Monday, September 21, 2009

Strength in a Broken Engagement

This past Saturday afternoon, when I shared my personal journal entry from the day after the breaking of the engagement, I don’t know exactly what I was expecting. I wanted to share my heart and my healing with my readership for many reasons- but many because I’m selfish.  And I like to write. And I like to share. And I’m finding it all very therapeutic. And I’ve been trying to live with a “No Apologies” outlook as of late [something I’m sure you are all just sitting on the edge of your seats wanting to hear more about… in time, dear readers.]

I’ve asked myself several questions regarding that journal entry in the last few days.  What problems did it solve to post that? What was I thinking would happen? What problems could be in store for me now that I went and made myself vulnerable, even more so, spilling my heart to anyone that cares to read it?  What did expect that last post would do for my heart, for my healing?  What did I expect I would feel afterwards? Like this? 

What I did NOT expect was the 17 very sweet emails from readers, some of whom I know personally, others whom I’ve never met or exchanged words with before.  Believe me when I say I do not blog to beg for sympathy.  And this forum has nothing to do with establishing a former-fiancé-bashing “team heather”, or you-can-do-it “team heather”, or my need for constant praise and attention.

But they came in, one by one by one by one- until I had 17 emails in which to respond.

The reason I share this with you is not so that you can see how cool and popular I have become- it’s to get to this point, here:

I think I have you all fooled.

Strong.  Everyone keeps saying I’m strong. And how amazed they are by strength through all this.  After careful consideration, I thought it may be time to let you all in on a little secret.

I’m not that strong. 

Admittedly, I myself am also a bit amazed at how I’ve been able to “hold my head up high” and put my energy towards something OTHER than depression and loneliness.  But it’s not second nature. And it’s often not even third nature.  It’s a struggle and it’s a choice. 

Some days I want to face life head on.  Run a marathon, talk to strangers, change the world.  Others, I want to sleep. I want to sleep all day long. 

Yesterday, I didn’t leave my apartment. At all. I locked my door before bed on Saturday night and I didn’t unlock it until I left for work this morning.  I spent the first 6 hours I was awake with Vinne Chase and his entourage.  I watched the entire season 5 DVD set. Beginning to end.  I didn’t care about my 3 miles scheduled for my training program. I didn’t care about sunshine, or fresh air, or a warm breeze.  I didn’t care about playing with puppies at The Pet Company.  I only cared about whether or not Ari was going to take the studio head job, the return of Sloan, and the blossoming romance between Jamie Lynn and Turtle. Some days I would rather face the ups and downs of HBO characters than of my own. 

The range of emotions doesn’t stop there.  It’s not just an extrovert/introvert struggle on my bad days.  And this isn’t a new development. It’s happened since day one of broken engagement.

“The wedding is cancelled” postcards were sent out on the same day that most people were receiving their invitations.  I can imagine a bit of confusion setting in the minds of family and friends as they received their mail that day.  I can now estimate the time-in-transit for a postcard sent from Denton, TX to a variety of locations.  Because with each regional section receiving their postcards, I received a wave of correspondence. 

In four days times, I received a total of 37 facebook messages with “wedding” in the subject line, and a few more messages with disguised subject titles, but which were clearly in regards to the postcard.  I received several emails on both of my email accounts; I dodged 13 phone calls and left 22 text messages unread. 

The Berlin Wall of relationship discussion came crumbling down four days later.  But it wasn’t freeing, and it wasn’t noble. It was ugly.

I reconnected with the world wide web.
I went on facebook.

I went on twitter. (to my best friend Danielle’s suggestion, I had taken a brief twitter-break to avoid bitter tweeting that I would later regret.)

I logged in to my gmail.
I started responding.

In most cases, I would respond with something simple, generic, and honest.
“Thank you for your kindness.  I’m not ready to talk yet. I appreciate your concern and will talk to you soon. xoxo”

But sometimes, the strong, brave Heather would be on her lunch break, and someone else would appear.
Sometimes I would want to say, “Have you emailed him, too?”
Sometimes I would want to say, “Do you just want to hear the gossip, or do you actually care?”
Sometimes I would want to say, “I don’t want to hear your opinion. Save it. Stop pretending you care about me and go get your details from someone else.”

Sometimes I would want to say, “don’t ask me what happened.  I didn’t do ANYTHING different from what was originally planned!  ASK HIM WHAT HAPPENED.”

