One of my all-time favorite things in life is a wedding. I love going to weddings. I love being in weddings. I love watching wedding related chick-flicks, and reading about the grand celebrations of true love. I gush over the vows and how beautiful the bride is. I love to watch the groom’s first glance at his new wife, and how nervous they are while sliding their rings onto each other’s fingers. Everyone is always so happy. There is no worrying about the future. There is only the present. Dinner is served, and everyone watches the first dance. Then the DJ turns up the music, and everyone joins the couple on the dance floor. All of my mushy love filled joy disappears. I HATED dancing in front of people.
Almost five years ago Sean and I attended his cousins wedding. It was a big Jewish wedding; my first Jewish wedding and first wedding that wasn’t a relative of my own. I’d never seen such a beautiful and grand ceremony and reception space. Something I learned very quickly was there is a lot of dancing at Jewish weddings, a lot. I was pregnant with Evie and couldn’t drink. The only thing worse than meeting all of your baby-daddy’s Jewish family members at a giant Jewish- Orthodox wedding when you’re his not Jewish-knocked-up-girlfriend, is meeting them all completely sober. I wanted so badly for them all to approve of me but I knew before I could even say hello that everyone else had already decided they didn’t like me. It was like they could smell my non-Jewish pregnant blood.
I spent the evening silently watching everyone dance to Hava Nagila from the safety of our table in the corner. Everyone was nice to me, said hello and asked how Sean and I met. It wasn’t appropriate for me to be honest at the time. I wanted to cry and tell them all that we were dating and accidently got pregnant and now we are trying to figure out what we are and what this will mean for our future. I decided “we met in class,” was more fitting for the occasion. I clung to Sean’s sister, which in hind-sight probably made everyone think even worse things about me. Sean’s sister is not the traditional Jewish-daughter. She has tattoos and piercings, and proudly displays them despite traditional black tie etiquette. I watched for a couple hours, then made up a head-ache and went back to our hotel room and “went to sleep”. I really spent the night crying, wondering if I could ever fit into this family. Sean spent the rest of the night drinking with his cousins. Looking back now, I’m sure that the Sean five years ago enjoyed the rest of the night a lot more once I went to bed. I told myself that I would be more fun again once I had the baby and knew who I was again.
The following spring we were invited to two weddings. Our good friends Lisa and Chris and a previous co-worker turned friend of mine, Lindsay.
Now, Evie was a few months old, and I was still trying to figure out what the hell to do with this new life I was given. I was finally getting the hang of breastfeeding, and thought it would be so exciting to have giant boobs to fill in these great dresses I bought. Little did I know, giant boobs aren’t always so fun. I wanted to feel sexy again. I wanted Sean to think I was sexy again. I took a shower, put on my dress, took off my dress, put on a tank top to hide some of my cleavage, put the dress back on, and tried my best not to cry and miss Evie the entire time I was gone. LUCKILY this time around, I could drink! I told Sean to pull into the Walgreens and I ran inside. Hm, I didn’t know Walgreens didn’t have a wide selection of liquor. Guess I should try and figure out this whole drinking thing at some point too. They did have those little mini-fridge bottles of green apple pucker shots. I grabbed six. We pulled into the parking lot and while looking over the beautiful lake and gazebo, I downed two of the little bottles. Sean joined me in my efforts, and handled his shots a lot better than I did. Turns out, drunk Julie is still awkward. I didn’t dance much at this wedding either. I didn’t make up a headache though, so that’s improvement.
A few weeks later and Sean and I were at my friend Lindsay’s wedding. I worked with Lindsay for years at a photography studio during high school and college. She was always my most outgoing friend. She loved to go out, drink, dance, and do all things loud and fun. She was older than me and would sneak me into bars and order my drinks for me. I put on my dress and makeup for her wedding and knew that her reception was going to be a huge party. Sure enough, it was. Don’t get me wrong, it was a lot of fun. I wore this short pink and black dress and had my giant boobs with me again. I tried my best to dance with all of my old co-workers. Everyone was trashed but me. I wanted to be trashed, but I think I worried myself sober, again.
