What do you do when your engagement is called off? What is it like to heal properly? How do you heal, forgive, handle the broken heart and how do you move on? How did I move on happily married now? Do I think about it?
* I write this from a female perspective but I know many gentleman have come across this blog post too so I want you to know I am thinking of you too. I say “he” but it can also mean she.
^^ Home with my beloved late pup Paris, when I was supposed to be on my honeymoon
My Broken Engagement Story:
The night he called off the wedding
After on and off again for two years and his cries to come begging and saying he was ready to get married. Even while engaged, there were a few moments when he would freakout, and he voiced hesitations without reason. And there we were again in that moment, me and him, him once again leaving me, like clock work, three weeks before the wedding.
Obviously deposits were nonrefundable. Time and emotions were nonrefundable – nothing was refundable at this point. After questioning why he came back at all claiming it was God who told him to marry me, he coldly stated he changed his mind and he believed marriage was a choice and responded with, “I unchoose you.”
At that very moment, I felt like my entire being died – if hearts could shatter into a million pieces, mine certainly did just that. I may have begged him to stay, to change his mind, I know I wanted to, but I don’t know if I actually did because I felt like it was a blur, like I almost blacked out. Those hurtful words were my reality as it set in and those words cut my heart into pieces. I knew what he said was permanent, and unchangeable, and I could and would never shake them from my mind. I wish I never heard it but at the same time, it was what I needed to hear to realize I had no choice in this decision and I had to move on.
“Unchoosing” me would haunt me for the rest of my life even if we did work out – so it was done.
That night, it was so fuzzy. I was trying to navigate my feelings of panic, anger, pain, yet trying to be coherent realizing these very last moments would be the last I’d ever spend with him. It was bittersweet, I wanted to savor it but I had such a broken heart and I also wanted to be strong and not be dramatic knowing that this is how he would remember these last moments with me. Very few words were exchanged from how he’d probably regret his decision for the rest of his life, to me asking him, why, to eventually him telling me, “I love you” as he walked out the door out of my life. I uttered, “I love you too,” and so very badly wish I hadn’t. I wish I said, “No, you don’t, this isn’t love,” but I didn’t, because I did love him and in those fleeting moments, sometimes you can’t help but speak your truth. Broken as I was, I hated him and loved him at the same time.
I fell into my best friend’s arms sobbing that night. She had come through the door at the tail end. I don’t know how I slept that night, but I did. Then another best friend came as I was passed along to the next to make sure I wasn’t alone. I couldn’t be alone.
I was lifeless for months after. A complete zombie trying to survive. I felt numb. I never wanted to be with anyone more in my entire life than him – for so many years, through all the on and off again drama. I cried so hard one night I gave myself a bloody nose. I screamed out loud from the pain in my heart that I was afraid my neighbors would call the cops thinking I was getting murdered. I dropped to almost 100 lbs. I’m 5’8″.
Every day felt like I was living a double life. I was physically at work when I should have been in Palm Springs for the wedding. I was at my friend’s apartment when I should have been walking down the aisle. I was home for Thanksgiving when I was planned to be in Fiji and so on – but once the calendar passed the planned days together – the day we’d return from the planned honeymoon (which he never booked), my life felt like it was mine again. But it took a village to get me there, to help me heal and forgive.
How to heal from a broken engagement
I never saw the Sex and the City movie, friends referred to it when I went though the dark time and when I did watch the movie later, I cried. When there is a scene of abandonment, it will make my eyes swell – because I know that feeling, so know that I know how you feel at this very moment.
Although I have moved on from the heartache, I still remembered it. To this day, I still can, but not to the same powerful extent as that actual moment, so I hope you find peace knowing that. Feeling it doesn’t mean I still care about it, but it’s trauma and trauma is a big deal. What I can tell you is, you will not continue to hurt like you do this very moment forever, I promise. You will be able to feel empathy for those going through it as I do and you are the reason I share my story in hopes to tell you as a friend, you will be OK. Your heart will heal, and you will move forward and you will absolutely, positively be happy again. Let me help you process these feelings and remind you there is hope.
