I shouldn’t be telling you this. In fact, if movies have taught me anything about engagements and weddings, I should point-blank lie to you. Because apparently when someone gets engaged it is supposed to be sunshine and flowers and winged-babies playing trumpets in the sky above. Delirium should set in like a soft coma of powdered sugar and wine.
But for me, getting engaged was a bit like a haunted house ride I gleefully ran towards and then found myself happy, scared, and nauseous all at the same time.
Because my blog is about dating, I’ve been afraid to write about getting engaged. Because my blog is supposed to be about you, I didn’t think people would want to read about me. Somewhere along the way I heard too many voices talking about “content strategy” and staying “on brand” and making sure everything serves the audience. I lost myself. I fear I’ve lost my voice. I haven’t written a straight-up honest, from Hattie, this is me, hang-on-let’s step-into-my-office-and-talk-about-my-bowel-movements post in a long time. I’m sorry for this.
This past March, I got engaged. And I’ve yet to talk about it on the blog. I reference it at the beginning of the Anxious Girls’ Guide book, but that’s it. So here’s the blog post I’ve been wanting to write, but haven’t.
Here’s everything I want to tell you. Here is what I wish I’d known, as a naturally anxious and nervous person, before I got engaged:
Even if you know it’s going to happen it will still be an overwhelming experience
Jared and I had talked about our future a lot. We’ve discussed where we want to be in ten years and we’ve discussed how many children we might someday try to have. Hell, the DAY BEFORE we got engaged we were discussing whether or not we’d want to do premarital counseling if we got married. And yet? Getting engaged was emotionally insane. It’s okay if you end up feeling overwhelmed even IF you see it coming. It’s okay.
When I realized he was about to ask me to marry him, I felt physically nauseous
Like, shaky and weak and sick to my stomach. Which, as someone who prides herself in “listening to her gut”, made me feel even more panicked since I couldn’t tell if it meant something was wrong. But now, five months later, I’m able to reflect more objectively and know it was the sheer volume of emotions the immensity of the moment flooding my system. It’s an intense moment, that is heavy with purpose. There is pressure to remember everything, to feel grateful, to be present, and to act the “right” way (aka like opening presents on Christmas morning only tenfold).
You might cry and it might be for the “wrong” reasons
As I’ve said before in previous blog posts, I cry a lot. Easily. All the fucking time. Don’t even think about showing me that video of a cat being rescued and befriending an owl because I WILL RUIN EVERYTHING. After the initial shock of Jared proposing, I started crying. And pretty much didn’t stop for the rest of the night. And you know why? Because I’m a damn poet and instead of feeling joy I thought of every horrible thing that can happen to two people in love. I thought about one of us getting sick. I thought about death. I thought about watching our parents get sick. I thought about infidelity, emotional neglect, indifference, manipulation, and the simple act of drifting apart. I thought about couple’s I’ve known who have said and done horrible things to each other. All of this. Because the truth is, when someone asks you to spend the rest of their life with you, you are absolutely agreeing to sharing LIFE with them. And life can get motherfucking real really, really fast.
Give yourself time to process
Dude, the questions. The unrelenting, endless, tsunami wave of questions you will get from the people in your life once they find out you’re engaged is unbelievable. The people asking the questions are almost always well-meaning, yet the repetition of questions will probably make you want to carve off your ears Van-Gogh style and mail them to your relatives with a scrawled note that says “I’M LISTENING.” But really, if you want, don’t tell anyone at first that you’re engaged. Jared knew I wanted at least two full days before we told anyone. To be honest, I could have happily gone two full months without telling anyone. Take some solo walks where you can digest what is happened. A few days after we got engaged I took a hike to a waterfall, which I called my getting-to-know-my new-ring hike. I legit looked down at the ring and went, “let’s get to know each other, you shiny-ass piece of rock.”
I am beyond excited to share my life with Jared and every day I am grateful for how much he’s supported me since the day we met. However, as a person living with anxiety the weight of being engaged and planning a wedding is pretty huge. And, thankfully, Jared understands this. He’s actually the one who encouraged me to write about all of this when I mentioned I was feeling stagnant with content for the blog.
I shouldn’t be telling you this. In fact, I should probably lie since it sounds trite and cliche. But getting engaged has illuminated my anxiety in a way I never anticipated: it’s made me thankful for a moment that triggered my anxiety.