In Other News, The Wedding Is Off…

November 6, 2014

You may have noticed I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog lately.  (Maybe you haven’t, y’all have lives).  It’s taken me over a month and now, a glass of $8 wine to get through this post, but here I am, cajoling myself into sharing.

The wedding is off.

There, I said it.  Yes, the wedding is off.  The wedding I’ve been saving up for, for well over a year.  The wedding I’ve build Pinterest boards for and planned for and poured myself into…that big event which has been chronicled on this blog until you probably wanted to barf in your mouth about my love of mason jars….. Yep, it’s not happening.

You know what? Despite the nights I spent crying on a friend’s air mattress after too many scotches on the rocks finally pried it out of me, after tiresome days of being brave, I did my crying and now, I’m doing just fine.  Even better still, so is he.  Turns out that sometimes, two good people don’t make for a great marriage. We’re both good people. Good people who wanted a great marriage, and when it became abundantly clear that we wouldn’t be able to have a great life together- we did the right thing, the hard thing, and called it off.

Weddings are expensive. Divorces are very common.  When I stand in front of the world, my family, friends and sign my life away in a legally binding contract that mushes our lives together in a court of law, I want to be sure we have every chance in the world that we are going to fight the statistics and make it work.  The odds are against every last one of us to make a forever love truly last “forever.”  I don’t have Britney’s legal team, so going into marriage flippantly just doesn’t cut it.  I took it seriously, very seriously.  Some folks simply didn’t understand that my vow, when given, is sacred.  To those people who misunderstood the impact of the marriage vows I would be taking- especially because I think I personally take them appropriately seriously, best of luck in your marriages, I’ll deal with mine the way I choose.

The last month opened my eyes.  When you go through something like this, you learn the hard way with what you can live with, and what you have to live without.  You discover things that fault your faith and show you who you are.  You start to realize that even people you knew wholly and truly, may have entirely different definitions of what “wholly” and “truly,” actually mean in practice.

 

I think someday, I’ll be able to talk about this more, but today is not that day.  I’ve rewritten this blog post several times and even now, it still doesn’t sound quite right.  Eventually though, when things settle a bit more, I think it will be useful to talk about this more- but right now, things are still too fresh, too raw.

Calling off an engagement seems to be one of society’s last taboos.  During this whole ordeal, I wondered if it would be easier to face everyone if I simply just got married, then dealt with the inevitable divorce.  Can I just say, looking back on it all, how ass backwards that is?  In fact, some people even implied that we should just “go on ahead with it,” knowing where it was headed.  How, honestly, is that a thing that people suggest? I don’t know about you, but I don’t have spare hearts to break and money to burn.  I’ve dealt with the shame, and the fear of failure, and especially, the sometimes cruel, pointed questions, to come out the other side and realize I have done the right thing.

 

It’s been a beautiful, tumultuous fall in Chicago.  Much like the season, my life has been reaping the harvest of the seeds we’ve planted.  In the reaping of what we harvest, you realize who your friends are, and thus, who they are not.  In the moments where I have felt alone and scared, and sometimes, even shunned, I’ve seen the tremendous good in people.  I can tell you, having been through this-  there is an immeasurable amount of good in people.  People will choose to do what is RIGHT, not what is easy.  People will choose acceptance, forgiveness and inclusion when often, it is much easier to choose to turn your back, or to pick sides.

Then again, there are also people who have a very “high school” way of dealing with things.  After the sting wears off, you realize that they never liked you anyway (surprise surprise!).  You’ll be glad you went to task of cutting the tall grass and breaking a sweat-  now you can see where the snakes are hiding, and that right there, is a great lesson to live, even if it hurts like hell at first.

As Maya Angelou famously said, “When people show you who they are, believe them.”

It’s funny, my now “ex” handled the situation much better than some of the folks we knew as they found out about the situation.  It was sometimes shocking and painful to discover folks who were all too quick to pick sides, throw stones or demonize the other.  I’m very fortunate that early on, we realized the senselessness of that kind of behavior.

