Written by Michelle A. Dowell-Vest/A Gurlz Guide
On Saturday, June 14, 2014, under a colorful Japanese Maple tree, in a park in the middle of Washington, D.C., I became Michelle A. Dowell-Vest. I married the woman created just for me. It was magical, it was awesome, and it was the culmination of an entire year of an online romance turned magical life together.
We lived and loved out loud and … I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I met my wife, online, through a mutual friend on Facebook. I had never dated anyone I met off of Facebook, but she was so irresistible I couldn’t help myself. I remember seeing a picture of her a year and a half before we started dating and saying to myself, “Man, I would love to get to know her.” There was so much that happened in my life between that first time I laid eyes on her and the moment I actually laid my eyes on her. This last year was an amazing adventure but it didn’t come without its lessons.
I thought I would share some of them with you.
Starting Over Was Everything ~ I left Atlanta in April of 2013. Atlanta, was home to me for seven years and it was good to me until it just wasn’t. When I left, I felt relief. I was able to heal in a way that I deeply needed. I was able to find myself again. I need to leave so that I could be ready for her. Ironically, she lived in Atlanta. Had we met while I was there, our relationship would have been very different. I may not have been as well prepared to love her as I was by starting over and relinquishing the Atlanta residue that hovered over me. Don’t be afraid to start over.
Be Equally Yoked~ My wife and I are very similar. We are independant, driven, Type-A personalities with a touch of professional ADHD and noticeable egos. We are both artists in our own right with a commitment to our individual dreams and goals. It was funny, when we started dating, everyone who knew us as individuals, said they could totally see us together and didn’t know why they didn’t think to introduce us. We respect each other immensely so there is no competition. It’s so important to be equally yoked. You don’t have to do the same thing professionally, but you do have to have similar interests. Life is just more fun that way. We became partners in not just life but in business.
Love Shows Up The Way I Expected It To~ I was telling my wife the other day that every relationship I had before her chipped away at my own “stuff.” By the time she came along, I was expecting the love of my life. I was expecting to get married and to love deeply. I was open to it and ready for it. I had spent a year speaking healing to myself and love into the universe. I spent a year purposefully waking up, every morning, with the mission of becoming whole. I told the universe what I wanted and she showed up, exactly how I spoke of her. The way you speak about love, is exactly the way it will show up. Be careful of your words.
Our Relationship, Our Rules~ So much of our initial courtship was long distance. We didn’t have the benefit of Friday date nights or sleepovers. We created our own brand of courtship and we did it our way. We decided how we would flirt, how we would love and how we would present that to the world. We flirted, courted and loved out loud. Really out loud. We realized early on that we both loved online PDA and we showed it, without shame or fear. It was about us being us and having the freedom love our way. We just happened to do it out loud. Do your relationship your way, Period! Michael S. Rosenwald with The Washington Post wrote an article about online love and featured us. If you missed it, click Here to check it out.
Everybody Wasn’t Happy For Us~ The universe removed people from my life who were not supportive. I experienced, who I thought were close friends, tell me that our “out loud” brand of love made them uncomfortable, so they de-friended me on line and eventually in real life. I experienced the loss of a close friend because I planned my original wedding date just a little too close to hers. I learned that some friends didn’t believe me to be capable of making my own decisions about love, only to realize later that they were reflecting their own broken love concepts onto me. I experienced people having online discussions about the validity of my relationship and engagement. I understand that we lived our love out loud, and critics were to be expected. I guess I expected these women to have some degree of class, and expected them to at least save that conversation for girls night out, or a phone call to gossip. It was so reminiscent of mean girls. I realized that some people only want you around when you are sad, broken and needy. I realized that some people who love you when you are broken, will be unable to love you when you are whole. Somehow your brokenness makes then feel better about themselves. And I learned that it’s OK to let go. I let go of them all.
Life Will Shift~Roll With It~ All of those preconceived notions of what you think you can control, let them go. I learned that rolling with the day by day adjustments to our new life together, was so much more important than me controlling everything. I’m a control freak so this was a huge shift for me. I made a great choice in a mate, so I can trust her to always do what is right for us and what’s in our best interest. I trust my choice, I trust her decisions.
Eloping was Awesome~ When we first announced our engagement, we had plans of a big, elaborate wedding. As time went on we were less and less motivated to plan and pay for that wedding. We really wanted something simple and organic to our energy and to be surrounded only by our family. That is what we did and we didn’t feel bad about it. It was the right move for us. It’s not your mom’s, or friends’, in-laws, or best friend’s wedding. It is yours. So plan the wedding that fits you and be unapologetic about it. Set your plan in motion and invite others to share in your happiness and celebration in the way that fits your vision for your wedding, reception and honeymoon.
Love Inspires More Love~ I wish I kept a list of how many people have in-boxed my wife and I and thanked us for loving out loud. It inspired them to repair relationships, to love without fear, to start a conversation with their crush and to believe in love again. Those conversations trumped any of the negativity that came our way.
I love that our love inspired more love. I love that my best friend got the nerve to reach out to someone who she had been watching for a while. I love that they are now engaged. I love that our flirting inspired another couple to rekindle their romance and now are happier than they have ever been. I love that our love gave hope and a renewed belief in love for some who had all but written it off.
Love is Only As Scary As We Make It ~ For those who are afraid to love, lay down your fear. Each relationship we experience is practice. It’s OK to practice. Practice often. Make mistakes, get your heart broken, cry. Each time you love and lose, you come that much closer to your one. Your heart will bounce back, I promise. You will find love. Just don’t be afraid. And that is NOT easy for me to say. I have been heart broken but I survived and you will too. Courage is rewarded with love. Be courageous! I am thankful for my wife, the road that I have traveled and the journey that lay ahead.
“Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now”~ Dr. Maya Angelou