A while ago, I began to realise that a strange thing was happening to me. Every time I was invited to a wedding, something went terribly and bafflingly awry.
When one of my best friends asked me to bring something meaningful to place on the altar at her wedding I knew just the thing– a beautiful wooden statue of two people kissing, closely entwined. I got up early that morning, and it was not until I was halfway to work that I realised that I had left the statue behind. I couldn’t risk being late for my students, so I had to resign myself to attending the wedding without the statue, and hoped my friend wouldn’t mind. She was gracious about it at the time, and it wasn’t until much later that she let on that she had been deeply disappointed.
Two months later, I was invited to the wedding of my college tutor. I promised to come to the evening reception, straight from work. Getting into my car that evening, however, I realised that I had forgotten to bring the address and I didn’t have her mobile number. I sat in the car, stunned for a few minutes, racking my brains as to how else I could get there, but in the end there was nothing for it but to go home instead.
Six months later, a dear friend of mine in Belgium sent me a beautiful invitation to her wedding. I couldn’t work out how I was going to attend. I procrastinated. The day of the wedding came and went, and I still had not replied. I felt so guilty that I couldn’t even bear to contact her, and we didn’t speak again for nearly two decades.
Why was this happening to me? I had an uncomfortable feeling that I knew why, but I couldn’t even admit it to myself. On the surface, I liked weddings. They were a wonderful opportunity to dress up and celebrate friends, meet new people, eat, drink and dance in stylish venues. Goodness knows, I might even meet someone myself…
And there was the rub. I was single. I had been single for most of my adult life. Even though I had stacks of great friends, I couldn’t seem to sustain an intimate relationship. The men I fell for were invariably either not interested, already committed or secretly gay (those were less liberated days). Despite years of therapy, I still had not found the keys I needed to move forward. And, although I was not even admitting it to myself, I was lonely. More than anything, I longed for a deep, satisfying intimate relationship. And so, going to other people’s weddings had become increasingly painful to the point where unconscious sabotage was the only answer.
Twenty years on, my life is very different. After some more deep and extensive personal development work, I had a series of tremendous breakthroughs, and have now been married to a wonderful man for over 11 years. But it took waking up to my own denial and my fears, and having the courage to admit to myself that, despite all the setbacks and failures, this was truly what I wanted, that this was my heartfelt dream, for me to begin to move forward.
So, do you have a heartfelt dream? Is there something you’re not acknowledging, even to yourself? Something below the surface struggling to emerge? Something you may have felt so discouraged about or disappointed in that you have tried to bury it alive? Maybe it’s a relationship. Maybe it’s the desire to make art. Maybe it’s the need to create a spiritual practice. Maybe it’s a move to another country, or a change of career.
If so, I encourage you to take the time to write about it, just for yourself. Open a notebook and see what wants to be written. No one else needs to see it or know about it. You don’t have to be ready to act on it. You can take as long as you like. You just need to be honest with yourself. Just this one simple act can be the beginning of something magnificent. Believe me, it’s worth it.