What My First Wedding Taught Me

Two years ago, my fiance and I were driving from Raleigh, NC, where we lived at the time, down to Hilton Head Island, SC where we were to be married. 10/7/16 was our wedding date. I had written that date on invitations, on the back of pictures, I had scribbled hearts and “S+T” all over that date in my planner. 18 months of planning my dream destination wedding with my favorite human and it was all finally happening.

Look at this place, who wouldn’t be cool with getting married here?

There was one problem. The weather was not cooperating. There was a hurricane, Hurricane Matthew, making it’s way up the east coast. All projections had it avoiding Hilton Head. We were just supposed to get rain and wind. We had already made arrangements to move the wedding inside to a shitty conference room and ordered clear umbrellas for all the guests. I was not happy about this, but had resigned to that reality.

Half way into our trip we got a phone call from a friend asking what we were going to do. We explained the new arrangements and he replied..

“No, the hurricane is going to make landfall, they are evacuating the island. No one can get on the island.” 

I will never forget the way those words made me feel. I actually feel the same way every time I remember this moment.

My entire body felt like it was on fire. My chest burned. I felt sick to my stomach.

My first concern, my parents were on the island, would they be able to get off? Next, what about all of our guests coming in?  Then, what about us?

Now. Something you should know about me, prior to this moment, I was a meltdown queen. If things did not go the way as planned, at the first sight of chaos, meltdown. I remember Tom looking at me expectantly, waiting for me to spiral.

Instead, looking at him made that hot feeling wash away and I said, “Okay, what now?” 

That moment changed my life.

I know, I know, that sounds dramatic as fuck, but seriously. It changed my life. I realized, there was not a damn thing I could do about a hurricane coming in. I knew melting down would not do me any good. I knew crying and screaming “Why me?! It’s not fair!” was not going to change the facts. I knew I had a solid partner. I knew we could make it work.

So, we turned around. We called all our guests. Those who could come to Raleigh rerouted their trips. We talked about trying to get married at the court house and having a party afterwards at our friend/cousins’ home. After talking with family we decided to wait to get married but still celebrate. It ended up being an amazing weekend with a lot of our family and closest friends around us. It really was one of my favorite weekends ever.

Now, I would be lying if I told you I did not struggle after that weekend. Tom went back to work in the midwest. I was alone in Raleigh at a very weird point in my life, I had quit my job, was starting a new career, taking community college classes at 26, and lonely. I fucking struggled.

I wish I would have gotten my dream wedding. I wish I would have gotten to walk down the beach, lined with sand dunes, to my husband. I wish I would have danced the night way in a beach side pavilion with my friends and family. But I didn’t. I won’t and that still brings that fire to my chest.

Alas, in case you did not know, shit happens, you guys. Things don’t go as planned more often than not.

And more often than not, things are out of our control, so we relinquish all control and say “WAHHH- shit got fucked up, whoa is me, whoa is life.”

What good does that do? Not only are things fucked up and you lost control of that ONE aspect of your day, week, event whatever. But now, you have given up ALL control to the situation. You have become a victim, rather than an active participant.

Take the reigns where you can. Take responsibility for making the best out of whatever the situation may be. You can choose to be a victim or choose to grow. It may take time but actively practicing those thoughts when little things go wrong can prepare you for the big shit that is going to come.

At the end of the day when you’ve lost control, if you can control your thoughts, nothing is really ever out of your control.

<3

Sam

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