Preorder Wedding Planning for Spoonies

Rainbow and purple watercolor wash with two spoons, one in a bow tie and the other in a wedding dress, holding hands. Above them is a wedding bell and a green and red garland. Scrolling delicate white hearts are in the middle of the book cover with the white all caps MEARA BARTLETT: Wedding Planning for Spoonies: Tips and Inspiration for chronically ill and disabled couples.

The book is officially up for preorder here!

I will be doing promos during the preorder. Regular price after launch will be $10.99. Right now the discount is down to $4.99. During preorder, I will vary the price every two months until launch date of February 14, 2021.

The book has a lot of narrative in it, telling how to plan a wedding through story. I interview several people and tell my story. Then there is the data I gathered from the interviews and the practical side of it.

Wedding Planning For Spoonies: Now With Actual Spoons! 🥄

It’s time for book talk! I’m back to almost 20,000 words after getting the book down to 16,000. That’s quite a feat for a week. And now I have this adorable cover!

It probably is a bit cisgender – but I wanted the rainbow background for a reason. Please give me some #feedback for fun!

For those who don’t know, this is a wedding planning book for the chronically ill and disabled that covers LGBTQ+ as well as cisgender weddings.

Wedding Planning for Spoonies: Inspiration & tips for the chronically ill and disabled

My wedding planning book is going through a few iterations right now. I hope to still work with my editor after doing something really really stupid (in a pain flare I should never email people at night). The plan is to focus on mobility aid users and the chronically ill. It casts a wide net. There are many conditions specifically included, but a few from the categories can be chosen to apply to someone whose condition is not specifically listed.

I’m a bit nervous about the rewrite as it’s a blow to my ego, but I have to remember the point is to help people.

I do think this book could be a game changer if I work hard enough on it.

I’d also appreciate comments on whether or not excluding sight and hearing still makes the book marketable, and how much you like the new title.

If you’re interested in helping, email me at spoonielifestyle@gmail.com.

Issues With Christian Dating

teapot with manicured hand with text "issues with christian dating"

As a recovering Christian who still loves Jesus but objects to large parts of the fundamentalist Christian culture I was raised in, I have some reflections on Christian dating in the light of what’s going on in my personal life.

Most people know that back in ancient times, the 1980s, many people didn’t cohabit. Nowadays for the most part people do cohabit, even if they are Christians. Not so if they fall on the fundamentalist evangelical spectrum, or if they have something to hide.

This makes dating a bit like a high-stakes game of poker. You put on a poker face with the intent that if you bid all, you win all, and you’re able to feed yourself at the end of the night.

In this poker round, you are both the player and your bid. You view your date as the pot. Likewise, your date sees themselves as the player and the bid and you as the pot. What I’m trying to say is, you’re both greedy, hungry, anticipatory, and there’s more than fun and games going on here from the minute you message someone on OK Cupid. You’re objectifying each other. Is this person a good mother? Will he be a good provider? Is he a spiritual leader? Will we make a good home together? What will they give me?

What I’m trying to get at here is that there is no enjoyment of the other person for who they simply are, and there is no fun in dating.

For many high-anxiety types who come from fundamentalist homes, realizing the first time I just sat back and relaxed – or enjoyed myself – was a big deal. I was out of college and hiking on my neighborhood trail. I wasn’t analyzing anything, trying to grapple with hidden meanings, or attempting to ascertain whether I deserved to be viewing nature in all its glory or not. Nature was her own thing. She was cool all by herself. She didn’t serve me. I wasn’t here to get anything out of her other than to see what was up. And, I wasn’t here to persuade nature of anything. I was just walking down a dirt trail, tripping over tree roots, getting sweaty and dirty, purely myself. It was the first time I had done something like this. And I enjoyed it for what it was.

Likewise, I believe healthy secular dating adopts this model. You message someone on Bumble because they seem interesting and you want to see what’s up. There are no wedding bells going off in your head at your first coffee meet up. All this is is a relaxation into a person. If the relaxation turns sharp and uncomfortable, you tell the person goodbye, and you ease on into the next phase of life, whether it involves another person for a while or not.

I’m not saying secular dating is without its pains and pitfalls, because anything involving human beings is messy. But I do believe it has far less dangers than the traditional Christian dating model.

Christian dating is, at its best, objectifying and idolizing, whereas secular dating is far more down to earth and honest. If you want to get to know someone, it’s best to see them as a human being instead of a potential spouse. More open conversations flow that way because there’s less stress and pressure.

I may be writing this because I’ve been burned, but I’ve had other girlfriends coming from fundamentalist evangelical homes echo my sentiments. At the end of the day, it’s up to you whether you want to walk down an aisle blindfolded or slowly acknowledge someone for who they are.

I Got Cinderella’d and It’s Not All Great

My husband and I come from two different worlds. He comes from a different stratosphere than I do. I don’t get along with his family, even before I ran away twice. They mistreated me while we were just dating, and I never really understood why until I looked at class differences and ableism.

