THE TENSION IS THICK
The other day, my therapist and I laughed about the fact that I’ve been to a lot of weddings lately, which is true. By the end of October, I will have been to 10 weddings in the last year and a half, and 3 of those weddings will all have been in the month of October. Having gone to a small Christian college, this number may seem absurd to some and just about par for the course for others. But I think I’d probably also lean on the side of saying that I’ve been to a lot of weddings in the last year and a half, and I know for a fact that I already have at least 4 weddings to go to next summer, still almost a year away. (Then again, a friend of mine did mention to me last summer that they had been invited to 14 weddings just over the summer, but I digress.)
I think about that number quite a bit as I think on the last year or so. 10 weddings amounts to a little more than one every other month if you average it out, and I think I’ve definitely been feeling that in my spirit lately.
I don’t write about this specific set of feelings for a variety of reasons: not wanting to come across the wrong way as being annoyed or ungrateful that I’ve been invited to be part of a wonderful day for so many of my friends, not wanting to seem like I’m self-pitying or anything like that, and also the fact that I genuinely enjoy going to all these weddings. They’re immensely joyful and fun, and I’m truly honored to be able to be present with my friends on these days, but the hours (and sometimes days) after all the weddings are always a little hard if I’m being honest.
THE HOURS (AND SOMETIMES DAYS) AFTER ALL THE WEDDINGS ARE ALWAYS A LITTLE HARD IF I’M BEING HONEST
Most of the time, it’s easy to laugh this off as being part of the Bethel effect or some similar quip about small Christian colleges, and Christian subculture to an extent as well. I would say that I definitely grew up being implicitly taught to idolize marriage and weddings, and despite all the therapy and “deprogramming” I’ve worked for, I think there are still some remnants of that line of thinking that remain. After all, the very first wedding I attended without my family was when I was 16-years old, and my friend who was getting married at the time was only 19, just 3 years older than me. Perhaps this complexity of the way I was raised and socialized to view marriage and weddings can partially explain the depth of conflicting emotions I often find myself trying to push away or stuff down in the days and weeks surrounding the weddings I’ve been to.
And perhaps to understand this to the fullest extent, I have to explain something that I haven’t talked a whole lot about in detail, especially on here. Part of the catalyst to me starting to blog regularly again at the beginning of the year was the end of what was probably the most significant relationship I’ve ever had, and I still fight with myself over whether or not to put quotation marks around the word relationship. (If you know me well, you know why.)
I don’t feel the need, and I don’t necessarily think it would be respectful to get into a lot of the detail surrounding this whole situation, but I think the important aspect of it all from my viewpoint was that…I really saw myself being able to marry this boy someday in the future. And if I’m being truly honest, and as a demisexual, I still can’t picture myself with anyone else most days. That’s how serious it was in my mind, especially because of how well he really knew me and how well I really knew him. As a demisexual, that’s essentially everything. In some ways, this whole paragraph sounds stupid even to type, but I think that’s the framework I find myself bringing into every wedding I go to. Perhaps naive and wishful as it may be, I really thought he was going to be the one, as much as my super hopeful Christian 18-, 20-, and 21-year old selves could’ve believed that. And every time I step foot into a wedding venue, there’s this sense of trying to fight back feelings of grief over walking into someone else’s reality that I feel as though I lost for myself.
Then of course there’s all the usual fare of queer/Christian drama and trauma. Would these people still be here in joyful support of this wedding if it was a queer couple? Would that pastor marry me and my partner? Or would there be a protest? Or would they use the Bible to “prove” that it was disgusting? You know, all the basic things.
I REALLY SAW MYSELF BEING ABLE TO MARRY THIS BOY SOMEDAY IN THE FUTURE
So, it’s all the things.
And one of the hardest things about this flurry of emotions and reactions and feelings every time I walk into a wedding is that each one I walk into is a wedding of at least one of my truly close friends, and that only makes me feel more guilty for bringing all of this baggage, for lack of a better term, into the space. And I think this is more because of what I explained in the previous section than because of the queer/Christian trauma surrounding marriage and weddings and relationships.
