Friday, April 25, 2014

Year #1: A Reflection

Today, as I reflect on this past year, learning to be a wife and to do life with someone else, I realize how beautiful of a day it is. I know someone's getting married today, and probably outside because they were a risk-taker like myself.  Well lucky for them, there's a 0% chance of precipitation today in this part of North Carolina. {As much as I want to "get over it," it's still hard. BUT} somewhere someone is getting married outside today and it will rain. First of all, I hope you have a plan B. And second, I hope your plan B is as beautiful as mine was. My plan B wedding was beautiful, but what made it the most beautiful was the people there. I will never forget that day as the day spent with all my loved ones, supporting Alex and I as we began our life together. The efforts from those who had to move things around at the last minute, get wet in the rain, and stress for me did not go unnoticed and I will forever be grateful. I promise you that. 

But, today I am not really reflecting on our wedding day, but the crazy year following that wedding day. 

They say the first year of marriage is hard. I'm scared to say it's the worst, because you never know what the future holds, BUT-- I can see how some people say it's the worst. As you may or may not know/care, Alex and I did not live together before we were married. So it went a little something like this: You have the hustle and bustle of wedding planning, followed by one of you moving (for us, it was, and then all of a sudden you have a roommate, who is not only a boy, but is now your HUSBAND! That's a lot to do and a lot to figure out in a short amount of time. The good news is, we have the rest of our lives to figure it out.

This past year, a lot has happened:
  • I moved (like I said) for the 11th time in eight years. (No joke. I am not a fan.)
  • We spent a week honeymooning in paradise. (We highly recommend Sandals Grande Riviera in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.) 
  • I finished my first and (little did I know) last full school year doing school-based therapy at Bessemer City Middle School. I really miss the staff there and most of my kids. ;) That had the potential to be an amazing job. 

  • I spent two months taking a break from life, work, and stress. I consistently worked out, slept well, ate carbs again, and didn't gain any weight back from my pre-wedding diet. I had lots of girl time with my gal pals and spent lots of time at my in-laws' pool. It was amazing.
  • I started a new position at work in August. I absolutely hated it and unfortunately, it showed in and affected every area of my life. 
  • In September, we had less than a week to decide if we were going to move. An opportunity arose for us to invest in another fixer-upper and we jumped on the chance. I say that lightly, but putting our house on the market, fixing a house up for a month, and then moving (for my now 12th time in 8 years) was taxing. Taxing, but worth it. 

  • "Before"
    • By November, I was looking for a plan B. I signed up to take the Praxis so I could obtain my school counseling licensure. Working in mental health was not what I thought it was going to be and I couldn't let the negatives of my job continue to affect the rest of my life. I wasn't even seeing clients anymore, so I didn't have much left to miss. 
    • I learned a great lesson. I learned that no matter how perfect something seems, if it's not God's will, you need to be able to walk away. I had the most amazing job interview. I nailed it, or so I thought. We laughed. I answered all their questions promptly and with ease. We discussed start dates and me having to put in a notice at my current job. They told me they valued my integrity. They complimented me often during the interview. And more importantly, I had connections. I was told I'd hear from them within 2 days as I was their last interview. I waited patiently to hear back. Christmas break came and went. I never heard another word. As perfect as it had seemed, I had to let it go. I was still miserable at my current job, but knew God had something better in mind. As perfect as I thought that job opportunity was, it obviously wasn't. (Note to employers: Don't say you'll notify an interviewee either way if you don't plan on doing so. That's just mean.) It's a perfect life lesson to take with me in all aspects of life: Just because something seems perfect, doesn't mean it's for your best. Let God do the working out; you'll thank Him later. 
    • We celebrated our first holidays as husband and wife. We've been together many-o-holidays in the past 10ish years together; however, we've never actually celebrated all holidays fully together. It was awesome and different and a learning experience. I am grateful we have so many loved ones to visit. Balancing how to see them all in a decent amount of time without going crazy will be something we hope to figure out in years to come. :)  

    Merry Christmas from the Mullens!
    • I started my new job at the end of January. Saying "see you later" to my life working in mental health, and to my amazing co-workers was tough, but I knew it was necessary. I didn't worry about seeing my co-workers again. Almost all of us have left now and we get together on a regular basis to have girl time. Real friends stay in touch. I value my time, experience, and relationships formed from working in mental health, but now it's time to start new experiences and form new relationships. 
    • I have yet to complain about my new job. It may come in the future, but it's 10x better than the day-to-day I previously faced, emotionally speaking. It is absolutely draining to hate your job. Once I started my new job, I had to figure out how to get my life back. I (of course) had gained back every pound I had previously lost. (Stress and depression will do that to ya.) I had to get back to eating better, getting rest, exercising again, and trying to be the wife and friend I knew I could be.  That's tough--knowing you need to do better in 10+ areas of life and trying to improve in them all at the same time, knowing it's what you and your husband deserve. That alone is stressful, but I am thankful for the opportunity to be able to try. I am super grateful for Alex being as supportive as he has been. He is so thankful for my new job as well, and he tells me he sees a difference in my mood, spirit, and energy since changing jobs. He was there on days I needed him to give me a lift. He was there for me on days I needed him to hand me chocolate and just let me wallow. And that's reason #261 why I love being married, and love being married to Alex. 
    • We just spent our last week of year #1 in Mexico, celebrating our one year anniversary.

    • ...and Alex started his new job the day we came back from vacation.

    • That's a lot of big changes. That's a lot of transition, which brings lots of emotion. Learning to juggle those emotions with learning how to live with a new person and BE MARRIED is tough stuff, which probably has something to do with the fact that people say the first year is the toughest. But man oh man, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I am eternally grateful to say that I am married to my husband, to his family, and to our life together. I am no longer me, I am part of an us. A for-real, legit, committed, signed and sealed official, and ready-for-the-long-haul version of us. That's scary but so awesome at the same time. I am no longer responsible for just me (which I have always struggled with), but I am also responsible for half of us (and sometimes both of us, haha) and that's something I need. It's good and healthy for me to learn to live, grow, and be with my favorite husband. It's good to have someone you can be 100% vulnerable with, and I think it's even better that we chose to wait to figure life out together until we were married. This way, there's no exit option. ;) Haha.... but really, we chose and vowed to not only live life together, but to figure out how to do it in a way that's best for us and hopefully glorifies the Lord along the way. We have learned a lot about life, each other, and what it means to be married this year. But all in all, we know we have a LOT left to learn. We are newbies at this. We WILL mess up but we WILL figure out how to fix it, some how, some way, at some time. We are in this together and for that, I am pretty excited to see what year #2 holds. I'm sure it'll bring some sort of transition. Each year seems to do that. But togetherness is what it's about. I am so thankful for the other half of my us. I feel secure knowing he tries to make every decision with my and our best in mind.

      I always hoped I'd get to marry my high school sweetheart; he had a lot of great qualities. Thank God we're not who we were in high school, but as we grew up, still gravitated towards each other. I thought I liked him when I was in 10th grade...but high school Alex has nothing on adult Alex and I am so thankful I got to marry adult Alex!! Like I said above, "Just because something seems perfect, doesn't mean it's for your best. Let God do the working out; you'll thank Him later." 

      Staying tuned to see what favor we'll experience and lessons we'll learn together in year #2.....
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