I started to lose weight like crazy, one of the few perks I enjoy from nursing my babies so long. I felt more confident, but still very unsure of myself. My cousin Mike asked me to be in his wedding along with my sister Kaitlyn. We joined the bridal party and tried on dresses. We all found one we actually liked, and for once I felt very good in it. I spent the night feeling pretty comfortable, but not so comfortable that I could drink or relax. He didn’t tell me until years later, but it was this night and during this dance that Sean decided he wanted to propose. I still felt so unsure about us as a couple, and a family. I wanted it to all work out, but I was still afraid to put two feet in and jump. I’ll always adore this picture knowing what he was thinking about as we swayed back and forth. His confidence in us, and in me, even during a period where I was unsure, is remarkable.
Fast forward another year to the year of love. That September, my cousin Brett, our friends Sam and Tom, and even Sean and I tied the knot. I looked at the first two weddings as a giant warmup for my very own wedding. Surely I could work out all of my fears and dance with my husband and all of my loved ones at my wedding. My cousins wedding had the best theme, wine… Wait that wasn’t the theme? Ok, it was a beautiful rustic- chic wedding at a gorgeous winery where they had A LOT OF WINE. I watched as my family members all got shit-faced for the first time ever in front of me. I’d never seen any of them behave the way they did that night. Everyone’s lips and teeth were stained, everyone laughed, everyone danced. Sean showed his courage and sweet dance moves in front of all of my family for the first time. This meant that he did the worm, right in the middle of the dance floor.
Once again, I wanted to feel sexy, so I bought a dress that made me feel the exact opposite. It was tight, and short, and hugged me too much. Why do women do that? We buy these dresses that are meant to be sexy, but we don’t feel sexy in them. We feel insecure. I felt naked. But I also felt drunk. So I danced, which made me feel even more naked. I felt so open and so vulnerable that I picked a fight with Sean. I sobered up almost immediately and then refused to let him have sex with me later that night in our hotel room.
Our friends Sam and Tom had a beautiful wedding. Flowers were everywhere. Sam has one of the fullest families I’ve ever been around. Her parents and siblings and cousins, are all so much a part of each other’s lives and hearts. I felt overwhelmed by all of them, and all of their acceptance of each other. Unfortunately, since I had Evie with me that night, I didn’t drink. Sean didn’t drink much either, probably because I was a bitch and gave him an evil glare every time he reached for a beer. I sat down to eat my dinner and another new mom sat down at our table. She had just stumbled out of the woods behind the bar and reeked of weed. I tried my best to hide the judgement on my face while she complained about how much she doesn’t like being a mom. All I could think about was how much I love being a mom, and how I’m really not the person she should be saying all of this to. Had she stumbled out of the woods and found current day Julie, I might have been a little more sympathetic, but really did you think you’d be able to carry on drinking and smoking weed 24-7? I watched as this wonderful family and the newlywed’s all danced and drank together so full of life and love. Eventually, I convinced Sean that Evie was tired and we needed to leave.
The day I married Sean will always be the day that I made the best decision of my life. No matter what happens, I chose to marry a wonderful man and even if this doesn’t last forever, the time I have spent with him has made me happier than I ever imagined possible. Side note: Sean knows his only way out is death, this bitch isn’t going anywhere. You mad? Go in the other room and stew about it, but then come back here because we are gonna work it out.
I felt beautiful. I looked beautiful. I couldn’t really breathe and I also worried quite often that one of my boobs was going to pop out. I successfully looked hot on my wedding day though. So when I’m old and things are a little lower to the ground than they were that day, Sean can look at pictures from our wedding and at least jerk off to those.