Life is short, it can sometimes be cruel. Nobody in this whole world really knows what we’re doing (we’re all living this life for the first time), so let’s be kind and stick together.  The time for childish games and sides are better left behind on the playground, not in the practice of life.

Coming full circle- nobody is really good or bad (at least I’d like to think..with the exception of dictators, serial killers and all around assholes) but sometimes, they’re just not so good for each other.  This rings true for partners, for friends, for coworkers and for personal trainers and hair dressers. Sometimes, you just find that what works for a time doesn’t work for a lifetime.  That’s okay.  Forgive yourself and forgive the one you’ve loved and move on.

 

This blog of mine has been trickling in for weeks now.  I’ve updated only as much as I needed to, to ensure everyone I wasn’t dead, but I assure you, I was sort of dying for awhile.  I died, and I came back to life.  I don’t know what this life is going to be like- but through the pain, I emerge with gratitude, acceptance, hope, and most of all, love.  I refuse to let my heart freeze over with cynisism.  I have seen too much kindness, too much strength, too much humanity, to give up now.

In a weird way, pain has let me know that I’m still alive.  I have a heart that beats and people who love me.  I have about 3 years of amazing memories that will not sour, they are a part of me and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.  I have no regrets, and I hope in my quiet way,  in a very small, small way- I was brave, I was kind, I was wise, and I was loved.

 

Going forward, this is a new chapter for me. I don’t know what it’s going to look like for me, or for this blog, but I hope that you’ll be along for the ride.  When I have more to say on the subject, you’ll hear from me.  When I have other things to say, I sincerely hope that now that this giant lifebomb of a confession is out there, I’ll have the headspace to share it with you.

Yes, it’s been hard, but I’m okay. He’s okay. We’re okay…even if we aren’t really a “we” like it used to be.  Sometimes, when things don’t go as planned, you can at least take solace that you’ll survive, you did what you thought was best, and you did so in nothing but respect for each other in the hopes that friendship could be salvaged.  Hopefully, we managed to juggle all of that somewhat gracefully because we still wish to remain friends and we get along just fine despite the change in relationship status.  We march on.

 

Our choice not to wed has baffled some, but made sense to others.  In the end, we realized it was the right for choice for us.  Always, when given the opportunity, do what is right, do what is kind, do what is best, not what is simply “expected” of you.  Some people won’t understand that, but your life isn’t being lived for them. Our lives weren’t lived for them, they were for us and we made choices we could live with.

And now a piece of wisdom that’s gotten me through the last few weeks…

 

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So, now that that’s out there…Here’s to the journey…

 

 

 

*later edit:  I really didn’t want to say much about this issue at all, like, ever.  But silence doesn’t always equal fairness.  I want to be fair, but I also think there is something that can be shared by talking about things like this.

Breaking off an engagement seems to be one of society’s last taboos, and something many people feel fear and shame around.  I struggled with whether to even talk about it this much on the blog for weeks, but for my sake, and the sake of any other person out there struggling with something like this, I write. We all benefit from transparency in the digital age…my life isn’t just a shiny collection of polished instagrams.  I’m human, I bleed.  I have my pain, but I have nothing to be ashamed of on this journey, and I have nothing to hide. 

47 comments so far.

47 responses to “In Other News, The Wedding Is Off…”

  1. Sigh. You know I’m here for you if you ever want to vent. I’ve been through enough break-ups to remember the pain vividly, and also the moments of undeniable peace and hope that break through and remind you that things really WILL be okay again. Life is so bizarre. And beautiful.

  2. Beks says:

    I’m sorry to hear that. Ending a relationship and a potential future is definitely difficult, but this is probably less difficult than a divorce would be. Good luck in the future to you both!

