Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Careless Man's Careful Daughter

     Me: How do you feel? How do you know he's the one? Or do you still have doubts? I'm not criticizing. I just want to know how I'm supposed to feel for future reference...    
     Katie: I think it's because I feel the difference between how I feel with him versus how I felt with all the bad ones.

     That was the conversation I had with one of my best friends a couple days before her wedding. Her sister walked in, so I never got the rest of the answer really. But I've always been in awe of how Katie can throw herself so fully into relationships. She falls hard and fast and deep. And she gives everything. She trusts people way more than I've ever been able to. And so as I dawned yet another bridesmaid dress (#4 to be exact), I found myself wondering yet again: How is it that someone can go "all in" like that? How can you be so trusting? Good thing the next book on my list was The Wedding Letters by Jason F. Wright.

      Turns out that in this book there is someone a lot like Katie and someone a lot like me. Noah who goes all in without looking back and Rachel who wants to but just can't. The problem with that is that they are supposed to be getting married. Ideally, both parties should be "all in" in that situation. When I hit page 100, I knew Rachel and I were kindred spirits: "Noah fell asleep fantasizing about his honeymoon and life with Rachel. Rachel fell asleep terrified about those same things". Same event and two totally different outlooks.

     The question then is "why?" Why is it that Noah and my friend Katie can be so trusting? I know! The answer is babies! Stick with me's something called the attachment theory. The very short version is that when babies are first born those first few months are critical because they either form secure attachment or not-so-secure attachment (these aren't the technical terms, p.s.) They're forming an idea about the connection between themselves and the world. Is this a good place? Will I be taken care of here? When I cry and need something, will someone get it for me? If that trusting or secure attachment isn't formed within those few months, it's extremely hard to get it back...some argue impossible. Applying that to Noah and Rachel, I think the difference is good past relationships vs. bad ones. And not necessarily romantic ones either.

     At age 7, Rachel and her mother left her abusive father and the nightmare that Rachel has at one point in the book is evidence that she never really got over that. (Bad relationship #1) Later on, her mom finds a live-in boyfriend who is financially supportive but not much else (Not-so-good relationship #2). Compare that to Noah who has two loving and trusting parents who we see throughout the book as amazingly supportive and TA-DAH! That pretty much explains the why for me.

    So, are Rachel and I doomed? Are we just stuck forever with our trust issues? Destined to never be completely happy? Is there no reverse for us? Thanks to Noah, we have an answer (see below).

"It took time, a lot of time, but my mom and dad got through the worst of it. He started to understand that he didn't have to be anything he didn't want to be. He made his life. Not his history. He told me when I was a kid that history is dangerous if you pay too much attention to it, because tomorrow hasn't happened yet" (306).

    We're not babies anymore. We make our lives. We decide who we want to be. Does Rachel have a little more to fight against than Noah? For sure. But that doesn't change the fact that she is fully capable of being whoever she wants to be. Marriage is work. I've always, always believed that and my favorite lines from this book say just that.

"I know it's not what they say in the movies, and it's not terribly romantic or poetic. But it's the truth. We don't just fall in love through magic. We don't stay married because the stars align. Those things happen because we make them happen" (272). 

     I think sometimes we like to blame our weaknesses on things that happened to us when we were younger or the way we were raised. I can't deny that those things can shape us, but I do believe that there is ALWAYS a way to rise above, a way to change who you are despite of what others have tried to make you become. To all the Rachel's of the world, take heart. History doesn't always repeat itself. Sometimes it's okay to go "all in" but once you do, get to work.

"You decide what tomorrow's history will look like" ~Jason F. Wright

Writing Music: "Say Anything" by Tristan Prettyman and "Found a Heart" by Emily Hearn
Title Song: "Mine" by Taylor Swift