Triggers + a reflection on "My Fiancé Doesn't Complete Me"
I wrote a thing a few years back about my relationship with my now-husband. Chris has been in my life since a week before I turned 17. And he's pretty baller.
Between my second and last year of college, I interned for a small event marketing agency. In addition to doing the grunt work of event planning, a very tiny part of my job description included babysitting celebrities during appearances at some of the larger events — making sure they got food and drinks if they needed them, no one bothered them endlessly for autographs or photos. Ya know, the standard stuff.
During one such event, I was monitoring a reality TV star and his entourage. After all the small talk and standard niceties subsided, he looked down at my left hand and saw my engagement ring.
“You’re engaged? You’re too young for that. Why would you do a fucking stupid thing like that?”
Ouch. Well, my friend, I see you have a trigger finger. You tryna fight, bro?
I didn’t know what to do.
First inclination — get the f out of there.
My mind said — nope, you need to stay, this is your job.
Next inclination — tell him off.
My mind said — sorry, no can do, this is your job. Plus, you're getting super mad, so I feel the tears coming. If you say one thing, you’ll cry and then no one will take you seriously.
I sat there and fumed. My face grew hot. My hands tensed. And I didn’t say a word. Livid.
“She’s mad at you now, she looks like she’s gonna beat you up.”
I received many negative comments (both from those I love and, clearly judging by the story, from those I don’t even know) in the three years before I got married at 23. I was going to lose out on so much experience, I wasn't going to travel, I wasn't going to feel independent, I wasn't going to feel free.
No joke, I'm still laughing at that.
A friend of mine has this phrase I love — CEO (Compassionate Empowered Observer) perspective. If we zoom out to CEO perspective, we as a society are slowly eroding away at tribal beliefs that there are certain ways we should live our lives. We no longer need to feel that we should have the white picket fence, 1.5 kids, a dog, the corporate job, be married, heterosexual, monogamous. These things are not in any way bad. But not everyone needs to subscribe to them if they don’t feel they jive with them. With a greater awareness of the different lives there are to live in this world and a popularization of mindfulness and self-care, we are being asked to shift from a place of should to a place of choose because it aligns better with our own happiness first — not the tribe’s happiness. We’re our best for our tribe when we’re the best for ourselves.
The flip side of that in this instance is that some people who have married young in the past have realized that they didn’t want to make that leap in the first place and were operating from that place of should — hence divorce rates being where they are, the stigma around commitment at a young age, an assumption that all relationships are the same — but still retain the residue of tribal belief.
“If it was wrong for me, it’s wrong for everyone.”
I wrote "My Fiancé Doesn't Complete Me" to say, “hey mfers, not everyone assumes the identity of their partner. I’m still my own person, doing my own things; I just really like having this cool cat next to me while I live my life.” I wrote it because I needed that reminder as much as anyone else. I wrote it because I wanted to remember that my own truth is valid and mine. And hopefully through this, you’ll remember your truth is valid and yours as well — even if it’s different from mine.
My programming had me wired to believe a few things:
People know more about me and my decisions than I do.
I need to take abuse to prove I’m strong.
If I'm wrong, then I am stupid, less than, and not enough.
The remedies I’ve found for the programming are über simple: Love, trust, letting go. All they require is consistent practice.
Love manifests with self-care. Eat good foods, be in the company of folks that make you feel good, read the book, go for the walk, take some alone time, do the things you dig! You are full, enough, and whole when you take the time (even if it’s just two minutes) to give yourself some love.
Trust manifests through energy work, meditation, yoga. An awareness of my thoughts (and when I start to deny my own truth for someone else’s) is essential to trusting my intuition and knowing that what's right for me is what's right for me. Das it. Here's two little practices you can try, if you'd like.
Loosening the grip is a byproduct of that trust. You don’t need to paddle upstream to flex your muscles and prove you’re strong — both because paddling upstream doesn’t bring you anywhere and because no one can continuously validate your strength/intelligence/worth except for you. Let go of the oars. Ride the current instead of forcing yourself to go against it and your destination becomes clearer.
Plenty of psychologists and folks in the mindfulness space say that triggers are our biggest teachers. I can only say #truth to that.