I can understand not liking me after what happened in January, but the hate I received before my wedding day didn’t make much sense to me. I was threatened with a letter from a church to stay away from my husband because I was “depressed.” Not to mention all the snide remarks about me being a bed warmer and my husband needing a vasectomy.

Unfortunately most of this was communicated to me through my husband, so it was all secondhand information. But it took me to the point where they have to ask permission to come into my house (which I usually do allow because I was raised to be a hospitable southerner) and I will never, ever voluntarily go into their homes.

In rich families, children are investments. Not in a way that children are investments for the future, but in that they can make money for the family. Who they choose to marry has a direct impact on how much cash the child makes for the family and how much of a financial burden they will be.

I was developing fibromyalgia and lupus symptoms while dating my husband. Most likely I was seen as a money pit. My husband told me his family was afraid I would drag him down.

Let me stop right here with this gosh darn ableism. An able bodied person can drag any slooshin person down. Anybody can drag anybody down. I have some friends I cut out of my life who were nightmares. And dragging someone down is cyclical. I most likely will reintroduce those negative friends again once I feel I can. We’ll start out positive and go back down the negative gravy train eventually, then it’ll get too much. But a marriage is commitment. Part of commitment is saying, “I will love you even when I think you suck.”

People fall down and then they come back up again like a dolphin out of water, complete with sex for pleasure and all.

Rich people tend to hide these basic life lessons from their kids by controlling them with gifts that come with invisible strings only made visible when the kid steps out of line. Basically, rich people scare me.

Mental Health Awareness Month AKA My Life: Why I Am Thankful For Every Night I Spend With My Husband

I suffer from an extreme form of fibromyalgia, which gives me constant pain and even worse pain flares, and post-traumatic stress disorder, which can turn ordinary life experiences into nightmares. Because of this living my life is a bit like Russian roulette: you play your cards but there’s always a price, no matter how they’re dealt. You’re never sure when you’ll get shot, either.

My husband and I have an extra bedroom, and during pain flares I often find myself retreating there to avoid skin-on-skin contact. Even worse is when my PTSD is acting up, or when my pain and PTSD are going bananas at the same time. The spare room is my hidey-hole. It’s right next to my office, and it makes a sort of blanket fort.

After beginning EMDR, my marriage with my husband has significantly improved. The best thing about EMDR for me is the use of imagination to cope with daily life. That’s me in a nutshell. If I feel scared by a loud noise, I can escape to my private worlds and receive comfort instantaneously.

I’ve been in a pain flare for a month, and have spent most of my time in my figurative blanket fort. One time the pain got so bad I started crying. I wanted a friend. Anyone who could acknowledge what I was going through.

I plodded through the house in tears, calling my husband’s name. I knew he was my friend. He was and is my best friend. It was midnight, and I was afraid he would come out of our bedroom in a huffy attitude. But I was met with buttery, gentle sympathy. He caught me in a warm, tender embrace as I cried, and I knew I wasn’t alone in this battle.

“Do you want to spend the night in bed with me tonight?”

I didn’t hesitate.

“Yes. Yes, yes, yes.”

We went off to bed and I slept hard, for the first time in a month. I woke up in time for breakfast with him. My pain flare wasn’t gone, but it had abated a little. But I was happy to see his face next to me in the morning.

Marriage gives you a guardian angel to watch over you, someone to fight with you and for you, and you likewise, when it’s a good one. I just needed to remember to reach out. My husband had been shelved by my physical and mental turmoil, and I merely had to remember he was my friend to find peace and solace.

Spending the night with my husband is not something that happens every night, and I don’t think that’s a doomsday marker for my marriage. It’s not because we fight. It’s not because we don’t love each other. We are learning how to cope with my physical and mental ailments together, and we will spend the night together every night as I improve and we both learn to communicate. I have hope and gratitude for us. This is why I am thankful for every night I spend with my husband.

The Absolute Realness on PTSD and Marriage

Before Bear and I married, we honestly didn’t know how bad my PTSD was. I knew I had it to some degree, but it was vanquished because I didn’t talk about it. It was simply buried like a honey-badger about to attack our tiny baby marriage from beneath the surface. Does anyone remember that meme?

I remembered how bad my PTSD was when it first started. I would scream in the shower and twist my shampoo bottles across the water. I’d cry randomly in everyday places. Eventually I developed chronic pain once I did stop talking about it. I turned online to vent my fears. But the biggest thing was, the medical professionals denied my PTSD because I kept it under control by staying single for 6 years until I decided to date again, at my roommate’s suggestion.

Once I did, my career spiraled out of control. I began to see and hear things that did not exist at work coming from my male coworkers. There was no way I could work in an office. By the time I quit my job was the time I started going steady with my husband, who had no idea what was actually going on. Neither did I – I thought I had developed schizophrenia.

