Monday, October 17, 2022

Honeymoon vs "Normal"

This is going to be a super-short post. (I know, I know... you are wondering which alien kidnapped Tracy and/or is writing through her.)

I'm tired of being negative but I need to vent.

The wedding weekend was incredibly stressful but had many fun moments. The wedding was somewhat stressful but overall was wonderful. The honeymoon was slightly stressful but was overall amazing. Even though I'd call it a success overall, there was a part of me that was ready to get back to normal life.

That didn't happen... not even close.

It was like a Top Gun plane launching without any runway to build up speed. We had enough time to run by the house and unpack before heading off to a big dance performance shoot. 

This was the first time I had ever done a dance shoot without attending the rehearsal because I wanted one more day of honeymoon before starting regular life again. I felt we were experienced enough to not have to see the dances to get really good images. But I forgot about something...

Just about every rehearsal I have to stick up for myself and for the photography by insisting that the person doing lighting gives me more than is his/her usual. For really good shots of any kind of action - like dance - a lot of light is not only desired, but it's necessary. 

I wasn't there to fight with the lighting tech at the rehearsal... and I paid for it during editing. I had to spend 2x-3x more time on each image to make it look right because of the dramatic lighting that had been used.

This editing was happening while I was trying to unpack from the wedding, unpack from the honeymoon, and unpack my husband's things from his apartment. I also had a lot of other work that I needed to catch up on after mostly taking off the weeks before and after the wedding.

Then on the Monday after we got back, having been married only 8 days, my mom had surgery on her feet. She was supposed to be able to walk (with boots) immediately after the surgery was over.

That didn't happen... not even close.

My focus went towards helping her while still trying to put things away. Work was put off even longer except for a few things I already had scheduled. I got almost nothing work-wise done that week. My new target for getting back into my old work routine (as much as I ever had one) was today.

That didn't happen... not even close.

My mom's left foot was badly infected. She called her doctor and they told her to go to the ER. My oldest brother recently retired and I thought he would be available to go with her. 

He wasn't - at least not at first.

So I spent the majority of my first day back to "normal" at the ER with my mom. I didn't get any work done. I'm not going into details, but it was also one of those days where nothing seemed to go right.

It's been a rough day. 

I really try to take a breath in the middle of crappy days like this and ponder the thought that I'm married. Actually, truly, amazingly married. So many times I prayed for this. So many times I cried over this. So much energy went into worrying about what I should do if he never proposed.

It's been tough to enjoy this time. It's the 15th day of our marriage and I'm so tired, so over life as it is right now. 

But I'm working on not dwelling on all that but instead thinking about how God answered all those prayers, tears, and worry-filled moments by providing an amazing husband for me.

Me. 

I'm still in awe. And this may be cliche', but I'm hoping this might encourage someone who reads this, someone who is also having a crappy day (or week, or month, or even year), to think about what is going right and to not get caught up in the junk. If it happened to me, it can happen to anyone.


Tuesday, October 4, 2022

How the 12-Steps and Quality Mental Health Therapy Can Affect Life, Not Just Addiction

(Trigger alert... mention of suicidal thoughts)

It's Tuesday, October 4th and I'm on my honeymoon. My husband (a word that's still very weird to say concerning him) is a late sleeper and I'm an early riser. I've avoided getting on my computer/laptop for the last few days - due to a packed weekend of wedding activities from Friday until Sunday then resting once we got to our honeymoon destination.

I wanted to check my email and catch up on a few work activities for a few minutes this morning.

I've reflected a lot on the wedding ceremony and the weekend before a lot while on the honeymoon. For the past six months, I've spent hundreds of hours planning this wedding and details about joining our lives together. 

Throughout the process, my mental health issues interfered. From anxiety getting the best of me, to brain fog making it hard to remember what I had just done, to depression or mania just getting in the way of getting anything productive accomplished, there were many times it was a struggle.

My biggest fear was that I would do something that would mess up the wedding. You see, I've been married before. My first wedding was beautiful, but it had some big mistakes. When I think about that wedding, those issues are all I remember. I didn't want that to happen again.

To help work on that problem, I put at the top of the "Detailed Program Notes" this message:

    REMINDER FOR TRACY - and anyone else who might need to know:

        IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG, JUST PICK UP AND KEEP GOING.