When your wedding is called off, every day leading to those important days are confusing. You feel like you’re in a daze, denial. It doesn’t seem real, it’s humiliating, you feel abandoned. You might be experiencing the following thoughts or feelings and I want to give a little encouragement about it.
You feel disappointed in yourself
as if you made the wrong decision, and you should have seen it coming but you didn’t. The pain will literally bring you down to your knees. But you didn’t know a broken engagement was coming or else you would have never said yes. Don’t blame yourself or be embarrassed. This has nothing to do with you.
You feel like you are living a double life,
the wrong life. You would be or should be doing ____ but you’re not, you’re doing something you shouldn’t be doing solo. But life goes on, and the path you are going down will be beautiful you can’t even imagine but have faith. If I survived and found my happy ending, you will too.
I had to get real.
The burning words, “I unchoose you,” meant he had time to decide and move on sooner than I did. When I heard those words I thought, well then, I unchoose you back. And I had to teach my heart that love is a choice and that I had to detach my heart from that person. If someone has walked away from you then s/he has already moved on, and that is the reality to know that deposits, money, they would sacrifice all of that to not be with you – harsh. Fine, then if it’s time for you to be strong and move forward without them.
The mornings were the worst.
As John Mayer sings in Dreaming with a Broken Heart, “When you’re dreaming with a broken heart / The waking up is the hardest part / You roll outta bed and down on your knees / And for the moment you can hardly breathe…” I truly felt like I dreamt with a broken heart, I had changed my social media status to that exact line. I applauded myself when I got into bed that I had survived another day, and waking up in the morning was discouraging realizing I had to triumph through another full day – until one day, it didn’t feel like survival any longer and with each morning came new curiosities and hope. One day you will wake up excited for the possibilities.
The nights were lonesome.
At night silence sets in and thoughts can wander. However I would be on the phone or be with people until I was tired. Then I would journal. I would pray and I would read God’s word and his promises. And I would also pray for my ex and then give thanks for a day closer to healing. Always close the night with a thankful heart. Your heart may feel broken, but don’t go to bed angry, find your silver lining and say a prayer for yourself to heal.
I chose to be inspired by other married couples.
I always noticed when a man had a wedding ring – especially when I’d be sitting on a plane watching people find their seat. It was stem out of curiosity. I would see it and think, He made a commitment, he didn’t chicken out and change his mind. There are men who can commit. He decided he couldn’t live a day without his wife and married her, I want to find a man who will love me like that! I also became a wedding photographer six months later. I loved weddings and my heart found hope through witnessing couples on their day say forever – it encouraged me that one day, I would find it and my clients helped me heal by sharing their special day and moments with me.
Please remember it is far better that a man knows that he cannot marry you on this side of the wedding than after and he leaves.
While you can rightfully feel angry and sad, there is so much to be thankful for when a man can acknowledge that he cannot on this side of a wedding date, rather than change his mind later. You do not want to drag a man down the aisle. If you can find the silver lining in that, it may help with perspective – in time.
Also remember people are watching and your story, healing of hope, can bring comfort to others one day. I had four women reach out to me who went through breakups and wanted to know how I got through it. Coffee meetings, phone calls, prayers, it was an honor to share how I healed and how God helped me through it. And here I am today connecting with you in this post hoping that this post can bring you comfort and I am sending you a virtual hug. I hate that you are going through this heartbreak but I promise, you will survive and you will find your happy ending.
If you are struggling on how to answer questions about what happened, here’s a post I wrote about that. You can say as little or as much as you want, we are all different in how we express ourselves and ask for help.
Things to do to provide comfort + healing after the broken engagement
Book a massage(s).
Touch is healing. I almost cried when a massage started, my throat had a frog in it and tears nearly filled my eyes. A massage felt like a hug. I just needed to feel embraced, loved and the power of touch is truly healing. Get as many massages as you need.
Have a photoshoot.
I had booked a makeup artist who was also a talented photographer and since we had the deposit already paid he suggested we finished with a photoshoot instead. He wanted to lift my spirits and it really did. It made me feel beautiful and I had a new Facebook profile photo that made me feel gorgeous. Thank you Michael Franco. (Old photos, tiny brows haha)
Write it out.
