Karma Cleanser 

Will it come back to bite you?

Dear Karma Cleanser:

I know it's typical for brides-to-be to have jitters, but I have been through this before and this time it's different. I am 36 and my fiancé is almost five years younger than me. We've been engaged for two years and dated seriously for three. Our wedding is coming up in early September. The mistakes and open wounds of my first marriage are being revisited as I plan this wedding.

When I got married the first time I was a starry-eyed 22-year-old activist. I was convinced I was going to save the world, one nonprofit at a time. I married a fellow activist. He kept me up late in the night talking about the problems with patriarchal society.

We moved into a tiny apartment in an urban area, where he taught inner-city high school and I bounced from one struggling nonprofit to the next. We were poor but we were content, at first, because we were saving the world together.

The marriage lasted three years. I began to see that my husband had good intentions but that he lived in a fantasy. I found a bullet hole in the side of my station wagon one morning, and that night I packed my belongings and moved home to my parents.

I went on to grad school and got a respectable corporate job. I make great money in my career and I now live a comfortable life. My fiancé, who I met through my job, is wonderfully intelligent, very considerate and achingly devoted to me. I love him, but recently I have started to find him a little boring.

As our wedding date approaches, I catch myself missing the insane passion of my first marriage. I have never forgiven myself for failing to save the world or for walking out on my husband while he tried to do something meaningful with his life. Please tell me this is not karma coming back to me for leaving the first marriage and that what I'm going through is just a normal part of growing up.

– Cold Feet, Ankles, Shins and Shoulders

We'll misquote creativity guru Julia Cameron here by saying perhaps it's not your fiancé you've grown bored with, but yourself. A wedding inspires a new season of soul-searching and emotional excavations. That's a good thing. As Julia notes, the creative life follows a spiral path. We circle through the same issues repeatedly, each time on a different level. You're coming back around to the daunting stone doorway marked "Commitment," which makes you both feel like a failure and ache for youthful exuberance. Be gentle with yourself. Take some time to reconnect with your inner 22-year-old, focusing on the things you loved about her – her fire and also her fragility. Maybe she didn't save the world, but she saved herself. That's enough.

Been bad? karmacleanser@gmail.com.


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