1.17.2012

wedding reflection: part I of why.


For years, I've prided myself on my ability to be emotionally opaque. Life can be crumbling, but I can paste on a smile and engage in cheerful conversation with a friend over coffee as if life is nothing but bubbles and sunshine.

Never have I leaned as heavily on that skill as I did this summer, shortly after getting engaged. While there was a smile on my face in public, I was an unhappy, unhealthy girl. I should have been joyous, but I spent countless hours in bed, with covers pulled over my head. When I wasn't in bed, I was exercising and counting calories, which I'd strictly limited to less than 700 a day. I was just getting bridal ready, I told myself. It was just for a month or two.

But in my heart, I knew it wasn't that simple.

Every day felt like a lifetime or more. The sun rose on a girl who thought that perhaps this was the day she could chase her demons away, but that sun always went down on an exhausted girl who was so tired of battling her own mind. I was endlessly aware of every flaw, every way in which the girl I saw in the mirror wasn't the girls in the magazines: my hair was too frizzy, my nose was too large, I was too short, my waist was too wide, my hips too full...my thighs touched. The girl I saw was so flawed, so ugly and so unlovable. There were days in which I don't remember looking in the mirror, because the battle that ensued would be too draining. Sometimes after catching a glimpse in the mirror, I would admit defeat, cancel my plans and lay in bed, crying. There I'd swear I wouldn't eat for as long as possible. Until there was a decisive sliver of light between my thighs. Until I suddenly could love and accept myself...something I was sure would happen within a few pounds.

Of course that wasn't true. When you're dealing with an eating disorder and a severe body image disconnect, nothing changes within a few pounds. You're not happier. Your habits are just more deeply ingrained, and you're still too exhausted to fight the sickness in your mind.

Those days and weeks were dark, friends. I didn't want to die, although I thought about what it might feel like. But no, that wasn't it, I finally told myself. I just wanted to disappear. To crumble into a thousand pieces...to become dust and blow far away, to a place where I didn't exist physically. To a place where my mind could rest and there was peace.

The very thought of putting myself on display in a wedding dress, even to try on a few samples, left me breathless. My stomach rolled and my throat tightened. My palms began to sweat, and I could feel tears well up in the corner of my eyes. Brides are supposed to be flawless. They're supposed to beautiful. They glow. I was none of those things. And standing in a wedding dress would only emphasize it.

One night, during a Skype date with Gabe, I began sobbing:

"I just don't want anyone to see me--I don't want anyone to look at me. I want to marry you, but please don't make me have a wedding...please can we just elope?"

Gabe was heartbroken over this girl he loved, who he found so beautiful, so flawless. He wanted to fix her. To hold her. To at least ease the pain. But he was 6,000 miles away and so very helpless...all he could do was watch her crumble.

So, we decided we would elope over the holidays. I bought a white ruffled dress. We read up on the elopement process and checked the available dates + times. I learned how to make my own bouquet, and we told our best friends to meet us at the San Francisco City Hall on December 28th.

That wasn't exactly how things ended...as I was married on December 31st, surrounded by family and a few friends. And certainly not in the $60 dollar elopement dress.

But that is how things started. :)

29 comments:

  1. It makes my heart hurt to read about you feeling this way. No one should ever have to think those thoughts, especially during what should have been an amazing time of fluttering around and making plans. But I know that you weren't afraid to confront those feelings and obviously you found a way to make the wedding that you wanted happen. But it still makes me teary. Meh. Love you!

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  2. I just HAD to read this before class! Bethany, I look at your pictures and I can't imagine how you see any of those flaws. You'd somewhat talked about an eating disorder before, but I don't think any of your readership knew it was still so prevalent in your life. You were a beautiful bride and I think your wedding looked perfect for the two of you! It's how you were supposed to have it anyway :]
    Thanks for being so open! People are always in awe at how I am so attached to the people who write the blogs that I read; your honesty like that is how. I'm so excited for this new chapter in you life, just like I am for Dana from MADE to have her new baby and to see Katie's new life in Ohio from The Red Kitchen. I agree with Shannon over in the other comments, my heart hurts for you for these feelings, but I know you have so much support to help you back out of that hole! You really are beautiful :]

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  3. I just want to say thank you for being so strong to share this difficult time with us =) that's a huge step and I'm proud of you!! It made me sad that you had to go through something like this, but so very happy that you came out of this happy and confident in your beautiful self!! Hope you have a blessed day bethany! you deserve it!