I had a diary that I started to write in again – actually I wrote in it a lot during that relationship (so much drama and pain), and I continued to write, my writing turned from bashing the relationship to praising God and asking him to forgive and heal my heart and free me from the emotions I was feeling.
I wanted to heal the correct way, not the fastest way, so I sought biblical counseling to make sure I forgave correctly. Forgiveness is an ongoing process, but doing so releases so much anger and sadness. Put yourself first and seek counseling so you can be a better person and heal right for your future husband/wife and self. Don’t forget to forgive yourself.
Know what you believe in – do you believe God is in control? That He loves you and cares for you? Then trust that he allowed this to happen for a reason you will never know, or perhaps one day know. If you have faith then show the world, show all all of mankind the strength of your faith and get up and worship the Lord. If David can praise God after the death of his baby, you can get up and worship the Lord.
Get up and show up.
Two days later I had to co-host a baby shower. I did it. I got up and after I cried upon arrival, then I took a shower at my friends place and got dressed and put on a smile and celebrated her. I removed myself and put my situation outside of myself and put my friend first. It won’t take away the sadness but it will take your mind off your problems for a few minutes.
Think with your brain and not your heart.
Without getting into too many unnecessary personal details, find your strength – especially if legal documents are being mailed, threats are being made that may need to be used in court. Don’t immediately respond – take a day or two. Seek wisdom and counsel, and stand your ground. Be in control, pause before answering if at all, and think wisely with your head and not your emotions. If finances are involved, seek counsel and do not act compulsively.
Be kind to yourself.
So one person decided he didn’t want to marry you. I know you thought he was our everything, but his actions prove he is not. Let him go. Not all is loss, it’s just one man’s opinion that you aren’t a fit for him. Well if he decided you weren’t a fit for him, then he isn’t a fit for you! You will find there will be more suitors and may you find a man who cannot live a day without you – that’s the man you want to be with. Look at yourself in the mirror and know you are a treasure and have a lot to offer and don’t let any unkind thoughts enter your mind. You are a precious child of God. There is nothing wrong with you. One day you will meet someone who won’t want you to change one bit. (More on this later in the post, I have a very serious talk with you about reassuring you that there is NOTHING wrong with you).
Screw saving for that wedding. It’s done. Go shopping and buy the date clothes, the sunglasses, the jewelry – you spend it on yourself and worry about the rest later. Go on the vacation with your friends, you treat yourself! But don’t cut your hair, trust me – if you need change, get hair extensions instead. *wink*
Write a letter to your future husband.
I wrote a letter to my future husband when I was 21 and waiting to meet him. I almost gave that letter to the wrong person! I thankfully secured it and kept it. But I wrote an updated letter at age 27. If you haven’t written one yet, why not? Tell him how you are feeling and how excited you are to meet him and all the things you know about him. It will give you hope and remind yourself what you are looking for – the right person deserves that letter!
Immerse yourself into a hobby.
I turned my hobby of photography into a businesses. I poured my time and passion into this hobby which eventually became my full-time job. I wouldn’t be where I am without the heartbreak. You can use this energy of pain and put it toward a passion that will heal and inspire you! You can even serve others who are in need, a food bank, shelter, love on others, it will in return heal your heart.
Don’t avoid those “special” places.
Your table, that restaurant, that concert, those spots with memories – do not avoid them. GO again go back and do so immediately with your friends and make new memories. This way you can quickly move past that painful memory. Order that special appetizer, sing to that artist. Claim those spots as your own and eventually new memories will override the former ones. You will forget that you and so-and-so even had a favorite table or item on the menu.
Remember – The night that he broke up with you was the best night of your future husband’s life.
Don’t blame yourself for the broken engagement
It doesn’t mean enduring abuse or staying with someone who doesn’t love you as you deserve, or who doesn’t respect you – it’s about loving fully, knowing you gave it a go, and then realizing that if you do need to walk away, you can move ahead and learn to love what’s good for you.
And sometimes, when the fog clears we can look back and see that maybe that person, and that relationship wasn’t as perfect. Maybe there were flags, but maybe, someone higher up saw that you deserved better, you deserve to be loved as a child of God and treated better than you were being treated and He intervened.
