Moving On

For someone who was in a 3+ year relationship and dumped 5 days before her wedding, I got over everything pretty fast.  Like lightning fast.  And a lot of people have either asked me how I did it or don’t believe that I’ve really moved on.

You first start dating someone and it’s a whirlwind of stomach butterflies, cheesy smiles, and goofy laughs.  You slowly learn more and more about this person, and the more you learn, the more you begin to really like him/her.  And like eventually turns into love.

My ex was my first real/serious boyfriend.  It was my first time being in a relationship, so quite honestly I didn’t know what I liked/didn’t like or even what a good relationship was supposed to be like.  Don’t get me wrong, we had some really good times together.. But after we broke up, I was able to step back and actually look at the relationship for what it really was, and I realized that it was not a good one.

I think that’s one of the main reasons I was able to get over everything so fast.  It wasn’t like I was dating Prince Charming and everything was wonderful and then all of a sudden everything was taken away from me.  Over the course of 3+ years, my ex did a lot of things that hurt me emotionally, and it wasn’t until after we broke up that I realized how much weight all of that hurt put on my shoulders.  I had become someone else, someone I didn’t like.  I was blind, because I didn’t know any better. I thought, “Everyone must go through things like this”, and “It only makes our relationship stronger.”

WRONG.

The reality- I was settling.

I fell in love with the first guy I dated and didn’t get a chance to experience and learn from other relationships.  My ex had some major flaws that I did not like one bit, but I chose to just suck it up and deal with them because I loved him and wanted everything to work out.  I know that everybody has flaws, but going into the relationship I didn’t have any set deal breakers.. I just accepted everything and went along with it.  It’s very exhausting honestly, and there’s constant disappointment.

Finding out 5 days before I was supposed to get married that my ex was no longer in love with me and wanted to break up was awful and disappointing, but I’m actually thankful that it happened.  Everything happens for a reason.  If we had gone through with the wedding, I would have been stuck in a crappy relationship and not known any better.  Lived with a heavy weight on my shoulders from years of emotional abuse.  Lived a life without true love.  Probably would have eventually gone through a divorce.  A story that too many people seem to find themselves in these days unfortunately.

I didn’t go through a long “mourning” period, because I was raised to take things as they come and make the best of it.  Sometimes you can’t control what happens in your life, but you can control how you react.  I decided that life is too short to sit around and be sad or mad about something I can’t change, so I made the choice to move on with my life and be happy, because I deserve happiness.  We all do!  And I have faith that one day I will find my Prince Charming who will treat me like I’m supposed to be treated, respect me and love me with all his heart.

Through it all, I’ve learned so much about myself- the power of my own strength, that I’m in control of my own happiness, and the healing power of an awesome support system.  And I have never been happier with my life.

1798222_10203954100561928_5343580858763229159_n[Happy, happy, happy!]

My advice to you- surround yourself with people who love you for you and support you no matter what, find happiness within yourself before finding it with someone else, and believe in the power of your own strength.  And for those of you going through heart break, remember that you are AMAZING and that no one controls your happiness except YOU.

Trashing the Dress

It’s November 1st, 2014.

I wake up excited and nervous for the big day ahead.

I get together with my close friends and family as we do our own hair and makeup, chatting and laughing the whole time.  And then it’s time to put on my wedding dress.. My ma helps me step into the beautiful lace dress, zips me up, and then proceeds to tackle the tiny little buttons along the back (that seem like they were designed for small toddler hands instead of adult ones).  I step out of the bathroom to show off the dress, because up until this point no one had seen the dress (not even a picture) besides my ma and sister.  Immediately there are “oohs” and “aahs” all around.. even some tears.

This is how every bride usually starts her wedding day.. Except I wasn’t getting married.

I’ll admit, it was an odd feeling.  The whole time I kept thinking, “This is what my wedding day would have actually been like.”  I was feeling almost every emotion out there and my mind was running 100 MPH.  And then it was time to head to the photo shoot.

I pulled up to the park feeling anxious, scared, and excited.  I wasn’t completely sure how it was going to go, but I knew that the group of people that were with me loved me and would make this experience fun and awesome for me.  My dad even surprised us with champagne and cigars!  Lizz, my photographer, gave us a little speech about how she wanted the photo shoot to be in stages so the experience would not be over too quickly.

STAGE 1:  Formal shots-Trash The Dress (Elizabeth Hoard Photography) (1 of 319)Trash The Dress (Elizabeth Hoard Photography) (2 of 319)Trash The Dress (Elizabeth Hoard Photography) (4 of 319)Trash The Dress (Elizabeth Hoard Photography) (26 of 319)Trash The Dress (Elizabeth Hoard Photography) (32 of 319)This was honestly the weirdest part for me, because it reminded me again of what my actual wedding day would have been like.  I was still a little uneasy at this point, and then Lizz told us it was time to pull out the paint.

