This week I helped one of my tribe sisters, Sahara Rose, get engaged, by working behind the scenes with her boyfriend (and a dear friend I had ONLY MET ONCE but knew for over TEN YEARS through LIVEJOURNAL!!!!!!) to surprise her in Bali. Like, what is the world?!?!? It was a truly magical, fateful, unbelievable story (you should REALLY check it out: part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here). THE WORLD is beyond magical my friends, and this story proves it. I am incredibly happy for her, as Sahara deserves all the love, security and happiness in the World, her beau Steven is a badass and the proposal was E.P.I.C.
I am already preparing myself to smile and laugh and cry and ecstatic dance through the whole gorgeous wedding.
Because I was so excited for her, of course I shared about it on my Instagram stories. And well, most responses went something like this:
Well Meaning Acquaintance: OMG this is AMAZING!!! YOU’RE A GREAT FRIEND!! WHAT A STORY!!
Me: YESSSSSS!! THANK YOU!! SHES AMAZINGGG!!! One of my favorite ladies ever and how amazing is Steven?!
Well Meaning Acquaintance: NICE! YAY!! THEY’RE PERFECT FOR ONE ANOTHER! ALSO, I heard your new podcast together!
Speaking of which, how is your wedding planning going? Aren’t you engaged too?
Me: She deserves it and so much more. I am so excited for her!
And um, no. We broke up actually.
Well Meaning Acquaintance: OMG I am SO SORRY TO HEAR THAT! 🙁 🙁 🙁
Me: Yep, that’s okay. It’s totally cool. 🙂
Well Meaning Acquaintance: [changes subject awkwardly]
And I get it. I wouldn’t know what to say either. Do you ask super personal questions? Do you talk about something else.. or is that callous? Do you google it and hope they wrote about it openly on their blog? (I see you 🙂 ).
You saw the title of this article, so… why am I sharing this? As you guys know, I don’t normally talk about relationships or write too much about my personal life on my blog. The point of this blog is about helping YOU. It’s about leveling up in life. It’s about being our best selves. …Right?
Yes. This site is about all about our health, and if you think the closest relationships in your life are not affecting your health, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. The people you spend the most time and energy on (like say, the person you’re engaged to) absolutely end up affecting you to your core: from your mindset to your language to your energy. Mental health is JUST as important as physical health, since our minds and our bodies are connected in every way.
Now, I’ll tell you why…
It’s crazy, really. I never wanted to get married, and yet I’ve been engaged twice.
My first engagement was in high-school (this story is in my first book).
Most recently, I got engaged in 2016.
It was one of the most special moments of my life.
Also, it was weird.
I never grew up fantasizing about a wedding or being a wife or having children. I never picked out a dream wedding dress or looked at or even THOUGHT about rings. I had no clue what the different styles were (or that there WERE different styles of each. The first time someone said “mermaid cut” to me in reference to a wedding dress, I actually laughed, because I thought they were fucking with me).
I had spent literally zero hours wishing this into my existence. On top of that, we had never discussed marriage. We had mutually decided on a future that was based on love and trust and friendship, and we didn’t need a piece of paper to tell us that we loved each other.
So, to say that I was completely surprised, would be a huge understatement.
Here I was. Someone whom I loved very much was on one knee asking me, in the most romantic way I could think of, in my favorite place on earth, to spend the rest of their life with them.
Why on earth would I say no?
I was ecstatic about the proposal – it was sweet and perfect and confirmed to me that he really GOT me. I was so excited about our engagement that I started to embrace the idea of calling him my husband. After awhile, I was totally falling in love with the idea of being his wife.
We took in the news of our engagement to ourselves for a few days. Then I told family and close friends. Then I announced it on social media and this little blog of mine. My eco-friendly, conflict free, one of a kind ring was featured in Brides Magazine and soon other magazines and press outlets reached out to work together to share my big day. I had every reason in the world to be over the moon and eager to start prepping.
But as time went on, something strange unfolded.
