I didn’t go shopping for it in the typical way. You know, load up your Mom, sisters and besties and head to each and every bridal shop in town and try on dress after dress. Wait for the ooh’s and ahh’s from the assembled panel or watching their faces that tell you thumbs down, as I exited the dressing room and paraded in front of them over and over again.
Nope I didn’t do that.
I had the dress in mind, inspired by a picture in a magazine. The only place to get the dress was halfway across the country, and when you are planning a wedding some expenses are non negotiable but others are.
Having found a dress designer in my small city, I promptly set off, magazine picture in hand, to get the dress custom made.
The experience of getting a dress designed and made just for me, was less than stellar, and the connection with the designer just wasn’t happening, so I chose to let that go.
I got up on a Saturday morning, went to my first choice of a bridal shop in town. The first dress I saw and tried on was it! Its been a few years (over 19), but if memory serves me correctly I never bothered to try on any other dresses.
How crazy is that?
First one off the rack.
Tried it on.
Ka-ching and done.
Nobody but myself had seen the dress.
I loved the fact that it would be a surprise for everyone at the wedding.
I loved the fact that when I came down the stairs everyone would be seeing it for the first time.
I loved the fact that I felt so amazing, so elegant, so bridal.
I loved the dress!
I loved that the dress was a reflection of what I felt on the inside.
I had a lot invested in the dress. Financially, of course, as far as a wedding dress goes. But even more so, my emotional investment far exceeded what I had paid.
Wedding dresses are significant.
The one thing a woman buys to wear once.
The one article of clothing that is photographed more times by more people than any other piece of clothing you will ever own.
The one article of clothing that gets you more compliments and makes you feel more beautiful, than anything else in your closet: past, present or future.
Like women before me and women after me, I wanted it to feel and be my version of perfect. And it did.
It is Iconic.
It is magical.
A week before my first anniversary, I picked it up from the special dry cleaners, who cleaned it and boxed it up, complete with a little window for me to peek at it from time to time without having to break the seal. I paid to preserve its magical qualities, along with my shoes, head band and clutch.
I didn’t peek at it over the years. I didn’t need to. I could conjure up the weight of the dress, I could hear the swoosh of my skirt, I could see it daily in the wedding picture we kept displayed during our marriage.
I kept it safely stowed and preserving in a closet.
Preserving the magic. Preserving the memories. Preserving the investment. Preserving…
I know that times have changed and there are some brides who promptly sell their used dresses, donate them, or do whatever to them. It is all about what we believe to be true for ourselves to do.
- I kept my dress, perfectly preserved in the special box with a window.
- I kept the gold wrapped box with all of the cards I received from bridal showers and from the wedding.
- I kept the guest list spreadsheet.
- I kept a copy of the handmade invitations.
- I kept the RSVP’s
- I kept my husband’s tuxedo and his shoes.
- I kept a lot of things that even surprised me that I had.
- I kept anything that I believed had magical qualities.
Over the years I did end up letting go of many things, as I downsized my storage bins.
It never ever dawned on me to let go of my dress. It never dawned on me to sell it, donate it or do anything else but keep it in the special box with a window. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
My husband died suddenly in July 2009, twelve and a half years after getting married.
Our girls were then aged ten and eight.
Around the time that would have been our thirteenth wedding anniversary, I brought the dress out.
With my girls.
I broke the seal.
I hauled it out.
And the girls tried it on.
I let them play in the magical dress.
One of them said something about wearing my dress on their wedding day. I responded, “No honey, you choose a dress that has YOUR energy, that reflects who you are. This was my dress.”
I repacked the dress after that playtime. Taped it up and returned it to the closet.
It never dawned on me to let go of the dress.
In May of this year I was downsizing my stored treasures. The bin that held the archives of the wedding was on my list.
I looked through each and every card, then let them go.
I read over the guest list and RSVP’s and let them go.
I thinned out the bin, and I let those things go with love and gratitude.
In the last 3 years I had thought about it.
But I resisted. That dress and that bin full of magic and memories was the antithesis of grief.
It held space for me. It held Love. It held magic. I was holding on.
An experience in June inspired me to come home and dive back into that bin, and I was set on unceremoniously letting all of it go.
The experience led me to realize that I had invested in the fact that keeping the dress and all the accoutrements staved off the fact that it triggered unresolved grief.
Keeping the dress, for all its magical qualities, didn‘t take away the grief of loss and death; it didn’t resolve the grief of unrealized dreams; it didn’t mend the grief of my daughters. Grief had consumed the magic.
Getting rid of the dress in that moment, would have satisfied me immensely. It would have assuaged my anger at the realization that holding onto those things was holding me back, rather than taking me back.
But I waited.
I practised what I preach about letting things go with gratitude and love.
I waited until the anger had passed.
I waited until I could find peace in the letting go.
I waited until I was able to feel peace in letting it go.
I waited until I was able to feel gratitude.
I waited until I was able to feel love.
Then I took the dress out peacefully 24 hours later; Layed it on the floor and remembered.
I recalled what the dress felt like, the swoosh of the skirt.
I looked at the detail of the pearls and beads.
I held the dress.
I expressed gratitude for the dress, my husband, my marriage, my wedding and any and all things and people associated with it.
Packed it up and let it go.
Letting it go did not take away the magic from that day.
Letting it go did not magically heal the grief.
Letting it go created space for me to allow for more magic in.