I just sat on my bed with my laptop all ready to write to you, debating on whether to talk about this very topic and the TV randomly turned on without me touching it –wait for it, to a matchmaker mystery show.
Of course I was like “Aunty, is that you?” and found myself watching a quality Hallmark for some kind of message from beyond. For those of you who are new here I most recently wrote a tribute to my beloved aunt who passed from cancer and I am kind of expecting her to reach out to me from the other side, you know once she’s had a chance to rest and maybe bend a spoon with her mind. I don’t want to be pushy.
So the TV randomly popping on had my attention. I provide match coaching, as well as coaching on all matters relationship, so we’re at least relevant if not synchronistic or down right ghosty.
Let me catch you up to speed on this special by paraphrasing some of the opening dialogue:
“She’s going to be a hard one to match, are you sure you want to take her on as a client?” Two well dressed woman walk with purpose down the halls of a well decorated office.
“I love a challenge. She wants a Prince Charming I’ll find her one”.
“No actual princes. Did you see item #44. No complicated family backgrounds”. Some chipper canned laughter follows.
Then there’s some murder and mystery thrown in and back to the office where Angie Dove, resident matchmaker and TV personality chats with her assistant about their newest client, who has worked hard for her success and wants someone who is as glorious on paper as she is.
Ms. Love then throws up two pictures on the whiteboard. One is a polished looking gent with a winsome smile in a tailored suit. The other a nerdy looking fella in a crap sweater. More dialogue:
“Um this violates at least six of her requirements right out of the gate”. The assistant is shocked but not yet intrigued.
“Prince Charming is what she thinks she wants, but sometimes what we think we want isn’t actually what we need”. Well now Ms. Love is flexing some of her matchmaking muscle.
The mystery heats up. There are brooding detectives and tall publishers with sculpted cheek bones. Poison is involved.
Then some filming for the Angie Dove show. Theme; her new client on a first date.
The camera pans to the pretend camera panning to the attractive professional couple who stroll and talk about charities they are both involved in. He plucks a tulip from a garden and hands it to her with a one dimensional smile.
“Looks like it’s going well. He’s everything she wanted,” says the perky assistant.
“But look at her body language. Her lips are pursed. She is standing away from him. She wants to like him, but she doesn’t,” Angie Dove schools.
“If you thought she’d be better with sweater man, why’d you set her up with Prince Charming first?”
“Sometimes you have to get what you think you want, in order to realize what you really want.”
Mic drop. There it is. Plucky and wise, that Angie Love.
Always one step ahead. Who needs professional help when there are these kind of answers just one cable subscription away.
But what does this have to do with buying your wedding dress, Erin? Isn’t that what you planned to tell us about today?
Right well let me get back to that story. It was the turn of the century. We had worked out enough of our shit that we arrived at this very healthy happy relationship place my honey and I, which led to talk of marriage with maybe a year timeline in mind. And then, surprise! I was pregnant. Well, guess what no bride to be ever daydreams of when it’s time to plan their DAY. A large round belly, that is what. Or extra pounds of any garden variety. This was a decision making crisis. So I called up my sister. To say that I was happy with my relationship was an understatement. I wanted the wedding not to cement my commitment but for the celebration, the pageantry, the joy the food the dancing and yes, the dress. It’s not for everyone, but I love dresses and dress up, and it was oh so important to me to give myself this glorious rite of passage into family life. I laid it out. If we can find me a dress I feel pretty in we’re planning a wedding in six weeks. If not, we wait. It was either get ahead of my weight gain, or recovering a postpartum body with a new baby in tow. I looked up to the sky to casually invoke Aphrodite or basically any goddess who was willing to oversee my personal emergency. And off to the dress shop we went.
Girls and wedding dresses have a relationship. We have expectations. It was already painful to know at best I would gain ten pounds before the big day, when most of us want to lose a few or down right boot camp our way to the isle. Also, you know I was properly pregnant which means hormones. Just to give you some dress day lead up. There were pre game magazines. I came into the shop with a vision of my moment of glory. Think Stevie Nicks with flowy sleeves and a wind machine. Some white doves. Okay I didn’t want real doves, just the ethereal mystique of the wild white winging. The world for a few days was my own personal music video.
I am certain that if she hadn’t already recited the serenity prayer before I got there, the sales associate was crossing herself by the time I described my ideal garment. We got a live one here Betty, she was obviously whispering in the back room where she looked at her Starbucks for strength.
