^^ Home with my beloved pup, when I was supposed to be on my honeymoon
I said a little prayer before starting off this post. I never intended to publicly share my story about my broken engagement, a wedding called off three weeks before the wedding. I especially didn’t think I’d feel compelled to write about it after watching the season finale of The Bachelor – a show I never watch and actually voiced how much I couldn’t handle “crying girls, and self-induced drama” – just ask any of my girlfriends.
But what if finally sharing it could heal? That’s all I want. That is the entire point of this post. And with my husband’s blessing and the encouragement of my friends, here we go as I share healing after a broken engagement.
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?
Maybe your wondering what you can do or say to a girlfriend who is going through a broken engagement. How do you help her?
The night he called off the wedding
It was October 30, I remember because the next night was Halloween. He came over and I had just come out of the shower, semi-wet hair, thick glasses on, and ready to finalize wedding plans which was three weeks away.
I walked down the stairs to meet him, and there he was. Then he said it. He couldn’t do it any longer.
After on and off again for two years and his cries to come begging and saying he was ready to get married, and a few hesitations even after proposing to me, there he was again, leaving me, again like clock work, three weeks out. 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 changed his mind and said he believed marriage was a choice and responded with, “I unchoose you.” And at that very moment, I felt like my entire being died – heart shattered to a million pieces and I blacked out. 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 reality set in and deep down those words sunk in – I knew what he said to me was permanent, unchangeable, I could never and would never shake them from my mind. “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. Very few words were exchanged from how he’d probably regret his decision for the rest of his life, to me asking him, then why, to eventually him telling me, “I love you” as he walked out the door out of my life.
I was lifeless for months after. A complete zombie trying to survive. I felt numb. I dropped to almost 100lbs. (I’m 5’8″). Every day after felt like I was living a double life. I was physically at work when I should have been in Palm Springs. I was at my friend’s apartment when I should have been walking down the aisle. I was home for Thanksgiving when I was supposed to be in Fiji. And so on – but once the calendar passed the the planned days together – the day we’d return from the honeymoon, 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
It’s unlike any other breakup on any level – you really did love that person you said yes you would marry them. You had dreams and had visions that lasted to the end of your days – there was a promise made they would be secure, a wedding was scheduled. There was a dress to wear, songs to be played and a honeymoon to discover.
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 feel disappointed in yourself as if you made the wrong decision, 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.
- You feel like you are living a double life, the wrong life. 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. It wasn’t easy especially since I pour my heart and soul into everything and every one, but I knew what I had to do.
- The mornings were the worst. I applauded myself when I got into bed that I 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.
- 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.
- 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, 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.
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.
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.
Here are the different ways I was able to heal after the broken engagement and things that provided me comfort after my wedding was called off:
- Get 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.
- 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.
- Seek counseling. 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.
- Seek God. 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. Seek wisdom, 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. 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 fit for you! You will find there will be more suitors and a husband 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.
- Go shopping. 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.
- 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 that 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 with your friends and make new memories – order that special appetizer, sing to that artist. Claim those spots as your own and eventually those memories will override the former ones.
Remember – That night that he broke up with you, was the best night of your future husband’s life.
How you can help a friend going through a broken engagement
I would have perished if not for my girlfriends. Your presence is so important during this time, you can help your friend to survive and your love and presence is a beautiful, wonderful, priceless gift that will assist with the healing process for your friend.
- Say something encouraging. I will never forget the words Kim said to me in her office. “That night that he broke up with you, was the best night of your future husband’s life.”
- Bring food. I went down to under 100lbs and I’m 5’8″ I just couldn’t eat, I couldn’t feel anything, not even hunger. I once heard my stomach scream at me as I sat at the dinner table and my heart broke. I couldn’t feel hunger, just heart pains. Drop off groceries, make sure she eats, drop off meals, or just sit with her and make sure she eats. Jackie came and grocery shopped for me from what she remembered I had in my fridge. Roxanne dropped off a smoothie at my door. Michelle filled my freezer with ready made food she prepared.
- Keep her busy. Never let your girlfriends be by themselves too long. She’ll over think and get sad. Invite her over for a movie, talk to her on the phone (not just text!) and even ask her to run errands with you. Your company is what she needs.
- Give her self-help books – or devotionals. Devotionals are great, especially if she is spiritual, then a dedicated one will help. So will typical self-help books or workbooks. Jackie went to the bookstore and bought a lot of hardcovers about relationships and highlighted them – the parts I needed to read, not the entire book – she read them for me! Share your favorite parts, highlights, used books are fine if they helped you. They can also be books that help her escape reality. I once got lost in the Twilight series.
- Check in with her, every few hours, every single day and be obsessive about it. Don’t just text. Call. Force yourself upon her too. Show up, tell her you are coming over. Ask her what she is doing. Never let her spend any holiday or important day by herself not even Valentine’s Day.
- Drop off presents at her door.
- Take her out to lunch. To talk, to not talk. No, to talk. To be with her and to just be present.
- Spend the night with her on the important days so she’s not alone. The big day that should have been, the honeymoon day, the whatever day of importance. Spend the night.
- Pray for her. With her, and when you aren’t with her. Tell her you are praying for her even when months or years pass she may look like she’s move on but she could still be hurting, or sad.
