It was a size 4 Maggie Sottero designer gown. As soon as I put it on, I knew it was the dress.
My grandmother, mother, and sister were with me when I tried it on and stood cautiously in front of the three-way mirrors on the pedestal outside the dressing room.
The dress shopping day soon became a tradition among wedding plans as each of us sisters repeated it when we got engaged. It was one of my most favorite and cherished memories with my grandmother, who passed away this summer, after a painful struggle with mental health issues for much of the latter part of her life.
I distinctly remember trying on this dress and my grandma starting to cry. I was the oldest grandchild and we had shared a special bond. Seeing me married was something she often told me that she doubted she would see due to her struggles.
The day of the dress shopping was wonderful, glorious, and full of memories with my grandmother. The last memory I had with her before I committed myself to a man; a bittersweet moment that symbolized a goodbye of my former life as a single girl. The last memory I had with her while still being the independent woman she so effortlessly illustrated for me with her remarkable life.
The Reality of Divorcing a Narcissist
I am now desperate to divorce a man who refuses to return my wedding dress, despite me sending copious emails in which I am begging for my cherished dress to be returned, in addition to asking my lawyers to ask his lawyer, all of which have proven to be ineffective. This is the reality of divorcing a narcissist who tries to do anything and everything they can to hurt you.
Besides being somewhat disturbing, it is also very sad, because it shows the level of destruction that a very miserable person wishes to enact upon another, in the form of punishment for setting boundaries that any reasonable and healthy person would set. Boundaries that I would want my daughters and sons to set if they had similar experiences in any relationship.
The dress is just a dress. That’s all it is. There is no resale value to speak of and no other sentimental value other than it what it represents to me. I suspect that is why he is so set on keeping it from me.
Regardless, the dress day was perfect. No one can erase the memory of the perfect dress day with three generations of independent women who have become exemplars to me in my journey of messiness and triumphs. I hold onto this memory forever.
My divorce has played out in a public way at times, as I have been transparent in my trauma and subsequent healing; staying true to my commitment to live authentically even if it means losing things I once held dear. I have lost a lot of those things along this road. Maybe that is satisfying to those who wish me ill. But mostly it is just life. And growth.
Grief is messy and ungraceful, and I’ve never pretended it isn’t. But healing from darkness is the process in which glorious fabrics are woven. When I look back at wedding day photos; I see a bright-eyed girl, fresh in her naïveté, full of hope in the future, and committed to trying everything she could to fulfill her role as wife, mother, and helpmate.
Now, though, this girl is not gone, nor is she forgotten, but she is real and true, poked and prodded, made magnified by love and loss carefully and tediously knitted into her seams. She is still a part of me, a part that I cherish; she is not tucked away in a dark corner of my heart or placed in a glass box high up on a closet shelf. No, instead she is woven in each thread of my tapestry of beadwork, detailed embroidery, and lace overlay.
She is there with her optimism in promises and love of redemption. She is there with her dashed hopes and lessons learned. She is there with the fierce knowledge that life goes on and never goes as planned. She is there with her wisdom that life is not a one-size-fits-all subscription box.
She is there because she had women, strong and amazing women, who wonderfully embodied these qualities for her to pattern her own life after when the twists and turns came. And they did come.
Because it’s not just a perfect designer dress. It’s a dress that designed a perfectly imperfect life. And for this, I am the lucky one.