6 Things to Know After Your Engagement Ends (Especially if you have chronic illness)
“Have enough courage to trust Love one more time. And always one more time.” — Maya Angelou
(Thank you to Kelly from Little Blue Canoe for sending me this quote)
ICYMI – Around 10 days ago, my engagement ended. As did my relationship. It’s been heart breaking, overwhelming, shocking and sad. But, in the short time I have had to digest this life-altering change, there are a number of lessons I have learned. Some I already knew, but this unfortunate decision made my belief in them stronger. Others, wow — Never did I think they would be a part of my story. Most, I can relate to my battle with chronic illness for I always knew it was making me a more resilient, loving and grateful person.
Lesson One: You have NOTHING to be ashamed, scared or embarrassed about.
If there is one fact I know to be true, it’s that relationships end all. the. time. Just because you had deposits on wedding vendors, a dress picked out and were daydreaming of your wedding day, does not equate any stigma. There are 1,000,000 reasons why and when relationships end. Not one person I have told has made me feel less than because I got broken up with while I had a ring on my finger. In contrast, my friends and family have supported me endlessly. So take it from me, there’s no need to lay in the dark with your face burning red with shame. There’s nothing to be ashamed about. It’s no different from not feeling ashamed about accommodations you need to manage your chronic illness or feeling embarrassed to have one.
Lesson Two: Share your story, feel the love.
Although I’m not one to keep feelings inside very long (Hello anxiety), it’s important to tell your family and friends — those who you shared the engagement with. If you can’t do it by yourself, ask someone to do it for you. I had my parents contact our close family and friends because I was in no state to write or say those words myself. But, I needed to be heard. I needed my people around me, supporting me, loving me. It helped. Their short or long messages, their prayers, their encouragement, their willingness to answer my call day or night have been my saving grace over the past week and a half. Those same people have been there with me through my chronic illnesses. You are not alone.
Lesson Three: There will be sleepless nights.
That first night after our first phone call after the break-up was rough. I tossed and turned all night, begging the thoughts in my head to stop churning. This is when I was curled up in the pitch black, my face hot from embarrassment. And again, I’m sitting here at 1 am, writing my thoughts out. It reminds me of the nights I’ve spent riddled with anxiety or so uncomfortable from pain. The gut feeling is the same — Something is wrong and I can’t fix it right now. However, the sleepless night will pass, the next day will be a haze of naps and I will come out the other side with new belief in myself, my strength and my ability to cope. Because, I survived one more night.
Lesson Four: You will be mentally and physically exhausted.
My brain and body turned to mush after I was told my relationship was done. It’s like having #migrainebrain. I can’t remember a damn thing at the moment. I even had to put out a call on Facebook to ask my friends if I had agreed to any phone calls or plans because my memory was blank. And, when I’m not sleepless, I’m dead asleep. My days have been short. By 5pm, I’m counting down the hours to an acceptable bedtime and ramping up my self-care. Baths at 6pm, two episodes of Law & Order SVU (During the last episode I start taking my nighttime meds) and by 9pm, it’s lights off and meditation time. From my experience with chronic illness, I know there’s no point in fighting the brain fog and droopy eyes. Let them happen, let my body and mind recover and I’ll be back on my feet faster.
Lesson Five: You will probably experience a chronic illness flare-up.
Mine happened a week after my engagement ended. The shock was wearing off, the previous migraine had ended and I had reached my breaking point of mental and physical exhaustion. It was here my anxiety increased too. Honestly, I was expecting a migraine to happen. The end of a relationship is stressful. Stress equals inflammation in the body and the couple of sleepless nights didn’t help. So, I’m trying to be proactive by increasing my self-care and being gentle on myself. It’s working — the migraine didn’t last long and every time I feel anxious, I reach for my phone and find a friend to talk to. Whether it’s my best friend, a member of a chronic illness Facebook group I see is online or the last person I texted, I reach out.
And most importantly…
Remember, it’s ok. You are ok. Everything IS ok. You are allowed to ask for more love and care during this difficult time. If you need a friend, you know how to find me.
PS – This is the last picture I will post with my engagement ring. This photo was a part of a photo shoot and my intention was to use it in a post about my struggles with mental illness. But now, it has a different meaning.