To wrap up the Joshua Tree engagement series, my initial inclination was to write about the National Park. Honestly I could go on and on about how breathtaking it was, how we’d never seen anything like it, how we drove around in our convertible enjoying the warm, dry breeze and jamming out to our favorite tunes, and also how Zach saved me from a rattlesnake on a hike. But when I was driving home from work thinking about how we were coming up on our six month wedding anniversary, I realized I needed to share about something else.
With topics like relationships and love, in my opinion (and my own experience) there is typically more than meets the eye. What I don’t want to do is share only the good and the easy parts of life, and paint an inaccurate picture of my reality.
My experience of life and love leading up to being engaged wasn’t all roses. Zach and I dated on-and-off for 12 years (yes I said 12) before getting engaged. There were numerous difficult break-ups, but one of them stands out amongst the rest. It was a dark period that I can now reflect on as a time of immense learning and profound growth as a person. To put it in more realistic terms, it was a period of tears, confusion, depression, and anxiety. It was a time where I learned about self-care. It was the start of my continuous journey to separate myself from the labels that I, or others, might place on me. Through counseling, support from family and friends (seriously if you were around for this I applaud you, you were a God-send), and significant amounts of time, I turned a corner. This turned into new life-long friendships, discovery of interests and hobbies, and a more stable self-identity.
The point here is that I have had to endure the valleys in life and love, to really appreciate the view from the top of the mountains. There is no shame in my experience of the valleys. Just putting it in writing is empowering, and I hope that it serves as a reminder to myself down the road.
One of my favorite encouragements during this time (thank you Brookey) was from a letter written by John Steinbeck to his son Thom regarding love:
“And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.”
The entire letter is one of the most beautifully written pieces on love I’ve ever read, and I encourage you to read the entire thing here.
When in a period of darkness or waiting, it’s really a period of learning and growing, and there is no shame in the depths of its impacts. And know that the time will come when you can look back, stronger than ever, thankful.