I found myself super uninspired to actually plan our wedding. I couldn’t explain it: this was supposed to be the happiest time of my life, and yet much of the time when people would ask me about the wedding, it would become clear (to both them and me) that I had put absolutely no thought into it.
I’ll never forget when I met with Martha Stewart Weddings and they asked me, “What theme do you want for your most special day?”
I looked at them like they’d ask me what alien I wanted to clean for breakfast. Does. Not. Compute.
I justified it to myself.
“It’s hard to focus on the details of a wedding when we were both running our companies,” I told people, laughing. Which was true. It was also difficult to choose a playlist for my big day when I barely had time to turn on a playlist on a Monday and take a shower. But something larger was happening.
I stopped getting excited about it at all.
I changed the date twice. I avoided sending out announcements and then I avoided sending out invitations. I changed the year… three times. I went dress shopping alone because I didn’t want anyone to ask me any questions about my plans. I simply didn’t have any.
So, what happened? Well, let me answer some of the basic questions I get asked by some well-meaning people, which I hope can shed some light on the situation.
How long were we together?
Four years, engaged for two.
What did I do with the dress?
Thankfully, I never put any money down on a dress. I tried on dresses and I think I even found THE ONE, but because we were paying for everything ourselves, something told me to hold off. I’m glad I did.
What did I do about all the money we spent on the wedding?
It wasn’t really an issue. We spent a lot more time than money planning the wedding.
How did I tell people?
I called my family and told them the truth. They were amazing. Then I told a handful of close friends and let the word spread on its own (haha).
Why did it end?
When we met years ago, I was a (rather naïve) 20-something-year-old who was learning how life worked. I was still very much going through Rx withdrawal, and my intention was not to date. I didn’t feel like I was ready to be with someone and honestly, I felt gross all.the.time. But when he accepted and loved me – withdrawal that included me throwing up 5 times a day and all – I knew I had found my someone. And I couldn’t ignore it.
Overtime our life roles changed (as they naturally should/do/will) and I think both of us had to step up and figure out who we really were outside the context of the roles we’d assigned to one another in the beginning of the relationship.
It was, plain and simple, a communication breakdown. I mean, don’t get me wrong. We took hikes with each other every morning and evening. We both ran our businesses from home for years and somehow didn’t kill each other. Quite the opposite – we talked NON-stop all day long and were the best of friends. We enjoyed each other’s company. We laughed at each other’s jokes. We kept each other’s spirits up. We encouraged one another beyond belief. We talked through our shit.
Going furniture shopping for our ENTIRE house took us maaaaybe half an hour. We agreed on everything.
But as our businesses picked up, our communication declined. The second that we didn’t agree, all bets were off. Of course, this happened so infrequently that it became rather easy to ignore. But the less that one of us was listened to, the less we wanted to listen.
When this attitude goes one way, you’re in a tough spot.
When both parties do it, you’re screwed.
I’m sure either one of us could have begged and carried on and tried to save the relationship, and you better believe that we did a few times. But after awhile, I honestly don’t think either of us was that inspired to try to do that anymore.
When you know, you know, and I think that works both ways.
The sanctity of our relationship and specifically, of our engagement, is very important to me, and truthfully the details aren’t as important (or, IMHO, even as juicy) as the amazing life lessons. There is no one to blame for the end of our relationship. We were kind to one another always. We didn’t have a blowup. We didn’t fight. We didn’t scream or do something mean or hurt one another. I think we both just knew.
Some people just grow apart.
How did I deal?
First, I walked around my house crying about how I was possibly going to clean and clear everything out myself. I panicked about if I had enough money to carry on my life and all the bills that come with a four-bedroom house by myself. I totally freaked out about the idea of carrying all of the responsibilities that we had shared for years – all alone. I thought about moving out a LOT (it seemed much easier than re-arranging the entire house so that it didn’t remind me of him every second).
Then, I called my family. I read a lot of books. I reached out to girlfriends and then when they reached back out I often ignored them because I was afraid of crying. Then I just broke down and called them. Crying.