        PERFECTION AND FORMALITY ARE NOT THE GOALS...

        HAVING FUN AND SHARING LOVE ARE.

It was a big realization when crap started hitting the fan in the weeks before the wedding as I made that note about the ceremony, not the process of getting there. (Read about that here: https://www.spotlightonstigma.com/2022/09/wedding-rehearsal-day-and-my-dads-in.html)

You need to know that I've been in counseling for years and I've been in 12-Step recovery for about 4 1/2 years now. A major tenet in 12-Step programs is "Progress, not Perfection." Though not worded so succinctly, this is also one of the main mental health challenges I have worked on in therapy - that I don't have to be perfect to be progressing.

If I look at it through the lens of - Did I stay calm when all the adversity happened? Did I use what I've learned to keep going and not get incredibly discouraged? Did I "have fun" throughout the entire process? - then it would be a big FAIL. In fact, one night I got lower than I've been in at least a couple of years and I really thought about taking a bunch of pills because I felt like I couldn't do anything right.

When I look back over this past weekend, was it perfect? Hell, no! There were a lot of little things I wish I could go back and change - the main one being that I wish I could have stayed calmer when all my planning didn't mean a thing as we had to deal with one unanticipated problem after another.

In fact, the rehearsal went so badly, I had no idea if we would even get the basics I had planned accomplished.

HOWEVER... overall, I had fun. I took time to do some unplanned things, like showing my two best friends who live out of state the spot where my now-husband and I spent many of our earliest dates. I played card games with my family and friends, when there was a part of me who wanted to go over the wedding ceremony a few more times to make sure I hadn't missed anything. I really stayed "in the moment" during our after-rehearsal dinner and had a great time with my family and friends.

And when the ceremony didn't go as planned, I literally just laughed and kept going. The biggest blunder was during our unity ceremony. I had planned a sand ceremony but there was no way to practice it and be able to tell how long it would take for the sand to funnel into the receptacle. 

We ended up playing the song we were using while we were doing it ("Family" by Dolly Parton) twice and still hadn't even filled it halfway. I made jokes while the sand was SLOWLY funneling in, like looking at my non-existent watch, tapping my foot, and sighing pathetically. Everyone laughed with us as we decided to abandon it and finish it during the reception. 

Several times the officiant got off the script - or I interrupted him because I THOUGHT he had gotten parts out of order. But it didn't bother me, him, or anyone else there. 

My husband messed up signing correctly part of one song we did in ASL - a part that we had practiced so much and that he had finally gotten down. We both just laughed about it later.

The worst - and funniest - part was during the recessional. As my ringbearer and her owner (the ringbearer was my daughter's emotional support animal) were leaving, one of my aunts stopped her and wanted to get Jake's picture. As my husband and I had planned an "encore" (I called the wedding "the greatest show on earth"), she needed to be out of the ceremony area before we came in. 

But with a lot of "encouragement" (me yelling from the door where my husband and I had exited), she got out just in time for us to come back in.

Oh, one other thing. I'm a meticulous planner, especially for vacations. I try to figure out all the options of what activities we can do while gone; I use lists to make sure I pack all needed items; and I clean before I leave so I can come home to a nice environment.

THAT didn't happen. My husband and I just wanted to get going. We hadn't had time to pack the night  before like we had planned and so we packed frantically. We both forgot several items we wish we had remembered. 

But you know what? It's been okay. We've made it work with what we brought. 

Overall, the whole process was nowhere near perfect. I didn't handle the problems "perfectly" (to say the least!) at least not until the actual wedding. I wasn't completely organized or prepared the way I had wanted to be. 

And you know what else? I don't look back at the wedding and have a visceral reaction because of all that went wrong. I can think about my wedding and smile - because of all that went right. 

It may have taken 32 years between the two weddings, but this is just one more example of "Progress, Not Perfection."

Note: if you want to see the fun we had - and all of the mistakes - feel free to go to our wedding website and watch the recordings. Look for the "Recordings" tab on loveca.st/TravisandTracy (yes, the period is supposed to be there). If you do watch it and notice how therapy and the 12-Steps have helped in a real-life example, please leave a comment in our guest book on that same site.