Dana is a friend from church. Sort of. We went to the same church for a while, and we knew of each other, but we weren’t really friends until this past year when she joined the mentoring group you’ve heard tell about. She also went to high school with my husband, which is weird sometimes when I hear stories from back in the day. Dana and her sister own a wedding planning business together, and they’ve been building a wedding venue over the past year, which has proven to be…challenging. She is a brave woman, to say the least. Here she is to tell her truth.
I was asked to contribute to this series and I immediately said Yes, Of course! Why not? Well, not even a minute goes by after I hit send and I immediately had that sinking feeling. You know that feeling when you realize that you have to dig deep inside to admit something? Whether I was 12 admitting that no, I did not put on deodorant this morning, or when I was 17 and said “I love you too.” I always, my entire life, struggled with the truth.
From the time I could remember, I found myself winding these stories to either explain away a behavior, or to make myself look better, more compassionate, more loving, and more desirable. I struggled from the depths of my soul with disappointing people. I never understood those people that just said “to hell with them! I can do whatever I want!” That idea scares the literal crap out of me.
So, to admit my truth, to dig down deep to what I know is true and clear, was hard. I spent weeks journaling, thinking, and playing around with “my truth.” I would come up with a good one, and then shoot a hole straight through it. I always came back to this one, undeniable truth – My husband loves me. Okay, you can all start gagging now – but I really started to meditate on this simple fact. I started to think about the time when I was 17 and I admitted that yes, I do love this kid. The facts were spilling out of me and I just had to sit to write it all down and contain this waterfall of emotion and truth in my life.
Sam and I met in high school. We dated through college and got married 6 weeks after we graduated. The first few years were bliss. We had normal squabbles, but truly some of the happiest times of my life were the first few years we were married. Even then, I still struggled with who I was. I felt somewhat secure in who I was in my husband, but who was I in God, in my family, in my job, in my skin, in my friends? I found myself slipping back to the unrealistic vision of who I should be. I wanted to create a more exciting life, a more spiritual one; I started working out a lot and strived to be the skinniest I ever was. I felt like I had to put on a mask with everyone. This only got worse when I had my daughter.
We decided I would finish out my year and then quit. I was so excited. I had these grand ideas about my days home with this sweet baby. It was hard. I lost a part of me. I lost the part of me that studied for years to be a teacher, who dedicated their time and energy to sports and after school activities. I saw fewer people, talked less like an adult, and just felt out of sorts. I couldn’t shake it. I made up a schedule to keep the house clean, to cook perfect meals, and to look like a person (i.e. showering, brushing my teeth – you know – being human), and I would fail.
I would fake it so well on the outside, I smiled in my MOPS group, I posted pictures of my kid who was screaming two second before with the caption “isn’t she perfect?” I would gush about staying at home and no one was the wiser. My husband would get home; I would look at him and hear, “What are we having for dinner? What did you do today?” I was hearing the lies I was telling myself. I convinced myself that he just loved the idea of who I was. The real me, the mess, the disaster, and the lost me, he did not love and he desperately wanted the idea of me back. I spent years believing this. I tried to impress him, make him see my worth, my value to this family. I never let him in on my true feelings. I kept walking through life that I was happy. To admit that I was not over the moon about being a stay at home mom, made me feel like a failure and a disappointment. I wanted to so desperately prove to him that I was the perfect mom and wife.
It took this last year to really see the man I married. We have had a tough year, lots of downs, lots of stress, and lots of honest to God depression on my end. When I listened, when I looked, I saw this man standing before me as I am blubbering away that I am so sorry I dragged us into this. And he would respond, “its okay, I love you.” I would throw my hands up saying I just can’t do this, I can’t be around this 2 year old for another minute, nothing I do is right, nothing works! He responds, “its okay, I love you.” I would sit in the bed and cry that I was terrible mom who can’t even find time to make Valentines with her daughter, that this path we are on has cost us so much and I just don’t even see the value. Instead of agreeing or getting upset that I did indeed bring us down this road he responds, “I love you Dana, always will.”
It was then that I realized I could be a mess, I could be a straight up disaster with a month long of unshaved legs and he would look at me with the most genuine smile and tell me I am beautiful, that I am loved, that I am valued. I think back to when I stopped feeling the need to lie. To start being honest – I feel crappy. I feel angry. I feel so tired, so lonely, and so.. and it was with him. I could dig down to the ugly parts of me and serve it on a platter and he would take it and say, “but, I love you – YOU Dana.”
There is something freeing about finally believing a truth you have so desperately been praying and seeking for. It is a sense of peace, of knowing how perfect the world actually is. When I curl into his arm at night and we fit perfectly like two jigsaw puzzle pieces, I know that this was God’s perfect and ultimate plan for me. He gave me a man that is able to give me something no one in my life could ever give me. The comfort to speak truth and believe I am not ugly for it. I am not considered a waste, a disappointment, or even tossable, but I am loved. His simple words, simple actions brought me to my knees with God. If my husband can love me this much, how much does Jesus love me? How much does he desire to see my ugliness, take it and tell me I am loved? The thought is unfathomable. I will never really know. But what I do know without a shadow of doubt, as sure as I am that God laid down his life for me, my husband loves me. And that my friends, is my truth.
For more from Dana, here is her business blog. Check it out, and if you are getting married, HIRE HER IMMEDIATELY. If I could go back and change one thing about my wedding, that’s what it would be. She and her sister ran my wedding day, and it was the best thing ever. I just wish I had hired her to plan the whole thing.