Self Love Reflection: Broken Engagement

Posted: September 4, 2011 at 10:00 am

This week’s Self-Love Reflections post comes from Emily. Join her as she shares her growth through a tough relationship decision and having to do what was right for her.

Hi FFF readers! I'm Emily and I (semi) blog over at Healthy Creature. I've been reading Tina's blog for almost a year now and I'm so thrilled to share my story today.

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I dated the same guy from my sophomore year in high school through my junior year in college. We were in youth group together, hung out a bunch of times, and then all of a sudden we just clicked and started dating. He was so good to me, took care of me, loved me, and immediately we were headed down the dating-then-marriage road. I knew early on I wanted to marry him, and never questioned it. I saw my life ahead of me...having kids and supporting him in his youth ministry and it made me happy.

Since I was a Spanish major, part of my plan was to study in Spain. I had visited in high school with my Spanish teacher, and my mom said that the second I hopped off the bus, my first words were, "I'm going back, mom." Return I did. I almost didn't because I just couldn't bear to be separated from my man, and the first week was the hardest. I was hit with awful homesickness...mostly for him, but also for my family, school, friends etc (naturally). He ended up making plans to come and visit during spring break in March. I was ecstatic and that helped me make it through the next few months.

While I had my "light at the end of the tunnel," I started to grow in ways I never expected as I adapted to living in a new country. I loved, loved living in Sevilla, and because I had so much distance between me and my life back home, I started to think about what I wanted and who I was. I knew he was visiting in a short bit, and hoped to talk to him about how I was feeling and that maybe I didn't want to follow the exact path we had laid out for our relationship anymore.

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March finally came, he and my sister visited and I was so happy. The second day he was there, he insisted we take a carriage ride through the city. When we entered at the Parque Maria Luisa, he turned to me, told me he would love me forever and asked if I would marry him. It was truly a perfect proposal, a beautiful ring, and perfect moment.

Why did I feel like I wanted to throw up? The truth is that when he proposed, my first thought was "Oh no." I had been thinking a lot, but had not completely worked everything out. He was going along with our original "plan" but in my gut, I knew it wasn't right for me anymore. I did say yes in the moment, and hoped it was just a really, really early onset of cold feet. He went home, and I spent the next few weeks caught up in the excitement of imminent wedding planning. A short while later, I re-read some of my journal entries I had written at the beginning of my stay and realized I did not have cold feet. I was just not ready to get married.

Shortly after arriving home, I told him I wasn't ready, and that was probably the worst night of my life. I felt horrible. He felt horrible and rejected. I started to question my decision, but as time passed, it became more clear that I was not ready for marriage at this stage in my life. It was not so clear to him, and I spent a good nine months experiencing a lot of anger and guilt from him. It was certainly warranted, I know that. But my decision was that I was not ready to be married and just wanted to wait, not that I didn't ever want to marry him, which I had made clear. Eventually, he came to the conclusion he might never be married, started seeing someone the next summer, and married her shortly after.

That was about 6 years ago. If I hadn't done what I did, I would not have acknowledged who I am and what I wanted out of life. I'm sure I would have been happy to an extent if everything had progressed as planned, but I realized that I also needed to find my own passions and stay true to the core of who I am.

I think about my life now and how it could be, and I know I made the right decision. Not once have I regretted or wished I hadn't broken off my engagement. I spent my teenage years and early twenties in his shadow and the self discovery I gained from the whole experience is priceless. I also believe that my decision was the stepping stone for the many changes and experiences I have had since then. It's certainly hard at times watching my friends get married, have children and see their lives evolve in a way mine won't until I enter that stage in my life.

However, one challenge I have set for myself comes from a Jim Elliot quote: Wherever you are, be all there. While I don't always do this perfectly, this reminder keeps me grounded and focused on where I am in my life and reminds me to enjoy this season and not worry about the past or anticipate the future to the point where I miss out on today.

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  • Have you encountered a defining moment/decision in your life similar to Emily’s? What was it?

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27 Comments to “Self Love Reflection: Broken Engagement”
  1. Heidi Nicole says:

    The first part of your story could have been my life! I started dating my husband as a sophomore in HS and continued to do so through college. The summer of my Junior year in college I went abroad to SKorea for two months. It changed my life. My husband (obviously, then boyfriend) proposed the night before I left for Korea and I said yes, all giddy for the ring on my finger. We had a history of taking things super slow (I’d helped pick on out that same ring almost two years earlier…) so I had plenty of time to really talk about how SKorea had changed me and everything worked out.

    However, I completely understand where you are coming from. Being abroad changes a person…for the better. You get a whole new perspective on the world and what your life can become. So, basically…like you already know…you did the right thing! Glad it has all worked out for you!

  2. Hasiba says:

    Such an inspiring story Emily! Certian situations often make us look at things in a whole new light!:) xoxo

  3. What an inspiring story! So glad that you were able to grow so much as a person from your experience.

    Also, we were TOTALLY in the same hotel for the Disney Princess race this year ;)

  4. What a strong and inspiring woman you are. I’m so glad that you followed your heart (and deep down he has to be glad too). It would have been so much harder if you had gotten married and you weren’t ready. Your time will come :) I love how you are just taking it a day at a time and enjoying life now. So inspiring :D

  5. deb newman says:

    Nice job Emily!
    Good for you for knowing yourself at such a young age and listening to your intuition :)

  6. Emily, this post has spoken to me so strongly. Your story speaks how God sees the big picture of our lives and has our best interests in mind. Thank you so much for sharing!