Then it went like this; I used adjectives like flowy, diaphanous, ethereal, ornate.
She came out with dresses that either didn’t look right, or more often didn’t look right on me.
My sister and I huddled around the dressing room mirror, conferencing about nips and tucks and alterations but with little hope for an outcome, short of a fairy godmother, or a nip and tuck to my waist.
After a dozen or so times I went silent. The dainty dress on the hanger had morphed somehow into a tube with petals stuck to it once it contained ME. I need a minute, I snapped when my sweet sister asked if she could see. I am sure she was thinking about sending in reinforcement, or just a chocolate cake with a single fork. And this is when the smartly quiet associate seized her moment. Sticking her hand directly into the tiger’s cage she asked “Can I suggest one?”
Well Friend, I didn’t so much as agree but acquiesce. “Why not?”. Could it get any worse?
And just like that I was certain it could because the dress she brought was sleeveless. WHAT!!! You guessed it. Number 44 on my “no” list. Okay I didn’t have 44 items. But sleeves were non negotiable. I did not have ballerina arms. I still do not have ballerina arms. She might have just as well brought me a football jersey, replete with ginormous foam shoulder pads and sweat. So, imagine my giddy surprise and delight when the fairy dust sprinkled down from the overhead lights and tiny bells rang. A love spell was cast across the Queendom! Could it be true friend? Right there in the mirror before me was a glamourous sophisticated beauty with a tiny waist. “I’m getting married!” I cheered. Kristen came in. We invited the associate in. The whole world remarked on my bridely beauty. I thanked her. I professed her talents. I beamed gratitude upon her. We had a hug. The owner came in. Happiness was contagious but there was no Covid, back then we were worried about Y2K, so cute! By the end of the whole affair they had given me a free necklace and earrings because I was such a pleasure to serve.
So what the actual deuce? Hallmark is right?!!!! Does this mean we should give up on our hopes and dreams. Date the uppity girl or the guy with the sloppy soupy tie? SETTLE??? Of course not. No one wants us to settle. Savvy bridal boutique associates don’t want us in the ugly dress. Rather, they help us cross the bridge from white winged doves to classic silhouette. From bell sleeves to feminine, graceful and delicate, which it turns out I wanted more than to look like the female lead from a 70’s rock video. I just didn’t see it. Coaches and matchmakers help us get from the bench to the playing field and from the checklist to the destination wedding. This doesn’t mean we have to date someone who shows up in dirty laundry, literal or metaphorical.
The thing is about this story, and so very weirdly this episode of Mystery Matchmaker, is that when you find what you actually want you actually feel good. Like actually. You don’t hold grudges about how you got there. You just love everyone. It’s all rainbows and kittens. You don’t need to protect yourself from those who are trying to help you because everyone’s on your side and you suddenly become aware of that.
At the end of the day they –WE want you to feel like fifty million bucks or a string of pearls. That is what WE get out of bed for. And sometimes that means patiently supporting you through the ugly ill fitting dresses until we get to the magic. Until you are open to the magic.
Does this mean we are all that blind to what we want and need? No. Not really at all. What we think we want and what we know we don’t, tell us all kinds of things about ourselves. They lead our coaches to pain points and triggers, which also don’t look amazing in our dress or our suit when we are walking down the isle on the big day. And they give clues about how we want to feel, and whether the Ivy League woman or the social justice warrior is going to get us there.
Recently I have coached some lovely humans to relationships that would not have made it through the vetting process, their own personal “lists” but have been healthier and happier than they have known.
The nature of help, and the nature of the human condition is that we don’t have to do it all alone. That is not the point of being alive.
I mean don’t get me wrong. I still like Stevie. She’s still my spirit animal and I still have a white winged dove in my heart, cuddled up to my pet hamster. But when I make a list these days I always add a healthy dose of “or better” at the end. Better than I can see or imagine from this set of eyes and ears alone, because help, like happiness, looks good on all of us.
P.S. 2021 I am bringing on the love. I’ll be featured in a podcast all about better loving, from healing your broken heart to intentional dating to creating a relationship that thrives, and I’ll be launching a sister site for all of you relationship and love enthusiasts, with all kinds of insights and offerings. Stay tuned!
P.P.S. One of the kindest things you can do for me is to share my writing. If you enjoyed today’s Monday Musing and know someone else who would please forward it to a friend.