This is going to be a really personal, painful post, and I’m sorry for that. As I’ve mentioned before, I try to keep the tone of Pressed Words light, but sometimes my heart needs an audience, and so I would ask for an open, loving ear.
Two nights ago, B called off our wedding. I still can’t believe I just wrote that. I am still in absolute shock. I am also embarrassed, ashamed, devastated, angry, resentful, strong, positive, courageous, and sad.
I’m writing this because I know people will have questions, and I would prefer to be open and honest about the situation, and maybe even helpful if you find yourself in a similar position.
Let me give you the back-story. . . . B and I got together very soon after ending other relationships. And with us, things moved fast. We fell in love and were together for six months when he got a job in Amsterdam. He asked me to come with him, and I said yes. We were here for a year and a half, and then he proposed. We had wanted to get married the following summer, but to save up and give people enough time to book travel (as we have family and friends all over the world) we decided to wait two summers. In that time, things were wonderful. We planned a wedding, traveled the world, advanced our careers, and enjoyed each other’s company. But about 10 months ago, things started feeling strange. We started disagreeing on big things we had always agreed on before. Kids. Money. Where we would live in the world, what we would do next.
I got scared, and my solution was to move, to start fresh. Escape our friends and our jobs and re-establish who we were and what we wanted together. But Ben got scared and froze.
So to mix things up, I got a new job and we stayed in Amsterdam. As you might expect, our issues stayed as well. But instead of talking about the big things we felt we couldn’t solve, we started arguing over the little things. We had never really fought before, so this was strange. Typically we agreed on everything, from what we were craving for breakfast, to where we wanted to go on holiday. But little arguments started bubbling up. There was that time Ben got mad when I put a thumb tack in the wall. And the time I got upset when Ben ripped my washcloth, trying to adjust a stubborn shower knob. I could probably count the arguments on my toes and fingers, but it wasn’t the frequency of the arguments, it was the topics. They were all so petty, and so pointless.
It was clear we were out of the honeymoon phase of our relationship, and had some small, and some major, disagreements. We went home to visit my family over the holidays, and had difficult, honest conversations. Do we end it now? Do we stay together? Do we continue to work this out? Do we feel things can get better? We had a lovely time together over vacation. And the little arguments stopped. We saw family, and friends, and had some clarity away from work and Amsterdam life. So we decided to stay together, to embrace each other, our plans, and make things work. But we never solved those big issues, we just felt happy again because we were enjoying each other’s company.
So now it’s the beginning of May, two months before our scheduled wedding, and Ben starts to break down. He’s sad. He’s depressed. He’s confused. He has a ball in his chest and he doesn’t know what’s causing this feeling. He asks if we can go to therapy, and I reply ‘of course’. But I need to know; is it to make our relationship better, or to decide whether or not we should have a relationship. He replies, ‘to make it better’, so I agree to go.
We go to therapy twice. It helps, and it becomes clear that the wedding is a huge contributor to the stress in Ben’s life. So now we need to make a decision. The wedding is a month away.
We both write the best-case scenario and worst-case scenario down, and read them to each other.
Calling the engagement off? Getting married? Canceling the wedding?
I have hope, but Ben feels that to truly understand who he is, why he is experiencing this sadness in his life, he needs to be alone. So after an hour of sitting in silence together, waiting for Ben to make a decision, he tells me it’s off, and he leaves the house.
So yesterday was pretty much the worst day of my life.
I still can’t even remotely begin to get my head around not being with Ben. I think of all the adventures we’ve had together, the places we have been, the things we have seen. And those are the memories I want to tell my children about. The photos with Ben are the ones I want to hang on my wall. I truly feel like he is this piece of me, and that losing him is like losing an arm. I am having phantom pains, unable to believe he’s no longer there. I keep forgetting, and remembering. And forgetting, and remembering. And god, does it hurt.
So what does it feel like to call off a wedding?
My parents gifted us with money for the wedding, and we have spent it all. And we will not get it back.
Friends and family received invitations a month ago. We now have to call all of them, all 100 of them, and tell them that we are no longer getting married. Half of those people are from Europe, and have very expensive plane tickets booked. I feel so ashamed and sorry.
I dreamt about this wedding, and now I cannot imagine ever, ever doing this again. The planning, the excitement. The happiness. The thought of putting on a white dress makes me feel sick to my stomach. All I ever wanted was to celebrate this day with my family, and Ben. The thought of inviting my family to another wedding, should I ever find another partner, is also completely mortifying. The things people will say, or silently think. . . I am so embarrassed, and sad to let go of this dream.
Fact: The 5th of July will probably be the second worst day of my life.
And who knows, maybe tomorrow will be the worst day of my life. All I can really do is break this horrible, sad thing that is happening down into little bit-size pieces. I am not getting married. OK. Ben is gone. OK. The future is going to be really, really different than I had imagined. OK. I can only comprehend this scenario if I compartmentalize, because if I try to digest it all at once, I begin to choke.
The only good news is that I am OK. Ben might be sad, and confused, and depressed. But despite feeling humiliated and heart-broken, I am OK. I know who I am. I am confident. I know what makes me happy.
So I will still pedal my way to work, and listen to music. I will still do a damn fine job in the office. I will bike home in the rain, and cry. I will buy flowers and read books and drink tea, and I will recover. I will hug friends and cook meals, and sometimes I might not be able to eat them, but I will be grateful for the food on my plate, and the opportunity to live in this city, and see the world. And who knows, maybe I will book a solo trip, to clear my head and embrace life.
There are some big decisions ahead to be made. Is Ben still a part of my life? Can I forgive him for this? Does happiness mean moving on?
The truth is, I really don’t know. I’ve never done this before. And I have to figure it out.
I may feel horrible, and ripped apart. But I have hope.
I know it will be OK. Maybe not for a long time. But it will. I might not have the wedding of my dreams, or the guy of my dreams, but I still have my dreams.
And the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who has left a positive or thoughtful comment on this post. I still don’t have the courage to reply to everyone individually, but I have read every single note (here, on Facebook, and via e-mail). Each one gives me hope and strength. So thank you.