Today would have been my 5th wedding anniversary, but I thank God that it’s not.

5 years and 3 months ago, I called off my wedding.

This might seem like an odd thing to bring up to my friends, family, acquaintances and random strangers on the internet, and it is.

But not because it doesn’t happen, it happens all the time. In fact, as I write this, in a coffee shop in Naperville, Illinois, the guy at the table next to me is spilling his own wedding-call-off story to a friend. No joke.

Bringing it up is odd because calling off a wedding is taboo. It’s not something people talk about after it’s all said and done. It gets swept under the rug and we hope, that by ignoring it, everyone will forget it ever happened.

When I first started contemplating calling off my wedding, I searched the internet looking for someone who’d been through it. I didn’t find much. I would have given anything to hear from someone five years out, to know they made it to the other side.

Which is exactly why I feel compelled to be the odd one who brings my story back up, five years later… 

To anyone searching the internet right now looking for a voice from the other side, someone to relate to, someone who understands what you are going through, this is for you…

It’s confusing and terrifying to walk away from the familiar, from someone you love, from someone you have a history with, from someone you’ve already said yes to.

But you know what’s more confusing and terrifying? Committing to forever with someone who isn’t right for you or getting married before you’re ready.

Fear of the unknown, history, guilt, and even love are not good enough reasons to marry the wrong person. And even the perfect person is not the right person if they won’t wait until you’re ready. Things change. People grow. And couples don’t always change and grow at the same rate or even in the same direction.

If you are thinking to yourself, like I was, How do I know if this person is right for me? How do I know if I’m ready?” ask yourself this: Who am I? If you don’t have a clear answer, you probably shouldn’t be getting married. If you don’t know yourself, you cannot know if someone is right for you or if you are ready to make a life long commitment. 

In the past 5 years I have taken the the time to get to know myself. I have done things that the girl I would have been, had I gotten married, could have only dreamt of doing…

I have lived alone, with friends, with my sister, and in dorm rooms with 20+ people. 

I read Walden by Henry David Thoreau, Roots by Alex Haley, The Bhagavad Gita and dozens of other life changing books.

I binge watched Sex and the City and Shameless, shamelessly.

I have kissed boys with accents on streets with names I cannot pronounce.

I have rekindled old friendships and walked away from others.

I have partied until the sun came up.

I have backpacked through Western Europe.

I walked away from a thriving business when it no longer served me.

I spent a week in Paris with my childhood girlfriends and took an American road trip with my mama.

I bought a one way ticket to Bangkok and traveled around Asia for almost a year, solo.

I attended a yoga teacher training course in India and a silent meditation course in my home state. 

I spent the last 6 months taking care of my newborn nephew.

I learn, I change, I grow, I move, I evolve, every second of my life, because this is my life, this is my journey, this is who I am.

Sometimes my mind wanders to an alternative universe where I did get married. I daydream that the girl in that universe is the real me. I am celebrating my 5th wedding anniversary today, with a kid or two, living in a cookie cutter Las Vegas suburb or rural Nevada. And the me from the real world, the nomadic, auntie-life rockin, social justice advocating, plant eating, story writing, short haired, history loving, spiritual being I have become, is just a dim lit dream inside my head.

But that’s not the case.

This isn’t a dream.

I am not a dream.

This is my real life.

This is the real me. 

This is who I am.

Awed by my journey, I thank God for the wisdom to see, I was headed down a path not meant for me. 

Photo: Wedding Dress Fitting, July 2014

If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me in the comments or email me directly at hello@melissaannmaida.com.