The same thing would happen at three more places of employment before I gave up and went to grad school, which was a lovely experience. But once I had a new permanent male figure in my life, the craziness exploded again – this time at my husband.

We’ve discovered that letting each other be open and vulnerable even over subjects the other thinks is stupid is the key to getting through our current situation. I’m no longer hearing monsters in the night. Tonight we slept in the same bed for the first time in two weeks. Not because he asked me to leave the room, but because I was hiding. That must have felt horrible to him.

I accomplished two sessions of EMDR this past week, and I think it’s responsible for getting my mind to chill out enough to communicate with my husband. I recommend it for anyone needing trauma therapy. Yes, you can do it remotely.

Warm hugs.

My 1/3 Anniversary

Yesterday, on 4/20 (I did that intentionally) I had my third of a year anniversary.

My marriage has been a fairytale. But not the easy Disney kind. More like the Brothers Grimm kind or the Central Europe kind, where people become disfigured or disabled in the quest for true love. What I’m saying is, you get your magical happily ever after, but magic takes manna and happiness requires danger.

Bear and I have been through a lot over the past four months. Most of it has been because of my untreated PTSD that I’m just now getting treated. I sought help throughout my life, but because I had it buried so deep within me it exploded on my wedding night.

Today I performed a literal song and dance number to express to Bear my feelings about our situation. Then I decided he just needed to hear that he was a good husband, to keep trying, as I would keep trying.

On the day of our anniversary I went into our back yard and picked two of our roses. I put them in the cup we painted together on our first valentines day. I hoped the effect was special enough to override any of the bad juju we’d been through.

When I picked the roses, I noticed how soft and velveteen they felt. I grew up in a literal rose garden. My mother’s yellow roses and my grandfather’s red heirloom roses climbed the walls of my childhood home.
Whenever I see a rose, I am reminded of childhood play, happiness, and my mother’s love.

I had quite a garden as a child, and I grew up exploring the plants and little critters that came with it. But there were always the roses climbing the walls and flower beds.

Bear isn’t giving me a rose garden, but he is giving me a pergola covered with climbing roses once the coronapocalypse is over. We’re going on a road trip to the best rose seller in the state, and I will pick out my favorites. I’lll most likely be a kid in a candy store.

Anyways, Bear, life may not be a rose garden, but it will be a rose pergola with you. Happy one third of an anniversary!

How My Relationship With My Husband Changed After Chronic Illness: Assorted Roses, Assorted Feelings

Typically I try to paint as positive a light as possible of my husband and I’s relationship on this blog. This is partially because I try to do my part to build up our fledgling marriage, but I need to talk about something some of the recently diagnosed may be experiencing by their romantic partner:

Infantilization.

Your parter is now the parent and you are now the child in the relationship. The equality you once sought and enjoyed is gone.

At first you may have fell into the parent/child relationship out of need or heaven forbid, preference. But you quickly realize that the unequal power ratio is unhealthy and you seek ways to make your partner value you for who you are despite your meager bringings to the capitalist table.

You may be completely disabled. So you go online for activism, community, and to see if you can make a buck that way. Or perhaps you can work part time. But before, you had a job job. And your partner has a fancy job job and multiple degrees.

Distraught by the bullying, mockery, and name calling, you wonder why they fell in love with you in the first place. In your mind it certainly wasn’t your soul and ability to make a vegan gluten free jambalaya from scratch. Otherwise, they’d treat you better.

But your partner is power tripping, and you don’t know what to do other than leave and find someone in the underworld like you.

If you can relate to this, you aren’t alone, and I’m still figuring it out too. Take heart.

The Safe Man

I’m going to be writing about trauma therapy and marriage again today, because that’s my life right now. This is not a Whiner McBabypants post where I talk about my specific trauma, rather, these are my reflections on life, love, and marriage as a disabled woman.

You know when you just feel sad, and you just want to be sad? Your husband will cook dinner, do the dishes and watch romcoms with you but you don’t want any of it, you want to feel your own pain?

When I look back on my former life as an able-bodied model, I would call myself ungrateful. This lack of gratitude drug into my life as a disabled person, and later as a disabled married person.

Part of this led to walls-up mode. Most people think I wear my heart on my sleeve, but really this is an act of pushing people away by oversharing. If someone really wanted my honest opinion, they’d probably have to cross Jurassic Antartica with added volcanoes to get it.

I finally revealed this to my husband today, with the caveat that for most of my life, I didn’t think people were safe. But when I put his wedding band on his finger, I marked him as someone who was safe. It was my job to get out of Jurassic Antartica and place him in the sunnier meadows of my mind so I could hear him out, and ultimately communicate with him.

I really don’t have anyone or anything I’m more grateful for than him. He finished building a 4 ft tall aromatherapy garden for me today. It’s that tall so I don’t hurt myself by bending over.

Remember, learning to love is just as hard as accepting it!