“It was a huge existential crisis and there was no way to slither out of it.” – Alanis in the Interview on her engagement transition
Embedded in every transition is the opportunity to practice letting go. When we become adolescents, we let go of being children. When we leave home for the first time, we let go of the security of living under our parents’ roof (or the illusion of security). When we move, we let go of memories and attachments connected to the old dwelling. When we become parents, we let go of the identity of being a non-parent (as well freedom, consistent sleep, the old body and the old lifestyle, and dozens of other things). With each letting go there’s an opportunity for rebirth, for just as spring cannot occur without the death and fallow stages of autumn and winter, so the new aspects of ourselves cannot grow on untilled soil. We must pull out the dead weeds if the new plants are to flourish.
When you marry, the list of “letting gos” seems endless. You must let go of attachments to the singlehood identity and lifestyle. You must transfer your primary allegiance from family of origin to partner. You must let go of the lingering ex (Lesson 2 of the E-Course).You must grieve the fantasies of what you thought love was supposed to feel like or save you from (Lesson 3 of the E-Course). In short, for many people who find themselves caught in the anxious wedding vortex, they find that at the core they must let go of an unrealistic image of life they had carried around for as long as they could remember. This unrealistic image bleeds into the wedding day so that part of the conscious work involves releasing the fantasy wedding so that they can embrace the actual one, whatever that may be.
Lesson Six of The Conscious Weddings E-Course is called “What if I Feel Like This On My Wedding Day?” It’s the shortest lesson of the course, because for women and men who work through the five preceding lessons, the ability to remain present and serene on the wedding day arrives effortlessly. The hard work pays off and they’re able to show up and accept whatever the day may bring. They’ve banished the perfectionist and can step into the flow of life. They feel alive, present, and connected to themselves, their partner, and the divine.
Alanis speaks to the process of letting go of our preconceived notions and accepting life’s lessons in her song, Ironic:
An old man turned ninety-eight
He won the lottery and died the next day
It’s a black fly in your Chardonnay
It’s a death row pardon two minutes too late
Isn’t it ironic … don’t you think
It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
Who would’ve thought … it figures
Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly
He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids good-bye
He waited his whole damn life to take that flight
And as the plane crashed down he thought
‘Well isn’t this nice…’
And isn’t it ironic … don’t you think
Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
When you think everything’s okay and everything’s going right
And life has a funny way of helping you out when
You think everything’s gone wrong and everything blows up
In your face
It’s a traffic jam when you’re already late
It’s a no-smoking sign on your cigarette break
It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife
It’s meeting the man of my dreams
And then meeting his beautiful wife
And isn’t it ironic… don’t you think
A little too ironic… and yeah I really do think…
Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
Life has a funny, funny way of helping you out
Helping you out
My clients inevitably long to move past the awful anxiety that takes hold of them during their engagement. But every time someone sticks with it and does the hard work required to battle fear, they learn the tools and garner the wisdom they need to traverse the tricky engagement terrain and arrive at their wedding day with serenity. “Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you. Life has a funny way of helping you out.” Or as another musical artist once said, “You don’t always get what you want, but you get what you need.” An anxious engagement might not be what you imagined or wanted, but it’s exactly what you need to prepare yourself for the marriage transition – and for every transition for the rest of your life.
Sheryl Paul, M.A., is regarded as an international expert in transitions. In 1998, she pioneered the field of bridal counseling and has since counseled thousands of people worldwide through her private practice, her bestselling books, “The Conscious Bride” and “The Conscious Bride’s Wedding Planner,” her websites,www.consciousweddings.com and www.consciousmotherhood.com, and her blog, http://conscious-transitions.com. She has appeared several times on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, as well as on “Good Morning America” and other top television, radio, and newspapers around the globe. Phone and Skype sessions are available internationally for all types of transitions and ongoing counseling. She lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband and two young sons.