Getting engaged is wild. Or more specifically, it’s a wild card, because what you think you’re going to feel and what you actually feel are not always the same thing. Moments after I got engaged I went from top of the world to a full-on ugly crying anxiety meltdown, right there on the ground, with a ring on my finger.
We can talk about getting married as much as we want, but the truth is that when the actual event is set into motion, there’s no way to predict how we’ll feel. And for some people, getting engaged can feel like a massive, unexpected identity shift… and not necessarily a wanted one. So when we received this email from a reader, we thought it was worth talking about:
When we got engaged, my partner and I were willingly stepping into the next phase of our life together. I knew that an engagement wouldn’t necessarily be all rainbows and butterflies, but I had no idea what kind of transition I would soon find myself in.
So, as always, I began to do my research. I read up on wedding planning, but also delved into the emotional side of engagement and marriage. The common thread I saw throughout my research was that any and all feelings are valid during this transition. Some people have dreamy engagements, and some have tumultuous, agonizing engagements. The books stressed the importance of doing the “emotional work” instead of fighting it off.
I kept reading things about death and loss, resentment and identity, and I thought, “Is this really normal and healthy, or are a lot of women fooling themselves into thinking it is?”
What if I don’t like what I become—what if I don’t recognize myself after I’m married? How can I release the illusions and adolescent fantasies I once had about who I would marry and why, and fully embrace this fun, joyful person I love?
Did you struggle with unexpected engagement anxiety? Have any of you felt blindsided by an IDENTITY shift you didn’t want or expect? What has that shift felt like, and does it feel healthy to you?