If you want to follow the wedding fun on Instagram, we are using the hashtag #hickeybennett2014 :) We hope to see you there. I wrote this email to Esther a month before my wedding day. I didn't think I was going to share my thoughts about all of this on here... but what I've realized is that my thoughts on life's transitions are just valid as my thoughts on DIY renovations (and heck, probably more-so since getting wood stain right is not my forte).
Let me explain: I've posted before and hinted around the fact that my family is pretty messed up. That I am the one who has to say NO a lot. I am sure that a lot of my family thinks that I am mean by doing so, but I recognize that I am saying no to preserve the life that I have built for myself. E and I have repeated over and over, that my family views boundaries as aggression, instead of vehicles to build HEALTHY relationships. Since I am a boundary setter, I am the aggressive one.
Oprah always says that people teach us how they want us to treat them by their actions. My family has taught me that while they are doing the best that they can, their best leaves me frustrated, hurt, and feeling abandoned all over again. I was reading this old Dear Sugar article and it hit me that Sugar was, once again, talking to me, preparing me for this day. And when I read good stuff, I send it to Esther, cause Esther.
So here's an edited version of what I sent to E a month ago:
As the wedding stress starts to choke me out in the next few weeks, I need to remind myself of a few things. I feel like I have done this wedding perfectly: minimizing drama, making it about LB and I, going over budget when it was easier to do so, and really focusing on what is important to the two of us. Not inviting birth mom, crazy sisters, my grandma/pa, or any of those other people was the best choice I could have made FOR ME. And isn't a wedding just the perfect time to make choices for me?
And this Dear Sugar paragraph E... it IS birth mom. It just IS all of the things:
“If your father is a man worthy of your deepening affection, he’ll respect your decision even if his feelings are hurt. He’ll understand that his exclusion is not a punishment, but rather a consequence of his lifetime of poor fathering and bad behavior. He’ll tell you that there are other ways for him to celebrate your marriage and he’ll find a way to do it.
If he’s not a man worthy of your deepening affection, he’ll throw a fit. He’ll blame you for his failures. He’ll tell you that you’re selfish and mean. Possibly, he’ll X you out of his life. Or maybe it won’t mean anything to him that his conduct is so deplorable that his daughter has chosen to exclude him from her wedding. Perhaps he’ll simply let this—like so much else—roll right on by.
But you know what? No matter what he does, one thing is certain: he won’t screw up your wedding day. Which, really, sweetie, should be perfect. Or as close to perfect as it can be. And hard and sad as it is, it’s up to you alone to make it that way, just like it’s been up to you to make your perfect life.”
How interesting that birth mom not only told me I was selfish, X'd me out of her life, and called me names... she brought Trenton into it. If there was ever a defining vote for which box (worthy of affection or not) birth mom fits into, saying my brother hated me was it.
So yes, it certainly hurts my heart that my side of the family is the jacked up one… I am human. That’s normal. But when I think about how many people are coming to this wedding because they have chosen to love us and for no other reason, I am happy. And when I hear "Not with Haste" and I envision you helping me walk down the stairs, giving me a big squeeze, walking down the aisle, and turning to watch me go solo to LB, I just get all teary and happy. And that kind of happy, I can feel in my toes and bones much more than I feel the hurts that have made up my life to this point.
Anyway, sorry for the rambly. I love you and I can’t wait to cry and squeeze you.
So that is what I am doing today. Relishing in the drama-free love of those that love LB and I. Being proud of the decisions that have made this day possible. Promising to do my best to love LB in spite of it all. And crying. Lots of crying. I am one lucky girl.
As a bonus for you lucky followers... here are my vows... you are the only people in the world who have read these until about 20 minutes from right now!
Lawren, my LB.
If I can make it through these, it’ll be a miracle. I feel like I have been writing these vows in my head for a few years and yet, as I stand here in front of you and our friends and family I am blown away that 6 years ago to the day, you took me to see tropic thunder for our first date.
That said, I know that a lot of people get up here and make vows about how great their years together before the wedding have been, and how the years after will be just as great. Well, for us that would be a lie. The years leading up to this point have not been butterflies and rainbows: they have been hard fought. They have seen parents illnesses, countless Lawren surgeries, untold amounts of my family drama, law school, TFA, job losses and job gains.
We have gone through so much together that these 6 years really feel like a lifetime already. And yet, I would not change any of our struggles for any amount of butterflies and rainbows, maybe a few more beach vacations…. But, because of those years, I get to stand here and know that you are my partner. You are my best friend. You are the one that I get to make babies with. You are the one who I will love until I can’t breathe anymore, or I am just straight senile. Even then, if I go crazier, I’ll still love you deep in my bones.
But loving you isn’t really enough to build a life upon. And so, as I do look towards our future together, I want to promise you a few, real-life, we’re married now types of things:
First, and foremost, I promise that I will watch at least one Blazer game a week with you, and not watch House of Cards without you.
I promise to keep working hard on our FPU budget and to keep us focused on our financial future.
I promise to notice and acknowledge the positive things that you do, rather than get hung up on the negatives.
I promise to accept that we are different -- that we will see the world differently and over the course of our marriage we will want different things. Though I don't expect this to be easy, I will strive to be open-minded and loving about the way that you see things. Failing that, I will do my best to be tolerant.
I promise to not ask you to change in ways that I'm unwilling to change.
I promise to continually pray for us, our friends, and our family.
I promise to be in awe of the way that you know me better than I know myself. The evidence of this is in our day to day loving each other, but mostly I think about the day my brother died and how you just knew, instinctively what I needed. I’ll need more of that throughout our years together.
I promise to not take your annoying behaviors personally, even though I really, really wish you would just put my shoes away without saying anything.
I promise to keep in mind that your basic intention is to be a loving and decent husband, even when you're not doing so.
I promise to always be grateful that you rescued me in the way that I needed to be rescued. You somehow did this while still allowing me to be fiercely independent and it still boggles my mind how you were able to do that.
I promise to always put our family first, to do things that are best for our little unit and not just myself… although girl’s night and trips to see Esther are non-negotiable.
I promise to do my best to remind both of us how very lucky we are to be each other’s partners.
And mostly, Lawren, I promise to have your back. To always want what is best for you. And to love you so fiercely that I fear my heart might explode. I love you and I am so excited to be your wife.