I drank, and drank, and drank. I did not get drunk. No one tells you how much work being the bride is. All these people want to talk to you, and take pictures with you. You have to run around and say thank you and hug everyone. Al Green, Let’s Stay Together started and my heart stopped. I loved our song, but I had been dreading this since the day he proposed. Not only did I have to dance, but now everyone is SUPPOSED to watch. Sean has such natural rhythm. No one expects this skinny white boy to move like he does. Then there is me, the awkward uncoordinated woman, who looks beautiful, and is expected to move beautifully. I try and laugh and kiss my way through the whole song. Luckily, I married a man who grabbed onto me and essentially carried me from start to finish in his arms. His smile assured me that he knew I couldn’t dance, and he wanted to marry me anyway.
Two years later our friends Matt and Jen decided to take the plunge. Having been married to Sean for two years, and had two more babies since our wedding, our relationship had grown in ways I don’t fully even comprehend. This man has now watched me push out three babies. He has woken up next to me morning after morning and told me I was beautiful. This man comes home every day after work. He never changes his mind and runs away. He comes home, to me, his disasterous house, no dinner and his three little girls. Over the last two years we’ve grown so close that I no longer feel embarrassed about anything around him. In turn, I feel more confident about myself even when I’m not around him. He will never fully understand how his unconditional love for me has changed how I feel about myself. I craved this kind of love my whole life. He looks at me and I know he sees me. He sees a beautiful wife, mother, and woman. Now, no matter what I’m wearing I can feel sexy. In those skin tight dresses that no longer fit at all, or in his sweatshirt and baggy pants, I am always beautiful to him.
I was only four weeks post-partum when I had to put on my bridesmaids dress and stand up in front of all of their guests. No one there knew that I had to size up the dress just the week prior because it didn’t zip all the way. A few years ago, that was enough for me to fake an illness and cancel. I couldn’t do that to Matt and Jen, I wanted to be there for them. I wanted to be up there by my husband. I wanted to be up there, in my size 10 dress, chubby cheeks, giant boobs and all. The beautiful I feel now is much more than just my surface appearance. In that moment, I looked out at all those people, and I looked over at my husband standing next to one of our best friends, and I felt like I was exactly where I should be. I had a wonderful family, and I was here to celebrate the love of these two amazing people. So I drank, and drank, and drank. This time, I drank, and I got drunk. I mixed any and every alcohol I could. Champagne, beer, redbull and jager, wine, vodka cranberry’s, shots, and shots, and shots.
I started to fly. Literally, stretched my arms out at my sides and ran around the dance floor like I was a bird taking flight. Evie, my little flower girl, ran alongside me. We danced, and danced. Then I drank, and sent Evie home. I went in a back room and pumped out all of that precious liquid gold, and proceeded to drink my body weight in wine-spritzers. Oh, and more shots. I spent the entire night running around “dancing”.
A groomsman pulled me aside and said “I can see where Evie gets her dance moves.”
Yes, so maybe my dance moves are only as good as a three-year-olds; but I felt alive. I felt confident, and beautiful. I was flying, and drunk.
Something has changed in me over the last few years. I can feel the fear in me deep down, and every now and then it tries to bubble back up. I tell Sean when I’m feeling insecure, or worried about looking foolish. I still get angry when he tries to record videos of me dancing with the girls in the living room. But now, I am not afraid to fly. He always smiles back at me. His smile tells me that even though my dance moves aren’ the stereotypical “sexy” moves of 2017, he finds them sexy. All the sex that usually follows these cute moments assures me that he doesn’t just say he finds me sexy, but he actually does.
Confidence is not being a good dancer, but being a bad dancer and dancing anyway.
Now, Sean and I have been made the token outgoing friendly couple that you invite to weddings. Sean is the great dancer who everyone circles around and cheers on. I am the horrible dancer, who dances despite how awful I am. I am the one who gives the other awful dancers a little bit of courage to get up from their tables and kick off their shoes. Sean and I dance side-by-side, him and all of his skill next to me and all of my struggle. His love provides a safe place for me to learn, and grow, and begin to love myself; even my awkward dance moves. I was right that after I had the baby I would be more fun again, but it turns out it had nothing to do with the babies and everything to do with the man I married, and the woman I became because of all of his love