  3. Kristen says:

    I once sat crying in my parent’s car a month before my wedding listening to my parent’s say “we can postpone or cancel this thing.” I was too afraid to say ‘yes.’ I was too afraid to face the truth and listen to that voice deep inside myself that said ‘he’s not right for you.’ Other people knew it, but trusted me and my decision. 14 months later, after a tumultuous marriage, marriage counseling, and deceptions, I stood up for myself and said “this marriage is not for me.” As someone who wishes she could have said those words before the dotted line was signed, I applaud your decision. Standing up for yourself, what you need/want, and who you are, is always the right decision. It hurts like hell, but in the end, choosing yourself always equals love.

  4. Sarah says:

    What a beautiful and honest post. Thank you for sharing. I broke off an engagement and cancelled a wedding in 2011. He was and is an absolutely wonderful man. We just weren’t wonderful together. I applaud your courage- I know the kind of bravery you need to go forward with this type of decision. If you ever need to chat, I’m all ears. Again, thank you for sharing this post. I think you will help more people than you realize.

  5. Alyssa says:

    I’m sending healing thoughts your way. I’m sure this wasn’t an easy decision but it sounds like you are finding peace in that decision. And I agree breaking off an engagement is still very taboo but somehow divorce is no longer taboo. Doesn’t make any sense! Breaking off an engagement seems better than a divorce to me.

  6. Alisia says:

    Sometimes the best decisions are the hardest decisions. In your heart you have to know that you are doing what is right for you. Don’t worry about everything says or thinks, it doesn’t matter. Hang in there, it can only go up from here.

  7. shaina says:

    This took guts! I am sorry for what you are going through, but as someone who has broken off an engagement and is now happily married to my soul mate, I say kudos to you. It will happen, and it will be right!

  8. christa says:

    Such as hard decision to make. It can be so much easier to just go through it it and hope things get better. I’ve seen too many friends, go through with a wedding they weren’t sure about and then separate and divorce within the next year or two. Weddings are expensive as a guest too, with the shower gift, wedding gift, traveling, (and many more expenses if you are in the wedding too).
    Good Luck and thanks for sharing.

  9. My heart aches for you right now. I’m sorry for the pain you are going through, and I just want to say how brave you are for choosing such a hard thing. You’re absolutely right- two great people don’t always make for a great marriage. I’m a mental health counselor, and I wish more people possessed the wisdom and courage that you’ve shown. Continue to love yourself through the healing process.

  10. Devin says:

    hey, I just want to chime in to applaud you for putting this out here and being so honest. I know it can’t have been easy. Your writing is fantastic and I love reading your blog. Best wishes for the future and all it brings!

  11. Sheila says:

    So sorry to hear this. I know it was very hard to write this post and to even deal with that situation. I just discovered your blog and have been going back through all of the old posts. Keep your head up and it always gets better just give it some time. Good luck!

  12. Rebecca Jo says:

    I’m so sorry to hear of the emotion you have to go through with this all… but glad you stopped a train from running into a brick wall…
    Sometimes doing the hard thing is the best thing.
    hang in there. You know we’re on your side.

  13. Val says:

    You are very brave to share such a private matter with all of your readers. Thank you. I have no doubts what a hard decision this was for both of you but as someone who has watched her best friend enter into a marriage that was not perhaps the right one for either party, have a child and now be talking about contemplating divorce I applaud you for both of you being honest with yourselves. Time heals and when we are honest with ourselves we know the right path forward.

  14. Bridget says:

    Thank you for sharing this post. In a world wide web of chronic oversharers, you managed the impossible: a graceful disclosure of just the right amount of information to connect without feeling totally naked in front of your blog audience.

    I’m engaged and I frequently feel alone in being overwhelmed about the magnitude of the promise I’m making. Everyone just talks about the fun of planning a wedding and never really gets into the staggering personal demand to make a marriage. I hope you feel empowered to share more of your story when the dust settles and you’ve had even more time to reflect (even though where you are now seems to be such a place of maturity and peace I tremendously admire you for getting to that point so quickly… I think I’d be catatonic in a corner still). You’ve had a personal experience others can learn a lot from.

    Wishing you the best <3

  15. Lei says:

    I agree. It’s better now than later.

