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Dear Newly Engaged Me: My Engagement Was Harder – and More Of An Education – Than I Expected

This is another installment in the wonderful Dear Newly Engaged Me series, written by a bride named Julia, who lives in Texas. These are all Julia’s words, completely unedited by me.

In the time leading up to my engagement, I was so ready to be engaged.

After 3 years of being friends, six months into our relationship, it was everything I had ever dreamed of; supportive, fun, adventurous and we wanted the same things out of life. I raved to all of my friends how I had finally found “the one” and after a year and 3 months… he popped the question.

Our proposal was very romantic and private. Rose petals and champagne, the perfect ring and speech, followed by meeting all of our friends and family the next day to celebrate. Cloud 9 was an understatement.

I’ll never forget how it hit me. Only three short days later, I was eating dinner with his family when his mom said, “So, I hear you are moving in together?” to which I excitedly said, “Yes!” and then to my surprise, my excitement was followed by sweaty palms, a hot flash and mild nausea over realizing “Oh my gosh, I have to move in with him…”

Then, “Oh my gosh wait… I agreed to be with him FOREVER??”

The weight of those thoughts consumed me, and I couldn’t finish my dinner that night.

The month that followed was full of questioning whether I was making the right decision and honestly sheer panic over the fact I was questioning this at all. I was supposed to feel 100% sure right?

This was totally NOT the “after engagement glow” I was expecting.

I loved this man and deep down I knew in my heart that I wanted to marry him, so why was I having a mini panic attack every time I thought about it?

I started researching and stumbled upon Allison’s book. At that time, I wasn’t sleeping at night so I stayed up all night reading it from beginning to end. The relief the book alone gave me and to know I wasn’t alone in how I was feeling was what I needed. I scheduled a zoom call with her the next day and basically cried as soon as she appeared on the screen.

Allison and I spent the next 15 months together.

The first 6 months of my engagement were tough. She walked with me through all my feelings.

Fear about whether I was making the “right” decision and what was to come in my married life.

Grief and sadness about leaving my precious apartment and leaving my single life behind.

The unexpected trials and tribulations that came with leaving my family for the new one that included my husband and navigating the changing relationship with my parents.

During our sessions, I was able to learn how to feel my feelings instead of running from them or saying “I shouldn’t feel that way”, a famous line I said for every feeling that wasn’t pure joy and excitement.

Allison also gave me tools to deal with the physical symptoms of my feelings too. She taught me breathing techniques and helped me reframe the way I thought about my feelings.

Eventually, I realized my fear and anxiety about my engagement didn’t have anything to do with my partner or our wedding. It was about me and my life that was changing and going in a direction it had never gone before. It was about the fact that both of my parents were divorced, and how badly I did not want to end up like them. It was about the fact that in other scenarios of my life outside of engagement and marriage, I had also run from my feelings and now I had to learn how to not be afraid of feeling emotions.

The skills that I gained from my time with Allison and that tumultuous stage of my engagement period are skills I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

After those first 6 months of letting myself feel sad and fearful, I began to feel better. I began to be okay with feeling anything I needed to feel and that allowed me to feel other things too. Like the first time I felt excitement when I met with our florist and saw our wedding colors come together or the butterflies in my stomach from excitement and fear when I received our invites and saw “Mr. & Mrs.” for the first time. The fear became a thrill, like before you do something adventurous!

During the last 3 months of our engagement, if you asked me how I expected to feel on our wedding day I would have said, “Scared but that’s okay… probably nervous… anxious… but happy and excited to get married”. I was content with this! This is what it really looks like to get married to someone forever! I continued to feel all my feelings as they came.

When I woke up the morning of our wedding, I was suspiciously…. calm? I happily had breakfast with my bridesmaids and my mom, who I had fought with my entire engagement, and I cried loving tears seeing each one of them get their hair and makeup done.

When it was my turn, I laughed and ooed and awed over my hair and makeup.

I cried as my mom helped me get into my dress and put on my shoes.

That morning I kept waiting for this feeling of nervousness or fear to hit me and it never did.

My favorite memory from that day was the ceremony. The same moment I had dreaded in the early months of my engagement. Standing there looking up at the church, I had such an overwhelming feeling of peace and happiness. Truly, I felt at home.

I walked back down the aisle to my soon to be husband and we tied the knot! I was absolutely amazed to feel calm on my wedding day! Calm was not at all what I expected to feel that day, but afterwards I was convinced that the reason you can’t imagine how you are going to feel on your wedding day is because the feeling is indescribable and unique to you! There is no right way to feel.

The rest of the day went smoothly, we danced and laughed and honestly I didn’t care.