Maybe I’m deluding myself, but in my mind, it almost feels like I already had exactly what those two people have, at some point in the past, and by literally no one’s fault at all, that’s no longer the case. So, perhaps I’m being arrogant, but at least in my mind, it feels like an even more profound sense of grief or loss than simply being a single person who would very much like not to be single (eventually) walking into a wedding. (I’ve got no sympathy for the incels, ok?) In many ways, it felt (and still sort of feels) like I had already found my person, and now that person is gone.
These are the things I almost always think about on the drive home from weddings and in the hours after. And they’re the things that I wish I didn’t always think then, because I don’t like feeling sorry for myself. And I truly love going to friends’ weddings. AND at the same time, these are the things that get dredged up. Every. Time. They coexist, and I kind of hate that, because all these thoughts swirling around inside make me feel like one of the most selfish people on the planet, and yet, those things remain in my headspace.
IN MANY WAYS, IT FELT LIKE I HAD ALREADY FOUND MY PERSON, AND NOW THAT PERSON IS GONE
In the end, I know I don’t want to sound like one of those whiny single millennials, because, okay, I KNOW that life will come around and everything will work out the way that it’s supposed to at the end of the day. Concurrently to acknowledging and believing that, things are still hard when it comes to watching all of your close friends get married one at a time. And again,I know that all the accompanying feelings are only intensified and magnified by all the queer/Christian trauma that’s pervaded the last 8 or so years of my life. I know that’s a huge factor to all of this too, and at the same time, that doesn’t stop me from feeling every bit of the intensified, magnified emotions that comes along with all that.
It’s difficult and feels like I’m being torn apart inside to constantly be battling equally strong tides of immense joy and immense grief whenever I walk into a wedding, but I just know that this is how things are going to be for the time being.
I’m still working to remind myself that just because I didn’t get married by the time I turned 22 and because I didn’t meet my future partner in college, just like everyone else* who went to a small Christian college, doesn’t mean that I’m behind the curve or I’ve missed a milestone or anything like that. I know all those things, and I guess part of the struggle is just reconciling that with all the powerful rushes of emotions that get triggered with things like this.
IT FEELS LIKE I’M BEING TORN APART INSIDE TO CONSTANTLY BATTLE EQUALLY STRONG TIDES OF IMMENSE JOY AND IMMENSE GRIEF WHENEVER I WALK INTO A WEDDING
Tl;dr: weddings are hard for a lot of reasons, and I would suspect that this is likely true for a lot of queer people who have had to deal with traumatic talk around queerness, marriage, and relationships. Or at least, I hope it’s not just me, though that could be the case, I suppose.
Until I figure out a way to ease some of these tensions, these are the things I walk into weddings holding. I love my friends and the fact that they want me to present on their special days. It’s simultaneously one of my favorite things to do and one of the things that incites the most dread in my soul, just because I know I’ll be wrestling with all these things periodically throughout the night and definitely on my drive home.
But such is the way that life tends to unfold, with equal parts light and darkness. And I think in a lot of ways, that helps our lives hold more meaning. And I can only hope that these kinds of things will make me more empathetic.
And I guess that just leads me to think and wonder about what the hours after my own wedding will look like. I have absolutely no idea when that might be, but I hope that whenever it comes to pass that I’ll be reminded of all the nights I drove home from other weddings and say and prayer and blessing and reach out to the people I know who might be feeling similarly then.
Until then, I stand in the tension. And it is thick, but another word often used in the same context as thick is rich, and I imagine and hope that’s what this tension creates in my life, richness.
Thanks for reading this post. If it resonated with you and you found yourself in agreement, please consider sharing and/or liking this post and subscribing to my blog via email. If it stirred up thoughts inside of you regarding this topic, let your voice be heard in the comments below. Let's talk about this. And if you want to get in touch about this post or anything else, send me a note!
Thanks for stopping by!