Maybe, there is someone out there who is a better match. I bet there is.
If you are wondering how to answer questions about the breakup, I know the confusion and pain – read this post about how I think is best to approach answering these questions or telling your guests.
Don’t try to overthink or analyze what happened
I had to add this in because I know you are thinking what if you just didn’t fight, or didn’t say that, or only did more of this – maybe this could have all been prevented. I thought the same. I also thought this when I got in a car crash when I was 16, if only I had stopped to tie my shoe that wasn’t untied. Or if I went to the bathroom before I got in the car.
The reality is some things are out of our control. If you had to carefully watch what you said or how you expressed yourself, whether it was good or bad, or disagreed, or anything at all, it wouldn’t have mattered. It still would have been wrong or come to this point either now, or later. Because you see, this had nothing to do with YOU.
You should be free to be you, good bad, ups downs and trials should be worked on together. The thing is, whatever the problem may have been, that person left and that’s not your life partner. That’s not your team player you are looking for – marriage isn’t about perfect days it’s about all of the days, good, bad and living life together one day at a time as YOU are. Don’t hitch your wagon to one with a broken wheel, or doesn’t know where its steering.
Dating again after a broken engagement
I once cried after a date that went slightly wrong because I was still heartbroken. It took time to not cry after a date because I still desired to be with my ex, it’s always a desire to be in the last relationship you were in because you romanticize it – even if the relationship had its flaws. We often romanticize what it was during the good times, or what we wish it could have been.
My heart wasn’t healed yet, and I was tired so and so many dates just brought me pain. I also cried after a very short-lived relationship only because I was disappointed and didn’t want to date yet again (I never cried over him or missed that guy).
But you MUST get out there again. And remember, dating is fun! It really is, once you find the right person it’ll be so fun.
Hang out with guy friends for company, or go on a few dates but don’t make them your future husband. They are just to have conversation and practice again (don’t hook up, seriously) just go out and don’t have high expectations. Just get in practice again. Not everyone you go on a date with has to be your future husband but don’t waste time either – being in your own company is wonderful and it’s best to be alone than be tied down to someone not right for you. Do not waste time. Time solo is never wasted if you get to know yourself and love your own company.
Women tend to romanticize past relationships so be aware of that. Don’t think that broken relationship was great because if he left you, it wasn’t that great (see books below I recommend checking out). As time moved on, and realized what I thought was a dreamy relationship, was not in fact what it was. It made me more aware and also look forward to dating again – the unknown is so romantic!
I was once asked if I ever wished ________ (insert any guy I dated) was like my ex. If only my ex was __________ (that guy). It stumped me because there were many things I wish my ex was – honest, decisive, committed, a man of his word, kind, and loved me for me. So there was no way my ex could ever be anything but who he was – which meant I needed an entirely different person. Get what I’m saying?
You deserve to be with someone who wants to be with you!
Conclusion of Gratitude Post Broken Engagement + When I met my Husband
I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for that broken engagement, the harsh words of being told you’ve been unchosen, or the drama that continued even after all was said and done. Mourning isn’t something to be embarrassed about. Through loss and changes is how we change as people and the direction of our lives change, for the better.
Life is perfect, today with my friends and my husband I am the best version of me. I wouldn’t have become a photographer, or a blogger, I would not be living out my passions that have been encouraged by the people surround me, nor have experiences of traveling the world, or being here at this very moment connecting with you over this small sliver in my life that changed the course of my life – to where I am now.
I am so in love with the life I almost didn’t have.
For years I hated the broken engagement was part of my testimony, a permanent part of my written story of my life. I hated that, I really struggled. But my situation brought hope to others over the years and if you get to know me, I believe I exist to encourage. My friends saw me rise above the ashes (see below for a Phoenix rising out of the ashes article) and without this event happening, I wouldn’t know the strength of love my friends had for me, or the opportunities to share the good news of hope and healing that God brings. For years I had the story about how photography brought healing to me during that time in my life, on my blog’s “about me” page, even after I was married. I know that seemed weird, but it was still my story. Then eventually, the story stopped being a part of who I was, and I deleted it. Though it happened, it no longer shaped who I was because as the years that have passed, my husband, friends, family, travels and career, this life now became shaped by them. Maybe that’s why I felt like this is the perfect time to write about it. There is no shame in this chapter of your story – it’s a shift in your road, and it will shape you into who you are meant to be.
