03873I recently attended the wedding of one of my best friends. Let me repeat that; I recently attended the wedding of one of my best friends. It may not mean a lot to you, but it does to me.

Before the wedding, I had the chance to catch up with a dear friend as we drove the three hours from Chicago to Kalamazoo. She kept saying, “can you believe Sandy’s getting married? can you believe it?” and I kept saying, “ya, crazy, I guess I haven’t thought much about it…” and thinking “dude, get a grip, she’s getting married, big deal.” But the more she repeated the phrase, the more I realized I hadn’t thought much about Sandy getting married. I had thought about the wedding, and seeing her in her wedding dress, and reuniting with the rest of my grad school friends…but not about losing my single friend to marriage or-gasp!- sharing her with her husband.

As the wedding approached, I realized it was a mistake not to process what it would be like to see Sandy get married. Sandy is a part of a three person “triad” I developed in grad school. During our first semester of our clinical psych program, we had to choose two other people to practice “therapy” on. Sandy and HaYoung were mine, and we didn’t stop after the first semester like most of our cohort. We met weekly for the next two years to process through everything going on in our lives- past and present. Sandy was a rock for me in those years. She modeled the strength in vulnerability for me and then she was completely reliable and supportive when I finally learned to be vulnerable myself. Her loyalty to me has not wavered.

As I sat in her house watching her nervously not eat lunch, in the church watching her put her dress on, and in the pew watching her sign her life over to the dark side (come on, just a little cynical single girl humor:), I felt myself experiencing a myriad of emotions.

Happy. I love Sandy and I love Mark. I was very excited when they got together, because I knew it meant that Mark would remain in my life for much longer than he would have had they not married. I trust Mark to love Sandy as she deserves, and I truly look forward to seeing the fun and fulfilling life that I hope they’ll have together.

Sad. I couldn’t help but realize what this meant for our relationship. There probably won’t be any more random, last minute, triad reunions. No more feeling like I’m the one Sandy turns to first to share her happiest moments or deepest struggles. No more sharing the fact that she, HaYoung and I were all struggling through post-college, late-20s, singleness together.

Mournful. It sunk in that Sandy would be moving to the East coast, much too far for any weekend visits. This is a significant goodbye.

Bitter. I unexpectedly felt abandoned, much as I felt two years ago as I watched my twin sister walk down the isle. Even though it’s completely unfair, in both cases it felt like they were choosing someone else over me.

Cynical. Part of me is annoyed that I’m supposed to rejoice in my friend joining the ranks of people that see me as an incomplete person because I’m not yet married.

Okay, so I acknowledge that most of these emotions are negative (and I’m hoping that wasn’t apparent to Sandy through my facial expressions), but once I work through them (and I have to some extent already) I know that the happiness piece will be stronger. I do honestly desire what’s best for Sandy, and I am confident that life with Mark is it.

Additionally, during the weekend of the wedding I had the privilege of spending time with many of my AMAZING single (and one non-single) friends. It was so refreshing to spend time just hanging around talking to one another. Since most of us went through our psych program together, we have a depth and a connection in our relationships that allow us to talk deeper than just surface level. I thoroughly appreciated this time of being single that allowed me to hang with the girls painting nails, having a sleepover, dancing like it was going out of style, playing games, having wine and cheese, making fondue, sleeping on the roof, and just being completely ridiculous.

I know Sandy and I will remain friends, and that knowledge comforts me more than any of the other emotions can scare me. But I also know our friendship will change. And that makes be sad, but that’s okay. It’s legitimate to mourn the loss of what was special to me. But I also look forward to what some of these changes may bring and to sharing with Sandy this new phase of her life. I’m blessed to know Sandy, and I’m sure I will continue to be blessed by her friendship- single or married.

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4 thoughts on “Bittersweet Wedding Bells

  1. you’re right- there is definitely loss. and i’m wondering if the “gain” part is when we* actually step into marriage ourselves. dm will have by then plethora of bits to share that you can fully appreciate when in similar circumstance- at least “similar” in certain aspects. so maybe there is loss, but there is also lots to look forward to. (when that day finally comes?;))

    1. Yes, I think there will be a newfound gain when/if I get married…but I think there might be some gains before then even…maybe ones we won’t understand until they come…?

  2. I liked how you expressed all the conflicted emotions that go along with it. I felt a lot of this when my sister got married … and that was three years after my own wedding.

    So annoying that I’m giving advice like a mother or something *but* just keep in mind that even though Sandy’s the one who gained a partner, she’s probably still experiencing a lot of the changes and mourning that you are too, just differently. First years of marriage can be *really* lonely. I remember feeling very abandoned by my single friends and just wanting them to call, etc. It was hard negotiating the new identity. And moving to (what?) Delaware will probably make it that much more tricky. Ha! Now I feel better. The things I couldn’t tell my college friends at the time I’ll just tell you instead:)

    1. I’m sure you’re not too surprised at the myriad of emotions, since you kept calling me out during the wedding;)

      and seriously, I appreciate the advice. I figured Sandy will prob have some stuff going on, so I’ve been looking forward to talking to her once she gets all settled.

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