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Crisis Management

I promise we will return to our regularly-scheduled blog about education, psychology, and all my little friends in the public schools after this last wedding post. I'm back from the most amazing wedding and honeymoon, and have been sloooooowly returning to civilian life. It's weird, at work, no one wants to hug me, take my photo, tell me how beautiful I look, and give me a gift for being in love, like at the wedding. Weird.

I am compelled to write one last post about the wedding, especially since the last one gave the impression that it was all smooth sailing. And as my kids say, I'm keeping it real. So, you know those shows where the bride freaks out over a miniscule detail and you roll your eyes at how lame she is? Well, I finally get it. I was that bride for a moment. I am somewhat ashamed to admit this, since my work as a school psychologist should have MORE than prepared me for any wedding crisis, great or small. In my work in urban public schools, I have dealt with the following crises:

-Female teacher being arrested for sleeping with one of my 8th grade students
-Drive-by shooting of school
-Police shoot-outs in front of school yard of students
-Multiple bomb threats (by PARENTS of the school, mind you)
-Stray cat population with ringworm invading school on state testing day
-And so much more...

So one would think I could handle an itty-bitty wedding crisis. Especially since I was Bride-chilla), right?

Well the problem was, I didn't take the advice that I usually give out to others about not taking on too many things at once. So in addition to planning a 3-day destination wedding, I also foolishly selected the weekend before said blessed event to take the final board certification exam to be a clinical psychologist. This is essentially the Bar Exam for psychologists, which is the final, final, little flag we have to plant on our mountainous journey from Educational Psychologist (specializing in school-related problems) to Clinical Psychologist (specializing in any problem, for any age). And if I didn't pass the exam, I would have to wait another 6 months to take it. No pressure. The good news is, I passed! Then, I had the rest of my week to simply run around town doing everything else for the wedding. I was in good shape. Or so I thought.

Three days before the wedding, I went to the bridal store to pick up my gorgeous gown, on the way to picking up the rings, meeting fiance for final dance lesson, and packing for the wedding and honeymoon. I was on a military-precision time-line. Picking up the dress was the fun part! And yet, when they opened up the bag to show me my dress, I had my one and only bridal melt-down, Bridezilla-style.

There was a spot on my dress.

I know, not that big of a deal, right? WRONG. I apparently hadn't been following my own advice and had been bottling up all my stress, because I just burst into tears.* The bridal staff moved into Defcon 2 mode and started talking into their wrists all secret-service style, "Um, we got a 210 in progress--crying bride. Go! Go! Go!" They mobilized the platoon of staff around me and the dress, got out the tissues and the haz-mat-style gloves and began the inspection as I sobbed. Every solution they offered was not acceptable. They offered to try to get it out further, but there was no guarantee that it wouldn't make it worse. They offered to try to sew a fold over the spot in a way that fit the style, but that would have taken time and potentially gone horribly wrong. I said, sarcastically through tears, "why don't we just iron on a jean-patch on my designer dress if we're going to do that!" Keep in mind, this was a minuscule little spot, but all my stress morphed into that spot, staring at me with it's .01% imperfection. Sure, 99.99% of everything else was going well, but I couldn't mobilize my crisis management skills and left the shop in tears.

I managed to get to my dance lesson and collapsed into fiance's arms, but when I started telling my story of trauma, it became clear that it wasn't about the spot. It was about dealing with imperfection on a day that I wanted to be perfect. On the actual day, I couldn't even really find the spot again, perhaps it was a stress mirage. In any event, I survived the great spot crisis of 2009, and the wedding went perfectly. I can't even put into words how amazing it felt to see all the hard work pay off into a beautiful day of love and happiness with friends and family. Okay, maybe I can put it into words, but no without sounding like a big cheezeball. And for future brides, or anyone going through several life transitions at a time, do as I say, and not as I do:

1) Rely on your friends and family. Delegate the things you don't really need to be doing yourself. It's hard if you tend toward perfectionism. But trust me, you can't do it all yourself.

2) Remember, at the end of the day, no one will remember if you had roses or tulips, or the small details. They'll remember how happy you were to be getting married. Say to yourself, "All I need is an officiant and my partner, the rest doesn't matter." And as my friend said, "And if the officiant doesn't show up, I'm sure someone can get their internet reverend credentials on their iPhones real quick."

3) Don't put too much on your plate at once. Confucius once said, "You cannot go in all directions at once." Smart guy.

4) Helping professionals: don't be afraid to be HELPED. People like to help. You like to help, right? So do others.

5) Express your stress and continue to utilize your coping skills during stressful times, especially exercise. Even if it is a 20 minute walk. You'll tell yourself you don't have time. C'mon. You have 20 minutes.

6) Elope. Just kidding.

*It reminds me of the first time I cried at work. My principal had never seen me lose it before and she was so surprised and didn't know what to do. My fellow counselor friend just clapped her hands and squealed, "Yea! She's human!" If you want to be a school psychologist, be prepared to check your perfectionism at the door. It's a messy field. Took me YEARS to figure that out. Years.


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