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  4. You are gorgeous, both inside and out and I hope that the rest of your wedding story--where it ends up anyway, is you feeling exactly two things: gorgeous and loved.

    Thank you for sharing yourself with us!

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  5. I appreciate the honesty in this post. I too, have struggled with eating disorders and felt the same way. My wedding day was the most uncomfortable day of my life.

    I think you are absolutely stunning and I am happy that you have married someone who makes you feel that way.

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  6. You deserve to feel beautiful and at ease. I hope writing this helped you overcome all those negative thoughts in your head. You're a strong young lady.

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  7. but the thing is, you glowed. you glowed with a beauty i've certainly never seen before. a happiness-induced, content, and joyful glow that you deserved (and rocked). love reading these recaps.

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  8. I'm like Lauren in that I get super attached to the people I read. You are a beautiful, beatiful person on the outside and even much more on the inside. Thank you for sharing something so deeply personal. You are an inspiration and a joy to read!

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  9. You are such a beautiful woman inside and out. I cried reading this post because I am so used to you being such a bubbly happy go lucky girl. But at the same time I feel such a sense of pride for you for being so strong to share these feelings you went through. You really are an inspiration!

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  10. Thank you for sharing Bethany! You are so brave. I must admit, since finding your blog and liking you on facebook, I have thought numerous times how gorgeous you are; the way you see yourself is definitely not the way the rest of us see you.

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  11. Oh dear, I am so sorry that wedding planning caused you so much anxiety. Like everyone else here, I think you are a beautiful person, inside and out. While I'm sad that you had to abandon your original plan, I'm so happy that things are still turning out well for you :)

    Thank you for sharing this so openly with we readers!

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  12. Oh Bethany, I don't even know what to say...this post is so beautifully written and at the same time it makes me so sad that you have this image of yourself. I really hope one day you will be able to see yourself as we, your devoted readers, see you - a beautiful & amazing woman inside and out!

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  13. The only comfort my hurt heart gets from this post is you-- you and your undying strength that has always amazed and inspired me. I read this and collected my thoughts afterwards by browsing online photos, and found this, almost instantly (http://26.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lxwxumRZ7q1qb8ba0o1_500.jpg). I know it's easier said than done, but it seems as though you're on the right track,and you have the support of your readers, lovey. Always here if need be.
    P.S. I think you're exceptionally brave for sharing this. xoxo

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  14. I can completely relate to all your feelings. In high school and the beginning years of college I struggled with anorexia. Now that I'm at a healthy weight and I eat relatively healthy, I still battle all of those thoughts. ESPECIALLY the months leading up to my wedding. I gained ten lbs right before in my last semester of college and I was so self conscious and discouraged. And I am just like you...it drives me crazy that my thighs "touch" and I long for the days when they didn't even though back then I wasn't healthy at all and was way too skinny. It's hard because I see myself through my distorted vision, but sometimes I catch glimpses of myself through normal, healthy eyes and I don't feel so bad. I feel beautiful. I just pray that soon you can see through those healthy eyes more than those distorted eyes because it really sucks to see ourselves that way.


    And I am not lying or exaggerating when I say that I think you are really stunning because you really, really are!

    <3 <3

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  15. My husband and I have this theory about movies. What makes for the greatest story is not when a super hero defeats the enemy, but when normal people overcome great enemies/trials/situations. I think that is one thing about you that draws in so many people. You, my dear are overcoming and your life is telling a beautiful story.

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  16. To echo the other comments, I think you're very beautiful. I've noticed that in the photos of yourself featuring your face, you've airbrushed yourself smooth. In this post, I can see your freckles and your natural rosiness. I stopped for a second to admire those pretty little dots and your big, beautiful eyes.

    You and I are the same dress size, and probably around the same height (I'm 5'4" ish). Your cheery attitude that you put on has me thinking of you when I step into H&M and start looking at the racks. "If Rinse Repeat can look good in this, so can I." I've been looking for cropped skinnies and sparkly flats that you've featured.

