2014 was by far one of the craziest years of my whole life. My dad passed away on May 12th, his funeral was in Chicago on May 23rd, I opened a salon in Las Vegas on June 10th and my sister got married in Wisconsin on June 14th. The chaos of so many life changing events in such a short time put pressure on my relationship. That July, I called off my wedding.

At that point, I’d been with my ex-fiancé for 6 years, engaged for one of them. Things had been great for the vast majority of our relationship. Looking back now, of course I can see signs that things weren’t ever going to work out, but while I was living it, I couldn’t have been happier. To this day some of my fondest memories come from that time in my life.

Our relationship started to get rocky in the last two years, but I thought we’d be able to work it out. Let me tell you, a death in the family, opening a business and a sibling’s wedding, all within less than two months, will put any relationship to the test. Ours failed, miserably.

I Changed

I was no longer the impressionable, submissive, go-with-the-flow 19-year-old girl I’d been when we met all those years ago. During our time together, I grew up. I developed my own opinions- strong ones. I learned what I liked and what I didn’t like, what I wanted and what I didn’t want, and what I was willing to put up with and what I wasn’t. For the first time in my life I realized that me alone- not me the future wife, not me the future mother, just me, was enough. I was confident and comfortable in my own skin. I had a voice and knew how to use it. One day, he told me he didn’t like the person I was becoming, the thing was, I really did.

He hadn’t changed much at all. As we got older he got a little more stubborn and partied less, but overall, he was the same person. It was me that changed. After five years of riding shotgun in our relationship, I decided that I wanted to drive the car.

Me changing was not his fault and probably came as a big surprise to him. But it wasn’t a bad thing either. I was growing and evolving. The problem was, we were not growing together.

It Wasn’t Easy But It Was My Only Choice

At first, I attempted to postpone the wedding, to give us time to figure things out, but that was not an option. I considered getting married and waiting a year to see if we could work things out. I figured if not, we could get divorced. (How ridiculous?! To state the obvious, if you’re planning a divorce deadline before the wedding, CALL IT OFF NOW.)

Trying to convince myself I was having “cold feet” didn’t work. I fought with myself, and with him, until calling off the wedding and ending our relationship was my only choice.

I had guilt for going back on my word. When I said yes to his proposal, nearly a year earlier, I had meant it with my whole heart. I loved him and didn’t want to leave him. However, I knew if I stayed, I’d never get the opportunity to express myself as the woman I was becoming.

I have no doubt that calling off my wedding was the right decision, but damn, that did not make it any easier.

The wedding date was only three months away when I called it off. We lost a ton of money and had to face a lot of awkward conversations. We had already put down a deposit on the venue and the DJ and I had bought a dress. Most embarrassing of all, I had already sent out save-the-dates. Several of our friends and family members had already purchased plane tickets and booked hotel rooms. As if un-planning a wedding wasn’t difficult enough, ending a six year relationship was even harder.

We had a home, cars, dogs, bills, bank accounts, photo albums, mutual friends and memories that all had to be severed. It was ugly and painful. I made every attempt to make it go smoothly and civilly but it did not. The material aspects and bills were sorted relatively quickly. The human and emotional elements, however, took months, even years, to finally settle into what they were always meant to be.

Getting to the Other Side 

Calling off my wedding was a huge, traumatic and life changing event. It required time and attention to process. Ryley (my Australian Shepherd) and I moved in with friends across town. Thank God for them and the rest of my loving support system. Without them everything would have been so much harder.

Business at the salon was booming, which gave me something constructive to focus on. But the first six weeks after calling off my wedding were rough at the salon. All day, every day, I had to have the same conversation when each one of my clients excitedly asked- “How’s wedding planning going!?” In the end, I was thankful for those conversations. The support I received from my clients was a valuable part of the healing process.

On My Own

After a few months with my friends, I moved into my own my place. I had a three bedroom townhouse all to myself. That townhouse became my sanctuary. Just like with the salon, my heart went into decorating it. I made smoothies and salads, blasted hip-hop music, painted, wrote, read and walked around with no pants on. People rarely came over and I liked it that way.

The healing process took work and was by no means linear. I met with a counselor a few times and spent countless hours reading and writing to analyze where I went wrong and how I could learn from my mistakes. I focused on staying active (mainly yoga and long walks in the desert with my dog) and eating healthier. There were moments when I felt like I had been given a new lease on life, and others when all I wanted to do was go back to my old life, my real life, and pretend like none of this had ever happened.

I’d been living on my own for about a year when I took my first solo backpacking trip to Europe. That trip was a game changer. It got me out of the bubble I’d created for myself and back into the world as a healthier, more courageous and more confident version of myself.

On the Other Side

Processing, healing and moving on from a broken engagement took work. It required asking myself difficult questions, admitting my faults, making necessary changes and accepting everything that happened for what it was.

One day, I cannot pinpoint when, I realized calling off my wedding was no longer something I was going through but something that had happened in my past. That’s when I knew I’d made it to the other side.