  7. Emily, your strength is amazing! I am actually guest posting for Tina next week and my story, while a different situation, is very similar to yours, so I know what you went through and how you felt!

    Thanks for sharing your story! :-)

  8. Christina says:

    Emily – That is a great example of following your true self! At the time it takes such courage and strength to make those decisions. Self-discovery is such a powerful process.
    All the best.

  9. I can definitely understand why that must have been really difficult for you. I admire your courage to do what was right for you.

  10. What an inspiring story! I can totally relate to what Emily felt after she made an incredibly hard decision. I recently ended a 3 year relationship and at times I still question whether I did the right thing. But I chose to follow my heart which was telling me it wasn’t “right” anymore.

    I love Emily’s emphasis on living in the present and not worrying about the past or what the future will bring! Life is too short and we should enjoy it!

  11. Hilary says:

    Wow…pretty gutsy…great story and thanks for sharing! I had a similar moment last summer…I was offered a teaching job that, on the outside, seemed like I should take, and took it because that was what everyone else was telling me to do. I knew I didn’t want it, was miserable for the entire summer, but then finally interviewed for something I did want and turned the other job down…2 WEEKS BEFORE SCHOOL STARTED! It was an emotional, crazy time, but I’ve never regretted it.

    • Emily says:

      That’s huge! I’m a teacher too and definitely understand the significance of getting that new job that made you happy. Hope it’s going well!

      • Hilary says:

        Thanks! It’s actually been a rollercoaster since taking that job and over the last school year, I ended up having several jobs!!! But like I said, I never looked back!

  12. Kelly says:

    I love that quote…Wherever you are, be all there. You are a strong woman and I was so proud of you while reading your story.

  13. That must have been so difficult for you. Thank you for sharing your story!! I think it’s awesome you had the strength to do what’s right for you rather than going along with the marriage because it’s what the plan said. Great quote too!

  14. Beautiful story! It must have been so difficult to do but I love that Emily followed her heart and gut and did what was right for her. So many times we ignore our heart and go with what our heads say we should be doing and suffer for it. I love hearing stories about people following those very important instincts.

  15. Wow, this was such an inspiring story! I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been, but I think it’s amazing that Emily was able to follow what was right for her.

  16. Jolene says:

    Wow. I was gripped reading this in that I truly believe everything happens for a reason and that was the best choice you ever made. My ex husband was the one that made the decision, but now? I Amal grateful he did because I am such a different person now, as is he, for the better. And I never would have met the true love of my life, who o met almost a year ago now. Great reflection and lovethe quote!

  17. Denise says:

    You are very strong to do what you did – realizing that life was not for you. It is great to be who you are supposed to be.

  18. What an amazing story – for a while in college, the Husband and I stopped dating. Actually for 18 months we stopped dating. I think it was the best thing we have ever done (besides get married of course) because it let us truly figure out who we were as individuals!

  19. Susan says:

    LOVED this post. I think so many of us women are stuck on this one path of getting married and having kids, we forget that maybe our path isn’t the straight line we expected it to be. I broke off a four year relationship a year and a half ago right before it led to my moving in with him. There were times when I asked myself if maybe I’d thrown away the “best I’d ever get.” But those moments were fleeting, and I still know in my gut that I’m happier today than I would have been if I’d stayed on that straight, narrow path. I don’t want a life that’s “good enough” I want one that’s the best it can be, with the best partner can find!

  20. Emily says:

    Thanks for the support, everyone. Blogging is always personal, but I’ve never been this personal (and on someone else’s blog-ha!), and am so glad to have shared with everyone :) Thanks, Tina!

  21. It’s so inspiring that you followed your heart. There’s nothing harder than breaking it off with someone that you still love. I think that women sometimes feel that marriage “should” come next, but life isn’t about “shoulds”! It was brave of you to take the more difficult route. If you think about it, you’re having a wild love affair with yourself!

  22. OMG, I just wrote about this very same thing on my blog on Thursday: http://fitnessfoodfulfilled.com/2011/09/01/the-hardest-thing-ive-ever-done/

    It’s so hard to break someone’s heart, especially when you’ve spent so many years loving them and putting their feelings before your own. I admire your decision and know from experience how difficult it was, but how you would do it again to get where you are today.

  23. WOW Emily. Thank you for sharing that story. It takes a truly strong person to admit that they are not ready to go along with “the plan.” When my husband proposed to me (I know, this totally takes the ending surprise out of the equation), I felt like we were rushing into things. I knew I wanted to be married and I knew that I wanted to marry him, but it still just didn’t feel ok. I, on the other hand, am a complete commitment-phobe so after a couple of months passed, I got used to the idea of being engaged and married and was totally happy. I, too, sometimes look back on my decision and know that it was the right one for me. We were young and we hadn’t dated that long, but now, 4 years later, I know that I made the right decision to dive in.

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