I hear from so many who are affected from broken hearts, called off weddings, broken engagements, end of serious relationships (just read the comments below this post) – about 2-5 a week. The reason I share this is because I don’t want you to feel alone. Even though you have a broken heart – you want a man to be fully committed and if he can’t, he can’t and he should say it before it’s too late. We all make mistakes and judgement mistakes, and sometimes that mistake when it’s being corrected, even if it hurts us, that decision can adjust our path to a much better direction. It doesn’t make it right, but a person who can’t love you for who you are for the rest of your life, is right for leaving now.
Finding our happy ending or knowing “why” will take time. I met Mr. Wonderful a year and a half later (and married 6 months after our first date – read how we met here). I remember watching him from the cabin in Sedona as our wedding photographer took his portraits before our first look. That moment will forever be in my mind, my heart burst out of my chest and my eyes filled with tears and I said to myself – This is the man, that’s him! This is who God had for you. This is your husband who can’t live a day without you who has showed up because he wants to be with you forever! God knew this day was coming! The love I had for him and the emotions I felt that moment as the snow fell, reminded me of God’s goodness and my faith trusting Him as I had moved forward from that dark time. The snow, the falling snow made me feel like God gave me that beautiful day, it was like he was throwing the confetti from the sky. No, I didn’t think about my ex that day. I was in in the moment in love, awe, feeling surrounded by love, and knew that God created that day, and that man for me. That wedding day was what was waiting for me on the other side of that broken heart.
My businesses took off and I prospered in so many ways with riches in friendship and creativity and freedom! It all worked out in the most perfect way – my husband is truly who I was meant to be with and searching for my entire life. Had I known he was waiting for me, along with this career, these friends, this church, and the life experiences I’ve had, I would hug myself and said there, there, right around the corner a better life and love awaits. Just be patient. And that’s what I’m saying to you – there, there, right around the corner a better life and love awaits. Just be patient.
Like my friend Kim told me, “That night that he broke up with you, was the best night of your future husband’s life.” Mine too.
And I truly believe that one day, you will believe it was yours too. Keep your head up and one day, write me back and tell me it all worked out like just like I said it would. xx
Broken Engagement Counseling + Support Group
I think counseling is a good way to forgive and move forward on your healing journey.
If you have a question, please feel free to leave a comment (your email will not be published) and I will respond. I appreciate hearing if this post has helped you. You can also follow me and DM me on Instagram (@dianaelizabeth_) Please be patient it might take me a few days to respond but I do respond.
If you want to share your story and get some feedback from others for support, consider joining the FB community. You must answer the question that pops up after you request.
I recently (fall of 2019) felt compelled to sit own and record a video where I talk to you for 30 minutes and so I updated this post with this video. I hope you just feel like this is a friend talking to you and encouraging you. Sending you a big big hug. You will get through this, a beautiful life awaits!
Recommended Reading for a Breakup
If you are looking to know Christ, Google “non-denominatinal Christian church” and find the one nearest you. It’s a basic, safe start.
So here are a few books and online articles –
- The Phoenix Process: Changing with Loss (free online article)
It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken: The Smart Girl’s Break-Up Buddy, $12 on Amazon
He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys, $9 on Amazon
- The Bully in Your Relationship: Stop Emotional Abuse and Get the Love You Deserve, $20 on Amazon
Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, $15 on Amazon (Have not read but see great reviews)
- All Along You Were Blooming, on Amazon.
Something my dad gave to me from church, click and drag it to your desktop to see it larger –
Broken heart breakup playlist on Spotify (it’s free)
At the end of the playlist it slows down and I hope you are reminded that the plans for your life are not forgotten, God knows what he has in store for you and it’s something better.
Also, please excuse one explicit song but it’s so good I can’t leave it out (“Thank you, Next”).
Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. – Psalm 126:5
This post has been updated rom it’s original publish date of March 6, 2018.
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