Some days I was fine. Most days in the beginning, I was a mess.
It wasn’t that I was moping or super depressed, but I was incredibly SAD. Life had completely changed overnight. I didn’t know where – or how — to start over.
I started at the beginning. I danced every morning. I painted. I sang and wrote songs. I laughed so hard with friends I cried and my belly hurt for days. I gave myself abs with pure, joyful belly laughs. I reached out for help… then I finally took it. I hired an assistant (who has – shoutout – saved my life)… and then I hired an intern. I hired a housecleaning service. I cried on the phone with literally anyone I got on the phone with because I couldn’t help it. I stopped apologizing. I traveled. A LOT. I went to about 12 different cities in a couple of weeks.
Then I realized I was running.
And I cried all over again.
I embraced my single-ness. It had been a long, long time
I realized, triumphantly, that this not only felt like grief: it WAS grief.
Then I felt true love. True love in the form of people who care, business associates who get it and a family who called me every single day to check in and make sure I was okay. Even his family called to check in with me a few times – and they still do. It really meant the world to me. This, I found myself thinking, is how it feels to break up as an adult.
I dove deep. I bought every single book anyone recommended me without hesitation – and new bookshelves to boot. I planned my book launch and my book tour for WILD Habits. I rearranged just about EVERYTHING in my house and I threw out everything (EVERY.THING) that reminded me of him. I worked on new products, blog posts and my third book. I booked a ticket to see my family. I made new friends. I went out of my way to embrace my girl tribe and found some incredible women to add to it.
I did things that were completely out of my comfort zone. I went out dancing. I went to my first sports game ever. I bought new furniture by myself for the first time in my life. I learned how nearly everything in my house worked. I went to the movies and I went to concerts. I flew halfway around the world. I hiked and swam my way to a private island. I went on dates with people who proved to me that all hope was not lost. I started working out twice a day, taking long baths, taking long walks and focusing on what’s important to me. I watched myself on TV and on stage in awe. I started processing the fact that, despite my pinnacle relationship just plain being over, I was still living my wildest dreams. My success, my lesson I had taught so many people for years, was not dependent on ANYONE but myself.
I embraced this whole heartedly.
I threw myself into my projects and my work. I went back to square one. I got back to my roots. I meditated until I could tell I was meditating TOO much. I wrote a LOT. I sang my heart out. I started playing piano again. I drew and journaled.
I embraced myself and my vulnerability as a strength, which has led to so many amazing life opportunities and made coping so, SO much easier. I watched my self-esteem, and my ability to deal with the world, grow every single day. I found myself again and the person I encountered was more beautiful than I ever imagined. I fell in love with her and I treated her the way I’d want her next partner to treat her. I became more independent, more kind and more vulnerable than I ever thought possible.
How am I coping?
Truthfully, I am doing well. It doesn’t hurt to think about anymore, which is a huge emotional step forward. And I would never go back to it, which is a huge personal step forward.
I am trying to be mindful of the fact that processing the end of four years of commitment and the end of how you pictured your future doesn’t happen overnight. I have been trying to be aware and determinative of what’s coping and what’s masking/running away/escaping. Of course, I’m young and I want to have fun. But I need to be mindful of also continuing to do the self-work necessary to really heal. So, life’s been a bit of trying to strike a balance between the two.
To accomplish this successfully, I have been practicing The WILD Method like crazy.
Well, I have the Willingness to accept that I need to grow from this. Every relationship in your life is a lesson, and so is how they end.
I’ve been using my Intuition to figure out my next steps at every turn. Even if I make plans, if my Intuition is screaming at me to stay home and take a bath, or go down to the beach and write, or make music, or simply lay in bed with my dogs when I’m feeling down, I do it.
I’ve been showing self-Love to myself every chance I get. I listen to my goodwill instincts and indulge in self-care no matter WHAT. While this is especially difficult while traveling, it’s been a wonderful lesson in practicing what I preach.