    You are stronger that you think. You’re nice, beautiful, friendly, and you will do just fine. Time will help you to heal!!!
    God Bless you.
    I wish you all the best on your new journey.

  16. Sally says:

    Hey, you are continuing in your journey of becoming an incredible person that this world needs. Seriously, your blog has helped me a lot since I really started reading it over a year ago (before I would always just stop to look at your picture-filled posts but not really comment). I am always so impressed with how you stay poised and calm, but share the real stuff, the hard stuff no one wants to talk about. You don’t need to share any more than you already have, but hopefully this will help you heal and grow and your readers will now more than ever that they <3 you. Marriage is a huge commitment. Even after 6.5 years together, being just married we have had way more serious talks, open questions and things to figure out. Plus you realize that this is your family, this person more than the people that you grew up with, even though they are always your family, you also have this new incredible responsibility. Wishing you a lifetime of happiness, and I know it will be yours because you have made it your intention.

  17. Revanche says:

    Many hugs to you. I’m sorry that this has been such a difficult time but you had to make the decision that was most right for you two, regardless of what other people think. You were the ones who would have had to live the marriage and deal with the aftermath, not them! I’ve had good friends break off engagements and I’ve always been happy for them that they figured out whether or not they were with their best fit before they made such a huge commitment. Marriage is no joke and it’s a lot of work, you deserve to enter it with the best partner for that at your side. <3

  18. Charlotte says:

    Wow – you are amazing. Brave, eloquent, and amazing. I wish you all the very best – you totally deserve it! I hope writing this was therapeutic, but take time for yourself. We’ll all still be here when you’re ready x

  19. Erica says:

    You know how I feel about this. You are a great person and I am so lucky to call you my friend. I am so, so, so proud of you. I couldn’t even fit it into this box here. I hope you are only patting yourself on the back and appreciating yourself through this.

  20. Suji Yoon says:

    Live your truth and screw what everyone else thinks. Social convention is bullshit. I don’t need marriage to be happy in a relationship either. No one does, really. Why can’t two people just really like & care about each other without a piece of paper & a ring that will bankrupt them?

  21. Anna Y says:

    I am so sorry…I began reading your blog when you were talking about saving up for it and all. I hope everything works out.

  22. Lindsay says:

    That is rough… run it out, girl. Sending you good thoughts.

  23. Miss Thrifty says:

    Sending hugs from across the Atlantic. Over here, there isn’t much taboo attached to calling off an engagement. Perhaps that is because it is more difficult to get divorced! Divorce is awful for everyone; calling off an engagement takes courage, but something tells me that this new beginning is not going to be on your list of regrets. Ever. xxx

  24. Stephanie says:

    First of all, thank you for sharing! I had doubts during my engagement, and ended up divorced after a few years. My advice to anyone is: even if the invitations have gone out, or if you’ve already had the rehearsal dinner, it’s not to late to call it off. Divorce may be common, but it isn’t less difficult just because so many people go through with it. Shannyn, I know it may take you a long time to heal, but you will get there and it will be so worth it in the end! Congrats on listening to your heart, and not other people.

  25. Kay Lynn says:

    Shannyn, I’m sending hugs your way. I know it was hard to do and hard to share. Having been through a divorce,I can tell you it’s far better to call off the wedding than to be dealing with a divorce years later when the ties are even more established and there may be kids.

    Two relatives also called off engagements this year and both times I was sad for them but glad they made the decision now versus after the fact. Take care of yourself!

  26. Lisa says:

    My thoughts are with you. I’m currently engaged, and it pisses my fiance and I off when people tell me that it’s “my day”, or the wedding will be the best day of our lives. Uh, what about the marriage people?? I think I need to save that for a separate post…

    But seriously, I admire how honest and tactful you are about this. I’m sure it was a difficult decision (writing that doesn’t seem to give it any justice), but it was a decision that had to be done. Better now than after the wedding, in my opinion. I’ve seen my cousin call off his wedding and while people are sad for him, he’s having the time of his life knowing that’s it’s almost freeing in a sense.

