Sometimes, you hear about people who through their seemingly irrepressible optimism show all of us the best way to deal with bitterness and disappointment, and in turn spread our wings and soar to freedom and happiness once more. This is one of those stories. Truly inspirational!
In October last year, twenty-three-year-old Shelby Swink was getting ready to marry the man she had been dating for three years.
‘I poured my heart and soul into the wedding plans to try and make it the best day it could be. It was going to be a celebration of our love and commitment to each other, so I wanted it to be absolutely amazing,’ Shelby said.
But five days before the wedding, Shelby’s fiance told her that he was not in love with her, did not want to marry her, or spend the rest of his life with her. Shelby’s dreams were shattered.
‘I was in complete shock and had no idea what to think or do. I was numb. The next couple days were a blur of calling guests, canceling services, and figuring out our living arrangements.’
Shelby’s loved ones of course really wanted to help her, but they struggled to find the way to do it. The day of the cancelled wedding was very close.
But Shelby knew one thing for certain: ‘Pity was the farthest thing from what I wanted or needed.’ It was at this point that her wedding photographer suggested turning the spite and bitterness into something positive: a fun photo session centered on ruining her now useless wedding dress.
Shelby recalls: ‘…after thinking about it, I knew that doing something to mark the occasion was the perfect thing for me. I was not going to let my ex-fiance’s mistake of letting me go take away my happiness.’
In the end, the day of the scheduled wedding turned out to be a happy one, with Shelby surrounded by the people who loved her. Her father even brought along some champagne and cigars.
‘My mother spent so much money on the dress and alterations, so at first I was nervous to even think about destroying it. But [she and everyone else] supported the idea 100% and even joined me in their own dresses and suit.’
Shelby decided that she wanted her bridesmaids to take part as well, and they were all overjoyed to take part in the photo session.
‘The moment the paint hit my dress…I was free. All the disappointment, all the hurt… I just felt it leave me. I can’t even describe how liberating and cathartic the experience was for me. I let go of all the hurt and became myself again,’ Shelby said.
Although she’d been left almost at the alter, Shelby refused to fall into self-pity and even managed to inspire those around her.
‘I am a strong woman who believes that everything happens for a reason. We all face adversity in our lives, but what really defines us is how we decide to overcome that adversity. I decided that I will not let this tragedy and heartbreak consume me, and bring me down in life.’
Shelby had one thing to say to the man who left her: ‘Thank you for safeguarding me from even greater pain and disappointment in the future. Thank you for helping me to realize how strong I really am.’
Thanks to you, now I’m certain that no one can take my happiness away from me. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to find my true love in the future.’