Monday, May 9, 2011

Transitions

As life would have it, after not posting for several months, I lay down to sleep, my eyes close, and suddenly a post begins to nag at me. I have to sigh and write the thing if that little writerly voice in my head will ever let me get to sleep tonight.

Truth be told, this post has been brewing for a while, but I just now have thought of some particular ways to put things. I am not sure where I will end up here, but please forgive me if I become confusing.

Also, it is so nice to be writing something other than an analytical paper about a student.

As I was counting the omer tonight, it struck me that yesterday was 49 days to my wedding. Seven weeks until my own Shavuot, if you will--until Jughead's Hat and I stand under the Chuppah in our own, personal close moments with God, where we will begin to build our own little unit within the Jewish nation.

JH and I have had a long-ish engagement. I've had a long time to reflect on what was (and still is) happening to me, from before I met JH, to when we were dating, to now while we are engaged. And even within our engagement, there have been different stages. JH and I when we first became engaged were different than we are now, seven weeks from our wedding.

Before I was dating JH, I used to feel very frustrated. I felt like no one could ever really love me the way a boyfriend loves a girlfriend, the way a chatan loves a kallah, the way a husband loves a wife. I hardly ever got attention from boys (well, except for a few strange ones) and I did not really believe anyone I could ever love would ever love me back.

When I would look at engaged couples, I would think, "They're so lucky. Their life is set. They're going to have a beautiful wedding and then sail off into the sunny land of married people." I don't think I was alone in feeling that way.

What I realize now is that I (and I am certain many others) used to focus on all the externals of engagement and marriage. The bridal shower, the wedding, the attention, the beautiful gown, the attention from a boy, the walks, the dates, the romance. All these things are external. Even the idea of having a male person there for you and in love with you - that is wonderful and important (and don't say I didn't say so!), but it is only one aspect of the bigger picture.

What I used to not really see, and what I believe many people don't really think about (because they're so busy thinking about the other stuff), is the huge emotional transition from one way of life to another. The fearful wondering if you're really ready for everything marriage encompasses, emotionally, halachikly, and otherwise. The change in family dynamics by bringing in a new person to your tight family unit, as well as being the new person in your fiance's family.

More than ever, family has become a central focus in my life. My own family is growing, molding, and adapting, especially considering my brother got married earlier this year and already brought one (amazing) in-law into the family. And I have to learn to adapt into JH's family. We both have to figure out the balance of being part of two families, two sets of friends, two lives. It is wonderful, but it is hard. At times, I have cried over it. But you would never know that unless I told you.

People tend to think the stress of engagement comes from wedding planning. And some of it does. But a lot of it comes from this other stuff: the difficult, sometimes scary, transitions. The tugs of emotion that come with such huge change. There are transitions within our families and within ourselves. For me, the transition from unmarried to married will be the biggest transition of my life, bigger than transitioning to college or to grad school or to living in the Heights.

I cannot adequately explain what it feels like to go through these transitions. They're ones that probably are experienced differently by each person and each couple, and I believe they're only truly understood through personal experience.

There are 48 days left until my life changes forever. I'm so excited, but it is also so nerve-wracking. From the time I was born until now, I have been just Erachet, the oldest child of my family. Suddenly, I am going to become part of three families--the one I was born into, JH's, and JH and myself. It is wonderful, but it is also huge. And a huge responsibility.

I am so looking forward to being married to Jughead's Hat. I hope my post did not convey otherwise. But I did want to shed light on some of the struggles I, at least, have gone through (and am going through). Flowers, music, dresses, they are on my mind, but only when they come up. The transitions, for me, are the real challenge of engagement.