My uncertainty compounded over a few months of rumination and eventually grew into dread and paralysis.
I thought that the feelings I was experiencing could ONLY mean that the marriage was not supposed to happen.
From "fetal position" to the happiest wedding day: One bride's very successful bridal counseling experience
Here's the very successful story of Erin, a 27-year-old bride-to-be, who I helped get married this summer.
Do you see yourself in her story?
Before meeting with Allison, I felt terrified, isolated, and confused.
I was so scared that what I was feeling wasn't "normal."
Scared that seeing Allison meant I had somehow failed at being a bride-to-be.
Scared that I was making the wrong decision in choosing to marry my fiancé.
"Eight months before my wedding, I completely freaked out."
"Whenever anyone mentioned the wedding or my fiancé, my throat tightened. I'd get short of breath. My heart raced. I was scared.
Four months earlier, I happily said "yes!" to a wonderful man who understood me inside and out and was perfect on paper.
Before getting engaged, I loved my relationship.
I loved him, felt lucky to be with him, and that we had such a special and magical relationship.
Now, I was no longer attracted to my fiance. I was questioning the whole relationship.
Educate yourself about what's normal -- but not talked about
Your engagement will be a wild ride, emotionally.
You will be exhausted, emotionally, early on. Be nice to yourself, take a step back, don’t think about the wedding for a while. Take a break, you will need it.
Read and re-read Allison’s book, Emotionally Engaged: A Bride's Guide to Surviving the "Happiest" Time of Your Life again and again and watch the Happy Bride's Secret Toolkit videos. Educate yourself on what's normal for brides-to-be to feel, but not talked about.
Let go of any expectations you may have. You won’t be able to anticipate what happens next.
Four friends, four different outcomes
Lucky for Pauline, Gina was the type of person who put her feelings on the table.
“I’m so happy for you, Pauline,” Gina volunteered just fays after Pauline got engaged. "And I hope it’s okay to tell you this, but watching you find Mr. Right just makes me worry about myself, you know?”
With Gina, Pauline had it easy, because Gina was able to separate her own feelings into two categories: sad for herself, and happy for Pauline.
Gina didn’t shy away from her feelings of sadness; she didn’t push the sadness away because it was real for her.
And voicing her sadness – expressing and sharing it with Pauline—was essential because it made their interactions real and honest.
Both Gina, and Pauline knew where the other stood, how the other felt, and how the other valued the friendship.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below, and stay tuned for next week’s installment of ‘Book to Blog’ – Chapter 7!
A brief note from Allison:
I'm excited to launch this new series -- Dear Newly Engaged Me, written by brides themselves -- about their own experiences of being engaged. These are intimate, personal portraits, and most brides ask to remain anonymous. If you'd like to contribute, email me!
Thanks to Dear Me: A Letter to My 16-Year-Old Self for the inspiration. Please check out this wonderful site and book.
This first Dear Newly Engaged Me is written by a 31-year-old bride. We worked together via Skype weekly for four months leading up to her wedding.
Dear Newly Engaged Me:
I'm getting married in eight days. I feel good -- great, in fact. Excited. Happy. Certain. And very, very busy with last-minute details.
But it wasn't always that way for me during this 18 months of being engaged. Not by a long shot.
It's OK to think he isn't "The One"
Last November,Ashley found me by Googling "cold feet about getting married."
She often tells me that she sobbed when she read my website -- that finally, someone understood what she was going through.
We met on Skype the next day, and she sobbed basically through the entire free 15-minute consultation.
And so began our 6-month journey of bridal counseling
Most brides contact me because they often feel overwhelmed by a complex mix of emotions.
They feel overrun at times by extreme happiness that they are marrying this great guy.
At the same time, they're also stressed, sad, anxious, fearful, and confused.
Feeling this way can be disorienting and disturbing.
And definitely not what you expected to feel during your engagement.
Emotional overwhelm is a common state for some brides
One reason your wedding is called your "big day" is because of the supersized emotions you'll probably feel.
The flood of love for your brand-new husband. The joy of being surrounded by your nearest and dearest. The stress of pulling off this big event. The twinge of sadness coupled with excitement as you walk down the aisle. The lighthearted fun and wildness when it's finally time to party. So much going on all at once!
Here are 7 tips that can help you:
Keep these in mind, and you won't have to watch your wedding day on video when you return from your honeymoon just to remember what happened. You'll be fully present.
7 tips for how to be a calm bride on your wedding day
As a bride in the process of making the huge psychological transition from single woman to married woman, you have a lot going on, emotionally.
Having someone in your life to help you reflect upon and explore your feelings will be really helpful for you.
You need a compassionate ear.
Talking through your contradictory feelings of joy, excitement, sadness, and fear with a trusted friend or family member will help you gain deeper insight into your emotions.
It feels safer, too: exploring difficult emotions is less frightening in the presence of an understanding listener.
Choosing the right person is key.
Select someone who is non-judgmental and patient, a person who can understand that you can be happy AND sad AND scared, all at the same time.
Your confidante's job is to help you explore your feelings and gain insight into why you might be feeling this way.
Their job is NOT to "solve" your problems, "fix" your feelings, or tell you that "you should be happy."
(If you hear that, move on to another friend and try to accept that some people can't handle the emotional complexity of this "happy" time of your life.")
Don't ask your fiance.
Your first instinct may be to have him play this role for you. But he may not be the most objective sounding board in this situation.
Your roller coaster-like emotions may unnerve and upset him, causing him to react (or worse, overreact) to your normal and natural -- yet unsettling -- feelings.
You don't want to keep secrets from him, but you may want to put off sharing your deepest, darkest, rawest thoughts until after you've processed them.
Saying something like, "Just in case you've been feeling my distance recently, I want to share what I've been going through. Don't worry: it has nothing to do with you or us or the wedding. I've just been feeling sad about growing up and leaving my family. Can I tell you more about it?"
This will keep the lines of communication open between you without threatening the relationship.
If you can't find a compassionate ear, seek out a therapist or mental-health worker. Listening -- without judging or fixing -- is what we're trained to do. It will be money well spent.
Your homework: Identify the Compassionate Ears in your life, and make a date to see one of them. Get a real conversation going between you about what's REALLY going on for you. You'll be amazed how unburdened you feel after just one cup of coffee or glass of wine together.
Having trouble identifying your Compassionate Ears?