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STAGE 2: Paint the dress-  Lizz gave us a little pep talk, and then we lined up to get ready.  My nerves were through the roof at this point.  I had a million thoughts going through my brain- “OMG is this really happening?”- “Ah! This dress is so beautiful.”- “I hope paint doesn’t get all over my face.”- “Man, it’s really cold out here.”

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And then the countdown started- 3… 2…

Before Lizz even got to 1, my friend Carol threw a bright blue streak of paint on me.  Immediately all those little thoughts that were consuming my brain vanished.  I was in that moment completely and felt absolutely free.  All the hurt, disappointment, anger, fear, and sadness was gone.  My other bridesmaids starting throwing their paint as well, and as more and more paint hit my dress, I could feel my happiness taking over.

Trash The Dress (Elizabeth Hoard Photography) (88 of 319)Trash The Dress (Elizabeth Hoard Photography) (103 of 319)Trash The Dress (Elizabeth Hoard Photography) (119 of 319)Trash The Dress (Elizabeth Hoard Photography) (122 of 319)(So this above picture… Someone suggested I put my feet up and cross my legs, so I did.  And because I am not graceful whatsoever, my dress flew up.  So I apologize to the nice family that was doing their sweet family photo shoot near us for showing you my knickers.  I hope your kids aren’t scarred for life.)

STAGE 3: Paint war-  Now it was my turn to throw some paint!  My bridesmaids and I grouped together with our paint and did not hold back.  It was awesome.  Everyone was having fun and laughing- not thinking about anything but being together and making the most of the moment.

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STAGE 4: Parents-  I could not have been happier to have my parents with me that day, and it made it even better that they were 100% involved and not just watching the action from the sidelines.  My family has always been a “go big or go home” kind of people, and I love them immensely for that.  I honestly think that the whole trashing the dress experience helped them move on as well.

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STAGE 5: Go Crazy!-  Now it was time for the full-fledged paint war.Trash The Dress (Elizabeth Hoard Photography) (223 of 319)Trash The Dress (Elizabeth Hoard Photography) (231 of 319)Trash The Dress (Elizabeth Hoard Photography) (232 of 319)Trash The Dress (Elizabeth Hoard Photography) (236 of 319)Trash The Dress (Elizabeth Hoard Photography) (260 of 319)

STAGE 6: Pop the champagne and light the cigars-  As I said, we are “go big or go home” kind of people.  My dad brought the Cubans and some expensive champagne, and we had a party right there in the middle of the park.  (By the way, it was FREEZING outside and we could barely feel our fingers at this point, but we didn’t care one bit.  We made the most of it and enjoyed just being together and celebrating the love of family and friends.)

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10407518_10202989907137695_1033781155914190712_nMy favorite part about these pictures is that you can see our emotional transition.  This whole experience was beneficial to everyone involved, not just me.  My friends and family hurt for me when they saw me hurt, and as my happiness took over so did theirs.  I can’t imagine a better way to have spent November 1st, 2014, surrounded by people who love and support me.

Trashing the dress was such a cathartic experience for me, and I honestly think it played a huge part in helping me get over everything as fast as I did.  But more on that later!

In My Own Words- Part Two

If you missed Part One, you can find it here.

So, it’s 5 days before my wedding… And my fiancé tells me that he doesn’t love me anymore and wants to call everything off.

WHAT NOW???

Afted shedding some tears, my mind immediately went to all the things that needed to be done (thanks to my Type A personality). Tell my family and friends, notify guests, cancel vendors, return wedding gifts, work out living arrangements, and figure out what the heck to do with all the stuff that was supposed to be used for the wedding.

Thankfully, my family and friends took care of EVERYTHING.  As soon as they heard the news they were by my side keeping me company and making sure I had everything I needed/wanted.  They literally handled everything so that I wouldn’t have to deal with it- I couldn’t be more grateful for those awesome wonderful people in my life.

The only thing left to deal with was my wedding dress.  A few options were thrown out there- sell it, save it for next time, alter it into a cocktail dress, wear it as a costume for the Halloween party/rehearsal dinner we had already planned,  shoot paintballs/throw paint at it.

My thoughts were:

Sell it- Isn’t that some sort of bad mojo to sell a jinxed dress?? I don’t want to pass that on to anyone. Next!

