Exactly one month ago today, after calling off my wedding, I did the second scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life. In my weakest, darkest, most vulnerable moment, I bared my soul to thousands of strangers.
Why did I do it?
I did it because paralyzing anxiety about my wedding kept me up night after night. I scoured every corner of the Internet till the wee hours of the morning. I searched DESPERATELY for someone else in my position – to get some advice or just to feel less alone. ANYTHING to save me from my own mind and help me BREATHE again.
I found nothing.
Instead of assuming that there were plenty of women out there with premarital doubts, I assumed I was the only one. The shame I already felt got realer, bigger, darker. I avoided friends and family and was so tortured by anxiety and guilt that I couldn’t leave the house for weeks.
I got the ovaries to share my story in case there was ONE woman out there who was in my position and needed to hear that they weren’t alone.
But, to my surprise, there wasn’t one. There were thousands.
What was it like sharing your darkest moment with thousands of strangers?
Well, first of all, NOT sharing was painful too. I made a commitment to share my life – the good, the bad, and the ugly – with all of you. I promise to ALWAYS keep it real. I’ve talked about antidepressants, Botox, my breast reduction, and countless more of my most personal stories. So the months leading up to the blog post were tough for me. The decision to call of my wedding was the first traumatic life event I’ve been through since launching Brains over Blonde – and it was especially challenging to navigate since there was another person involved.
I REFUSE to be fake in any way – so while I was going through it, I tried to strike a balance of providing value while still being true to myself. If you look back on my posts and newsletters, you’ll see I was speaking authentically about this the whole time, I just wasn’t disclosing what I was talking about yet. I’m always going to be authentic, so I didn’t even want to post photos of me smiling because I was CONSTANTLY in tears. That’s why, after I shared my story, I went back and clarified a few posts….
I’ll never forget how I felt when I clicked “Publish” on the blog post, announcing to the world that my wedding was off. My heart was pounding OUT OF MY CHEST. I’ve never felt so vulnerable and exposed in my LIFE. I was afraid to look at my phone or laptop for hours. Some of the people closest to me didn’t understand my decision, so I was prepared for an even BIGGER backlash from strangers. “It’ll be worth it if this helps someone,” I kept telling myself.
A few hours after posting, I finally got the courage to open Instagram.
And ya, there were a couple nasty comments. One woman told me I made a “rash decision” in calling off my wedding, and would influence other women to do the same. (I assure you, this was not a rash decision.) Another said I was an “awful human being” and that T was “better off without me.” (Honestly, I hope he will be!)
But those nasty comments were drowned out by the thousands of messages of support, stories, and wisdom. Within minutes, I was in tears. But not the same kind I’d been drowning myself in for months. These were HAPPY tears – that came out of feeling connections with thousands of strangers who feel like friends.
I’ve shared a just a tiny fraction of these messages on my IG stories in hopes that they might help some of you. I’ve talked to women who have called off their weddings, ended serious relationships, and filed for divorce. Many of them are in the thick of it now. Some got the courage to do it after reading my post. These stories helped me feel less alone and see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I hope they did the same for some of you. (I’m still getting through the backlog of messages, so if I haven’t responded to you yet, it’s coming!)
I put myself out on the ledge, and you all caught me. I’m eternally grateful for that.
My life will forever be different after this
My life will forever be different after this, and that’s not just because of the fact that now anyone that Googles me knows I just called off my wedding (…which should make dating pretty interesting). This experience changed me on a much deeper level. It’s taught me about humanity, community, and asking for help.
Almost all of the women I coach struggle with asking for help. I teach them to ask, when to ask, and how to ask. I teach them that people WANT to give help (people love to feel valuable and knowledgeable).
Most of us don’t ask for help because we’re afraid of looking weak or incompetent. We don’t want to be “found out” as a fraud (hello Imposter Syndrome). We hate being a burden. We fear rejection. It’s uncomfortable feeling indebted to someone else. Trust me, I get it, because when it comes to asking for help, I’ll admit that I don’t always practice what I preach.