Finally, I’ve used the Discipline necessary to do these steps over and over and OVER again until I see growth in myself and the people I’m with ALWAYS reflect my values.
This will always be a work in progress… And guess what?
I’m okay with that. Because it’s been working. I’ve become grateful for all the lessons I learned from the relationship, and the more I work through it, the more answers are provided to me. I don’t regret a second of our relationship. We helped each other so much to become who we’re meant to be and I’ll always be grateful for that.
I am happy, truly. I see the place the relationship – AND the breakup – had in my life already, and I’m sure those insights will only continue to grow as I stay open to them.
What did I do with the ring?
He never asked for it back, so I kept it. Then I hid it from myself. Then I had dreams that I’d never find it again, so I scrambled to find it… annnnnnnnnnnddddd failed. And panicked and had more bad dreams. And thennnnnn!!!
My assistant found it – (I told you –she’s a life-saver!) Ever since she found it and me (and my subconscious!) know where it is, I honestly haven’t thought about it.
What did I learn?
I learned how not to settle. Could I have just ignored my Intuition and gone through with something just because I’d made the commitment to it? Absolutely. But I’m a lot happier because I did what was right for me: not what was comfortable.
I learned that when people show you who they are, believe them. That goes for yourself, too. When parts of yourself you don’t like show up during a relationship, that is a DIRECT reflection of that relationship, and to deny that is to deny yourself the life you deserve. Always listen to your intuition, especially if it’s nagging at you. Time truly does heal all wounds, as long as you work on your emotions and truly DEAL. A bandaid is only the last step: you need to disinfect and apply ointment and change the dressings on your wounds every single day, or they’ll never properly heal.
I learned that isolating yourself will only make you feel more stressed out. I have learned to accept help when I need it – no small feat for me. While this lesson is still very much a work in progress, it’s a larger message that I absolutely needed to learn: that it’s okay to be exhausted, frustrated, sad and confused. Just make sure you’re WILLING to start asking people who love you to help you pick up the pieces so you can FEEL properly.
I learned that I cannot do everything alone, but that doesn’t mean I need to be in a relationship to accept help. The most security comes from doing things you didn’t know you were capable of doing. I learned that the strongest relationships are from people who truly care about me, and those who show me they love me by helping me do things I can’t do by myself, noticing the things I’m too exhausted to do, picking up on my true needs (not what I THINK I need), giving me the drive of checking off my to-do list as well as reminding me when to relax. Real love comes from the people in your life who remind you how amazing and capable you truly are.
I learned to give myself a break when I need it. I’ve learned that doing nothing IS doing something. I’ve learned what I will accept in a partner and what I won’t. I’ve learned who I truly am outside the context of someone else. Something I am VERY glad I am given the opportunity to learn before I DO marry someone.
Truly, I am blessed. My basic needs are met and I have accomplished things beyond my wildest dreams – with and without a partner. I live in a beautiful home with my two-dog daughter’s, and it’s now mine to decorate how I want, live how I want and spend my time how I want. And while those may seem like little, superficial things, please trust me when I say that living in the ghost house of your last relationship for a few weeks cannot HELP but be detrimental to your mental health. It’s absolutely integral to your mental fitness to make a space your own after a relationship ends. I wish I had learned this a few weeks sooner. Every time a space or a corner looks different than it did before, you get your life back. I promise you.
I’ll continue to stay open, willing, intuitive and loving. I’ll keep myself disciplined and focused on my goals. I’ll do what I’ve always done: survive. And then thrive.
Now, I work harder. Now, I grow. When I’m met with a challenge, I think about it totally differently. Now, I bloom, I shed the old and I accept the new. I become more of myself in ways I never previously thought possible. Now? I move forward. I fall in love with myself more and more and more.
I know there will be a day where I won’t know who I would be without this experience. And I’m grateful for that day already. The truth is, I have a lot of hope. I know that while this was the end of something important, it’s also the beginning of something equally important…
The rest of my beautiful life.