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Plus Size Bridal Journey - Leaning into joy

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“Lean into joy.” Wham. Hit me in the face. I couldn’t quite put my finger on my feelings until I heard Brené Brown say these words. Since getting engaged, I’ve had a hard time finding the joy in it. Of course, I’m so happy and absolutely in love with Tyler. But, there’s this sense of feeling like it’s all too good to be true or that something bad is going to happen. And I get angry at myself for not feeling just immense joy. Like finding the joy in venue and dress shopping or thinking about all the fun things ahead. I’ve been struggling, and these words, “lean into joy,” finally helped me understand why.

For many of us, the trauma and bad things that have happened to us will forever shape our future experiences and how we react to what happens in our lives. For me, my life has been a story of feeling broken, unworthy and unlovable. This isn’t me feeling sorry for myself, I promise. This is an honest reflection of the deep sense of self that I held on to for so long. To all of a sudden try to flip a switch of questioning your worth to feeling fully and completely loved doesn’t just happen overnight.

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I’ve very openly talked about my journey with my weight and body image. Until I was 30, I spent my life dieting and trying to shrink myself. I blamed my weight for why I was single and unlovable. And when I wasn’t blaming my body, I was blaming who I was as a person as to why no one wanted me. I was too smart, too ambitious, too opinionated, too much. All of these feelings about myself I carried with me into every potential possibility for love.

When I met Tyler, I was 28 and carried into that relationship a whole lot of feelings about myself that I had to face and undo to get to accepting love. He was the first man to ever really like me from the very beginning. I never had to guess whether he liked me or play games of any sort to get his attention or spend time with him. He just liked me. On about our third date, he told me he loved me. I was terrified. How could he love me? I didn’t trust that someone could love me. I kept waiting for him to change his mind or realize what all the other men I had encountered throughout my life did and not want me.

Literally every day now for 5+ years, there’s not a day that goes by without Tyler telling me how much he loves me and how beautiful I am. Not a single day. That consistency in our relationship began healing all those years of feeling unworthy, not beautiful enough and unlovable. It took time for me to understand that his words were real, true and genuine. It wasn’t just something he was telling me. He really meant it.

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Getting engaged and getting married is something I’ve wanted for so long, and it feels surreal for it to finally be happening. In a very weird way, it’s brought up these feelings of unworthiness, and I’m working through it to embrace that I am not just worthy of love but of good things happening to me. I’m worthy of the joy that has found me in my life. When I heard Brené Brown say, “lean into joy,” I understood it. In the face of so much pain, hardship and trauma in our lives, we struggle to embrace joy when it’s happening to us.

For the rest of wedding planning, and hopefully beyond that too, I’m going to practice embracing joy. Yes, not everything will go right in life, but there’s no reason to not enjoy the good. To put aside those feelings of being undeserving of goodness to accepting that yes, we deserve good in our lives. Worthy of love. Worthy of joy. I’m continuing to learn and grow, and I just wanted to share this journey with you because I’m sure there are so many others who are going through this too.