Save it for next time- Alright, let’s assume there is a next time.. I doubt my future fiancé is going to be ok with me wearing a dress that I picked out for another man. No thanks.

Alter it into a cocktail dress- HA! I can see it now.. “OMG, where did you get that dress?! Super cute!” “Oh this old thing? It was supposed to be my wedding dress until my fiancé dumped me.” *and cue the awkwardness*

Wear it as a costume for the Halloween party/rehearsal dinner we had already planned- Ok, I thought this one would be pretty funny, but a few people thought it might traumatize some of the guests. Everyone was already traumatized enough, so maybe I shouldn’t.

Shoot paintballs/throw paint at it- Hm, interesting.  I think that would be super fun! As well as somewhat therapeutic I’m sure. Let’s do it!

Throughout the whole planning process, I had a pretty close relationship with my wedding photographer Elizabeth Hoard.  When the fit hit the shan she personally reached out to me, and we got to talking about the paint idea.  We had already paid her in full, so she offered to shoot the paint session in place of the wedding.  We just had to choose a date..

Lizz mentioned November 1st (my wedding day).. She lightly joked that she just so happened to be free that day since her other plans got cancelled. She also made sure to mention that there was no rush and that I should take my time deciding.  But I honestly didn’t need any time.  I knew that throwing myself a pity party while wrapping myself up like a burrito in bed and binging on Netflix was not what I wanted.  November 1st was supposed to be a day filled  with family, friends, love, laughter, and happiness.. and that’s exactly what it was going to be, just with different circumstances.

Next up was getting everyone on board.  My Ma paid for the dress, so she was the one I was most nervous about. And I should have known better, because I really do have the greatest Ma on the planet who would do anything for me.  She supported the idea 100% and made sure I knew that my happiness was the only thing that really mattered, not the money or the dress itself.  My dad was one of the ones who originally threw out the paint idea, so he was all for it as well.  At this point, I knew that I didn’t want to do this alone.. I wanted everyone closest to me to be involved.  I invited both of my parents and my bridesmaids to join in on the paint party with me.  It took some convincing for a few people, but overall everyone was 100% supportive and excited about it.

We bought the supplies and were all set for the epic paint party/trash the dress… and then it was November 1st.

Stay tuned for Part Three!

In My Own Words- Part One

Hey there!  Welcome to my blog!

My story is an interesting one that has made its way around the world (which is still very surreal to me).  Many people have written about it, but I wanted to start this blog to tell the story in my own words.  And for those interested, I’ll update you on my life after trashing the dress and share other inspiring stories!

Alright, alright.. down to the nitty gritty.

Back story:  In 2011, I was attending Union University (a small baptist school in Jackson, TN) under a volleyball scholarship.  Through some mutual friends I met Bocephus (name change of course- Hank Williams Jr. anyone?), a hunky baseball player from Florida.  We eventually started hanging out/dating and really hit it off.

Fast forward 3 years through our many ups and downs, year of long distance and moving in together to March 2014.  I don’t really think of myself as a romantic, so I never really wanted a big elaborate proposal.  I knew that the proposal was coming though- we had talked about it, and I had even picked out one of my ma’s rings for an engagement ring.   We were just sitting on the couch watching TV one night and I saw the box in his pocket.. I asked him to take it out.  (And here comes my weird sense of humor) I started yelling “WHAT’S IN THE BOX?!” (a quote from dear old Brad Pitt in the movie “Seven”).  After I stopped laughing at my own hilariousness, he pulled the ring out and asked me to marry him.  I (of course) said yes.

Fast forward again through even more ups and downs, all the wedding planning and DIY projects to October 2014, a week from my November 1st wedding date.  Bocephus and I started talking about different things we wanted in life, and for the first time in 3+ years, our visions for the future weren’t matching up.  (Now I’m sure you’re thinking “Um excuse me Shelby, but shouldn’t y’all have talked about all that stuff before getting engaged?” And to answer your question- we did talk about it before, numerous times.  But for whatever reason, Bocephus had changed his mind about a few things and it was just now coming to light.)  This was a huge concern for both of us, so we took the next couple days to think things over.

5 days before the wedding, I sat my fiance down and basically said “Look, I love you and know that I want to spend the rest of my life with you.  It’s probably going to be hard as hell, but you’re the one I want to go through the struggles with.  You know how I feel, so now I need you to get your poop in a group and make a decision..

A.) You feel the same way and want to go through with this marriage and spend the rest of your life with me.

B.) You love me and want to be with me, but you aren’t really ready for marriage just yet.

C.) You don’t feel the same way and don’t want to marry me/spend the rest of your life with me.”

Bocephus chose answer C.

Stay tuned for Part Two!