    You're wonderful and I wish you so many happy years with your new husband.

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  17. Thank you so much for posting about this. I know it was probably hard to write, but it was hard to live through too. And the fact that you decided to share it with your readers just shows how strong and beautiful you really are as a person. I look at that picture above and I see someone absolutely gorgeous, but I know first hand what it's like to doubt yourself.

    It breaks my heart, but weddings do bring out so much in all of us. It should be a happy time, but often it isn't. I'm so glad that you were able to do what you wanted, to make you and your husband happy, and not worry about anybody else. Because it's about the two of you, and that's all that matters.

    And I just have to say that I would love to feature you someday for my Wedding Wednesday series. You are so inspirational and creative and beautiful, and it would be an honor to have you! Please let me know if you're interested and hopefully we can work something out!

    xoxo,
    Joelle

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  18. I wouldn't know if its a help or hinderance to say I don't look at all the famous people in the magazines and compare myself with them but with you, you drop dead gorgeous wee devil you! Seriously, everybody has to have people to look up to, whether its for superfical, intellectual or spiritual reasons. You're all three for me. Nobody's perfect, I have my issues and so do you, so does everyone but you just shine girl, don't ever forget it! Can't wait to hear the rest of The Wedding: The Tale. xxxx

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  19. i'm so proud of you for sharing this. i can't imagine how incredibly hard this must have been for to be going through all alone, with your best friend thousands of miles away.

    but i'm so glad that it all worked out! that you got out of that deep dark place and came into the sunshine and now, you're married! in a sweet little ceremony that sounds like it was just perfect. so happy for you :)

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  20. Three things...
    1. Our mind can be a terrible thing sometimes & I hate that you have to deal with these demons.
    2. I want to give you the BIGGEST hug.
    3. My thighs touch too.

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  21. I just want to hug you. Thank you for sharing all of this with us: your honesty and vulnerability makes you so resplendently human. I love that about you.

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  22. thank you for sharing.
    you are so inspiring to everyone.

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  23. Your honesty and openness makes you more beautiful than any photo can ever capture.

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  24. Oh my darling girl. I wish you could see just how beautiful you are. Now that you've got Gabe forever {hurrah for husbands!}, hopefully the light will prevail over that darkness and it won't be back.

    And what Kayla said... I couldn't agree more.

    xoxo

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  25. I am so sad to hear that you feel this way. My friend is currently suffering from an eating disorder and it hurts me that I don't know what to do. Reading this helped me to know what she is thinking.
    I think your stunning, you have such a classic beauty, I have thought that since I first started reading your blog.

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  26. I'm really impressed by your honesty. You are a very brave girl, Bethany.

    Thank you so much for this post.

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  27. Thank you for sharing something so personal. My heart broke a little reading your words for ever since I have found your blog I have admired your style and your beauty, the inside and the out. You are a stunning woman and your honesty only makes it tenfold. I look forward to reading the rest of your story.
    PS my thighs touch too.

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  28. Bethany Is that a shower curtain in the background ?! I LOVE IT where did you get it from ? I would love that myself !

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  29. This is just gorgeous, because I so relate. In fact... my hair is too frizzy, my nose is too big, my waist is too wide, and my thighs touch! While I'm "better", I still worry about beginning my "bridal boot camp" diet, because, well, isn't that what's expected? I've heard women at wedding dress shops telling girls, "Oh, but it'll look great once you've lost 10 pounds".. it's so commonplace, of course! Yet, I take dieting to a different level, and I worry that I'll revert to the sacred, secretive habits--keeping the air so cold my body burns calories to keep up, chewing gum day in and day out, measuring out a 1/4 cup of black beans for a "hefty meal", and being MyFitnessPal's most loyal user. My fiancé gets nearly MAD when I casually mention wanting plastic, but it doesn't always matter what they say, does it? Not when it comes to this.

    I'm so glad to have found a blog that is so personal and relatable and creative and weddingy all in one! Truly. Avid reader from post 1.

    Cheryl
    http://thestylistquo.com

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