Ever since I was a kid, I prided myself on being FIERCELY independent. If you don’t believe me, ask my parents. (P.S. Mom & Dad, I’m sorry for being so difficult. I was a wild one. I’m sure my kids will pay it forward!) I suffered throughout my engagement and I didn’t ask for help. I barely spoke a WORD of it. I was afraid of being judged, of being wrong, of being found out as a fraud, of being a bad person, of breaking T’s trust and heart. I was convinced this was something I could resolve myself if I did enough research and self-reflection.
I avoided seeing people and ignored phone calls for fear of being found out. This was supposed to be the happiest time of my life, and I didn’t want to fake my feelings to the people I loved. The few times I DID express a hint of anxiety or doubt, I didn’t like the reaction I got. So I’d laugh it off and dismiss it as normal wedding jitters, and then find somewhere I could be totally alone (like the shower) and bawl my EYES out.
I realized I needed a mental break, so I just stopped planning my wedding altogether. My wedding planner couldn’t get ahold of me, let alone me parents and friends. Finally, on May 1st, my best friend in the world was worried enough that she essentially FORCED me to Facetime her.
Up until that point, I hadn’t told any family or friends what I was going through. I hadn’t told my own therapist yet. I was scared saying it out loud would make it real. I was too afraid to even write it down in my own private notes.
I can see now that not asking for help was a HUGE mistake
I can see now that not asking for help was a HUGE mistake. I was vulnerable, embarrassed, ashamed, and terrified. But asking for help doesn’t mean you’re weak, it means you’re STRONG. It takes self-awareness and COURAGE. Asking for help makes you stronger so you can move forward and grow. I could have saved myself SO MUCH PAIN if I had asked for help sooner.
Talking to Emily was the first step. Now, it was out there. I couldn’t take it back.
The next step was talking to T. To my family. I talked a lot to myself to make sure I wasn’t making the biggest mistake of all time. I had to tell my bridesmaids. Then we had to tell our hundreds of guests via the all-time hardest email I’ve ever written.
Not everyone understood my decision, but everyone was there for me in their own way. My loved ones were ready to support me with open arms, but I still wasn’t ready to accept help. I left the emails and texts unread, I screened phone calls, and spent lots of time alone. Then, sometimes, in moments of extreme panic and darkness, I’d call back spewing indecipherable words through hysterical tears.
Then, in the lowest of lows I’ve ever been, I decided to share my story with all of you, in hopes that it might help someone, anyone, listen to that little voice inside that we all have. It was TERRIFYING. I didn’t know what people would think or say. I didn’t know if people would even care.
I got the help I needed (but was too afraid to ask for)
But then, it happened. Thousands of messages started pouring in from all over the world. It was all the help I needed but was too afraid to ask for – flooding into my inbox all day every day. With every message, every video, every story, every bit of advice, I got a little bit stronger. I didn’t ask for help, but I got it. I had NO IDEA how badly I needed it. You helped me in ways it’s hard to describe with words. Thank you for your vulnerability and for trusting me with your stories. I’ve been literally transformed and uplifted by this incredible B/B community we’ve built together. I’m blown away and my heart is exploding with love.
You all taught me something I’ve always known but wasn’t living: that it’s ok to need help, and it’s ok to ask for it. That’s what friends, family, and communities like this one are HERE for.
Social media has so much more power when we’re real
This experience is also proof of something I’ve theorized and bet my entire business on: that social media creators can offer SO MUCH MORE than fashion and travel inspo. It’s not all about YSL bags and brunch. One of my goals is to bring the REALNESS to social media. Social media has SO MUCH POWER. Let’s do MORE with it!
I’m reiterating my commitment to you to ALWAYS bring the realness. I’m speaking to a specific breed of woman, and not everyone likes what I have to say. But it’s SO MUCH MORE important to me to be AUTHENTIC and true to myself and my mission than it is to be liked by everyone. The women I’m trying to reach immediately recognize that I’m speaking directly to them, and that’s ALL I care about.
The best part is that now I get to make a living being UNAPOLOGETICALLY MYSELF and doing what I love – empowering women and helping them navigate fearless lives. Faking it is exhausting, so BE YOU AND DO YOU. No one else can do it better. And when you need help, ASK FOR IT. What’s stopping you?
Update 8/15/18 on grief, loss, and making painful decisions: read the latest here.