- Step in. If she has obligations it might be best to help her complete them. I was maid of honor and a fellow bridesmaid helped run most of the events because I was in a daze dealing with continued drama and it was so helpful for her to know I was in a strange space in my mind. She wasn’t even a friend of mine but stepped in to help celebrate our friend, I was so grateful.
The power of friendships
I had a bridal shower, we were just weeks away. At that shower when we were celebrating (this was about a week or two before he called off the wedding) my mother flew in from California and met my girlfriends. She told them she worried about me being in another state butapsfter meeting my friends she realized I was going to be OK and well taken care of. She was right – because they were there a few weeks later picking up the pieces.
Meagan came over that night actually crossing paths with him before he left for good. Jennifer took over and supervised me the next afternoon to next day cleaning my room and I stayed the night with her. I called Sommer the next night one I realized it was really happening to share the news to the other girls, she was the strongest one to repeat the news 7 times to our group of girlfriends. I fell asleep to Nicole talking to me as I took a sleeping pill to numb my mind and drift off to sleep. My little sis Ariel drove up to see me and spend the night with me until Jackie could drive out from California to spend the week with me filling my fridge, buying books and reading them for me and highlighting only the parts I needed to read. Rachelle stayed the night with me, the night before the big day and I went to church that Sunday morning to worship and spent “that day” with my girlfriends Brenna, Nicole, Sommer, Jennifer, and Rachelle together making THAT day, OUR day.
^^ Dropped off at my doorstep
I ended the “would have been night” with girlfriends Jennifer, Meagan, Michelle and Jen who prayed with me. I prayed for myself, and my ex, then I got into bed and spent the rest of the night praising God and writing my future husband an updated letter, a, phew, that was close letter but I know you’re out there.
In between there were friendly visits, Laura sent me a necklace for strength, cards of encouragement came in from high school friends, groups of girls from bible studies praying for me, encouraged me and together, all these wonderful women ones I didn’t name, close and far – they all helped me heal.
^^ During the next few weeks before the wedding and on the day – movies, pizza day and my birthday
I list these things which seem so crazy that I would remember after all this time – but it was impactful – not the broken engagement – it was the impact of my girlfriends stepping in like the sisters they are to me that are engrained in my heart. That’s what stands out above this entire situation. That situation occurred and the result were my friends who reacted in the most beautiful, wonderful loving way. They told me their hearts were broken and they felt like they all went through it – ask any of them and they would tell you how they hurt too, such true friends.
I am here to tell you that my heart hurts for you and even if you don’t have these friends to help you on your journey to healing, you have a God who is listening. Who cares for you, loves you, and wants a relationship with you.
Dating again after a broken engagement
I didn’t date again for about six months until I was set up. I once cried after a date that went slightly wrong but also just still heartbroken. It took time to not cry after a date because I still desired to be with my ex, my heart wasn’t healed yet and so everyone else just brought me pain. I also cried after a very short-lived relationship only because I was bummed and tired of dating and didn’t want to date yet again (I never cried over him or missed that guy).
Dating again was difficult in the beginning. When you were so close to getting married, you looked forward to the lifestyle of settling down, and nights on the couch watching movies and making dinner. I get it – now you have to get out there again. But you MUST get out there again. 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.
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!
I would suggest allowing yourself time to heal, but go on dates. Yes it can be annoying because you want to get to that comfortable settle down level because you were so close, but I promise when it’s the right person, it’s fun, it’s like being with your best friend. You will find someone who will make you laugh and fall in love again. So get out there when you feel ready but give yourself grace if you come back with a broken heart, totally normal. One day, you will come back from a first date and be excited!
Conclusion of Gratitude Post Broken Engagement
I am so grateful for what happened. At the time it felt like my world was crashing down but over the months, I healed. Forgiveness took time, for things that were done over time and I had to forgive when it wasn’t asked (I never spoke to him again, he never said he was sorry). That was difficult, you expect kindness or communication when you spend that much time with someone or thought they once loved you – but you don’t always get what you think you deserve. As the months rolled on I laughed again, had the time of my life and was me again.
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. 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 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.
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 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 feel like this is the perfect time to write about it.
I have heard 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). What I want to tell you is 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 meeting). 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 your husband who can’t live a day without you who showed up and wants it to be forever! The love I had for him and the emotions I felt that moment reminded me of how God knew this day was coming all along – and the snow, the falling snow made me feel like God gave me that beautiful day. No, I didn’t think about my ex that day. I was in complete love, awe, and knew that God created that day, that man for me and my heart was full.
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 and 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 hugged myself and said there, there, right around the corner a better life and love awaits. Just be patient.
And 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 know that one day, you will believe it was yours too. xx
If you need to talk to someone, or just need someone to pray for you, I would love to, I am listening, please feel free to leave a comment (your email will not be published) and I will respond, an email should land in your inbox when I respond. Or you can email me diana(at)dianaelizabeth.com. xx
You can read these comments below and my responses and know that you are not alone. You are never alone.
I have received emails and comments about emotionally abusive relationships and so I am listing a few books below that pertain to that and also breakup books. While I believe the Bible is the best resource to heal and tell you about God’s promises and love for you and the plans he has for you, I have read these books at different times in my life and know that sometimes when you hear a friend share very straight forward kick in the pants advice, that can also help with healing.
If you are looking to know Christ, Google “non-denominatinal Christian church” and find the one nearest you. It’s a great start.
So here are a few books –
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)