Sometimes I would want to say, “Leave. Me. Alone.”   And crawl into a dark a cave and sleep for the next 3 months.

Sometimes I wanted to forward my friends his phone number so that they can not only ask him what happened, but possibly be a little mean to him as well. (okay- in all honesty, sometimes I still wish for this) And sometimes, I wanted to just forward each and every text, email, and message I got to him so that he can deal with the after effects of his decision.

But in my humiliation and insecurity, I responded in order to make sure that people still loved me.  In order that they don’t think less of me.  In order that they don’t hear the “wrong” side of the story or blame me for the break up. In order that I didn’t appear as pathetic as I felt, and that I could at least try to hold on to any tiny bit of self-respect and dignity that may have lingered after I believed he would meet me at the alter and kiss the bride.  After I believed this so much so that I moved across the nation with him, for him.  In order to defend myself from the people who never thought we would make it, and now I had proven them right. We didn’t make it. We couldn’t make it. And I was alone in upstate New York without a plan, or a list, or even a hint of a clue.  In order that my pride reigned and my humility hid from my mortification.

I have not been strong. Even today, I am weak.
I don’t want him back.  I know I can’t want that.  But I still cry myself to sleep some nights. I still analyze conversations from months ago and wonder if I could have done something differently, thinking that perhaps I did this to myself.  I still want to wake up some day and it all have been a really, really bad dream.

I know he is not the one, and even though I don’t want to I miss him. I do. I miss him, everyday. And I’m waiting, somewhat eagerly and somewhat anxiously, for that longing, that missing to disappear.  That’s not strength. But it’s truth.


  1. I think the fact that you're willing and able to admit that you're not as strong as some might think is pretty damn strong. It sounds weird, but it takes a hell of a lot of strength to admit that you have bad days. And, by all means, that's okay.

    And if you ever change your mind about the text message attacks, you can forward me his number. ;)

  2. Just having the guts to post all of this out there - for the entire WWW to see is strength. And knowing there is a chance he will somehow see this too, is strength. Getting up every day and moving forward with your life is strength. Even laying in your bed all day and watching TV is strength - because you are doing what is RIGHT for you and doing what YOU need. Not every day is going to be a bed of roses, even if you were married.

    Keep going. You're so much stronger than you'll ever realize or admit. I know you have NO clue girl so just believe me.

  3. "But it’s not second nature. And it’s often not even third nature. It’s a struggle and it’s a choice."

    This is exactly why you inspire me. When Derek dumped me after telling me to expect a proposal, I slept all that month. I really mean it. I was awake for maybe an hour or two a day. I almost failed my classes. I don't even remember that month existing.

    It is a struggle and a choice. You are making good choices, choices that I didn't have the strength to make. You may not feel strong but you aren't hiding from the world. It's OK to have days on end where you get lost in great TV. You are still connecting with people through this and that is the important thing.

  4. I agree with mlp. I don't strength means "moving on instantly and not caring anymore." I think that's denial. No one could just move on. People have this vision of strength that is unrealistic and unhealthy. But I think strength is facing the pain, the heartache, the deep depression and mental blockage, and TRYING to move on, one step at a time. And it's obvious you're doing that. Stuff like this, a broken engagement, a cancelled wedding, it breaks a person. It's HARD. Strength isn't denying that and pretending to move on. It's struggling and choosing and trying, no matter how long it takes. And let me just say, it's okay to spend days locked inside your apartment. It's okay to bury your feelings in fiction for a long as you continue, to whatever extent you can, to move on and be free and happy again. Strength isn't defined by how quickly you move on; it's proven when you never give up. It may take a few more episodes of One Tree Hill, but I don't see you giving up. So yeah, I do think you're strong, and you're only going to get stronger.

  5. i still think you've been and are very strong. don't care what you say.

    can't wait for some girl time. i'm still big on ice cream (or gelato) so put that in the oct plans.

  6. i think you are so very strong, friend. I just adore you and who you are. I think its good that you embrace those moments when you still miss, when you still cry, when you still feel. Its in those moments where you are gaining strength, every day. I agree with Michelle--you are only going to get stronger. :)

  7. I'm not strong. :) But I love you. And we can find strengths in others weaknesses.

  8. Nice post. Hope things are better a year on.


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