  27. Neti* says:

    So very proud of YOU. We are all human and we tend to be humane. . . .

  28. Lauren Noel says:

    DAAAAANG – What a soul warrior you are, Shannyn Noel! I am in awe of your ability to stay true to yourself and know that it will pay off SO beautifully. This is an incredible opportunity to create and build whatever you wish, knowing that the universe will support every step of your journey. I’ve experienced it as the toughest, yet MOST rewarding work EVER.

    THANK YOU for taking the time to bear your heart and share your pain with us. It is refreshing to see someone following the voice of their soul in such a courageous way. If you ever want to chat, you know where to find me. <3

  29. Glenda says:

    So sorry to hear that but it sounds like you guys did the right thing. Take Care!

  30. Aerevyn says:

    A strong, brave, truth-driven decision.

    Breakingi it off before a wedding sounds painful. Having jumped into a marriage even though it felt off in way that I could not put my finger on, I will say that divorce is hard.

  31. Michelle says:

    I am very proud of you and your ex for recognizing that marriage to one another would not be the right fit for you. It takes a lot of self-awareness and honesty to make a decision such as this one. Am sending you my support and good vibes.

  32. Janine says:

    You are such a brave individual and I admire that about you. I’m sorry that you are going through some less than pleasant things in your life and my hope for you is that you get through as best as you possibly can. It can’t be easy, but in the end I’m sure it will be the right choice. Sending you lots of hugs from Canada, have a glass of wine for me!

  33. Kim says:

    Brave girl you are! I walked through something very similar 2 decades ago. It is hard and painful and even in the best of circumstances not fun to go through. As an “older and been there” girl I will just say …keep your head up and to quote one of my favorites…” Keep moving forward” (Walt Disney). It won’t always be easy… there will be days when you will wonder.. Give yourself moments to take a few steps back sometimes as you push forward. Don’t compare what you are experiencing … Just take it day by day and sometimes moment by moment. Above all you are brave to share this here. It gets easier with time…I am sure I am not the first person to say that to you. This experience is shaping who you are for the future… Sounds like you are on the road to make it work for good. Hugs to you Shannyn.

  34. Ewa says:

    I hope that you are reading these comments and that they are like little balms on your hurt heart and soul. That was one of the most beautiful posts I’ve ever read on the internet. You have amazing courage and depth of soul to share this in a kind, thoughtful, and honest way.

    There is no way for me to understand your pain, but only want you to know that my heart is here for you. We’ve never met (hello creepy internet), but I’d give you a hug and pour many a glasses of scotch for you if I could. Standing up for that gut feeling when society says that you’re supposed to tough it out and work on it can feeling shaming, scary, and painful. You are not any lesser of a wonderful person because of this and your maturity and bravery in sharing this with your readers is astounding.

    Lots of creepy internet strangers are rooting for you.

  35. Elizabeth says:

    I’m sorry things didn’t work out for you guys but I admire your strength. If more people viewed marriage as you do there would be less divorces in this world. You keep doing what you’re doing and we’ll be here rooting for ya!

  36. liz says:

    I really enjoyed reading your heartfelt, mature words in this post. All the best to you.

  37. Athena says:

    I called off an engagement in 2012 and now, two years later, and a whole lotta soul searching, I am so glad and happy with my decision that I did. It was hard because like you, I had moved into this place, his place, and decorated it to be our home. And when I finally realized I couldn’t do it anymore, I moved out and in with a friend. I was fine with my decision and we had agreed to remain friends but three months later, I saw him in a new relationship and I completely lost it. He seemed so happy and I was so scared that I had done a terrible thing and given up everything for the unknown. I couldn’t hang out with mutual friends, go anywhere he might be and was basically a train wreck until I moved to Phoenix a few months later.

    But, therapy helped me so much and it helps me from making the same decisions and choices I did for years. I’ve gotten to the root of my problems and while nothing is perfect, I still work on them and I work on myself everyday. And loving yourself enough to say this isn’t for me and being okay to move on from it takes a lot of guts. And now, I am so happy that I didn’t marry him or stay in Vegas.

  38. Gigi says:

    I got married when I was 22…..and I knew, right up until the last gown fitting, it was not for me….turns out my ex said he thought the same thing as he was picking up his tux the day before…but…not wanting to make waves, we went through with it….and tried to stick it out…obviously didn’t work….and it was a LOT of unnecessary pain, tears, and wasted years. I learned a lot….and mainly that if something isn’t right….pull the bandaid and get it over with sooner rather than later….don’t worry about what anyone else thinks…you know what is right for you…it’s not to be taken lightly and it’s a wedding between two people…not two people and everyone else who knows them (or thinks they do)….it will be the ‘hot topic’ of conversation for a bit…and you will end up with thicker skin from it (not necessarily a bad thing), but only YOU know what’s going on, your reasons, and you must always trust your gut…it’s rarely wrong! I WISH I had had the balls, strength, wisdom…to do what you did decades ago! I WILL SAY….after knowing what & who wasn’t right, when the right one does come along, it’s going to be amazing – and all of the twists, turns, and hiccups it took finding each other will all make sense…and be totally worth it.

  39. This is so brave–both to make the decision to call off the wedding and the share it with the world. You have always been an inspiration to me since we met. Sending virtual hugs and lots of good vibes and thoughts.

  40. J Strong says:

    I just stummbled across your blog, trying to decide if I have it in me to start running and train (eventually) for a half marathon. I just want you to know that I find this post extremely brave and filled with grace. Best to you as you navigate through the ups and downs.

  41. manniec says:

    Congratulations! I know that sounds weird and I’m in no way trying to make light of the pain you are feeling right now. But I am proud of you for not going through with the marriage. It would have been easier to just go through with it and work on your relationship later – I’ve seen this too many times…so yes, congratulations to you! Cheers to the best decision you’ve made in your life so far! I wishing you happiness…everyone deserves to be happy!

  42. Angie. E says:

    You are so brave and I appreciate you sharing this. I was just thinking how much I value people who are honest with the world about who they and what they have been through because we can always learn from people in their trials. Don’t worry the storm and the pain will pass eventually and someone else will come along who is just right for you! Take care and God Bless!

  43. Allison says:

    This post hit all the way to my core. All of these words have been echoing in my head too, almost to the letter. I wasn’t engaged, but I was in a 7 year relationship that I saw leading to marriage, that ended very suddenly and one-sidedly. He decided we were done, and now I’ve seen who he is, and I believe him. I’ve been trying to put myself together, to come back to life as you said it, for a few months now. It’s happening slowly but surely. I’m surrounded by newlywed and engaged friends and their instagram accounts, and it’s hard. But I am learning a lot, just as you are. We’ll both get through this and be so much better for the experience, but also so much better for being out of it.

  44. Britt says:

    My best friend is now going through a horrible divorce from a man she should have never, ever married. Our friends knew it, we tried to gently talk to her about it, but she wanted to go through with it because ‘everything was already planned and it’s going to be a great wedding.’ It takes a lot of insight and courage to make the right decision before it turns into a big mistake

  45. Wow – I just posted a blog post about calling off my engagement last week, so this really resonated with me. I wish I had read this sooner because judging by the date, this was a time frame when I really could have used to see it. I am so glad to hear that you are doing better now. I am too, but it’s still a hard process to go through regardless. I so agree that calling off an engagement is taboo to a large extent. Divorces are, sadly, expected and understood to an extent. But there is no really middle ground between a break-up and a divorce that gives way for calling off an engagement. Thank you for sharing your story and giving me the confidence I needed to rest in my decision to share mine as well.

  46. I wish I would’ve had your courage when I was engaged. I thought about calling it off so many times when I was engaged in 2009 and 2010, but instead I didn’t want to disappoint my family or make it seem as if I didn’t care about the money my parents had spend on the wedding already, so I went ahead with it. We definitely weren’t meant to be together. After months of fighting, we finally divorced and I wish I hadn’t gone thru with the wedding in the first place.

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