I called Andrea, my supervisor, from the airport and calmly told her the wedding was off. When she exclaimed, "Oh My God! How are you?" I burst out crying. She, cool woman that she is, told me to take as much time as I needed and to come crash with her and her fiancé if I needed to. She even took my picture of Mark out of the frame on my desk and replaced it with a magazine clipping of ex-Washington, D.C., mayor (and convicted drug user) Marion Barry, to give me a laugh upon my return. Can't ask for much more support than that. What she didn't do was tell the rest of the office. She understandably felt that this was my news to disseminate as I chose. I understandably wanted her to alert everyone and then tell them to leave me alone. (I just forgot to ask her to do so. Be sure to make your needs clear.) I had called one work friend, Mike, near the end of the engagement, so when I didn't show up to work two weeks before my wedding, he knew what was up. But, like my supervisor, he didn't think it was his place to "gossip" about me. This left another friend, Jim, nearly frantic, pressing Mike for details. Was I hurt? Was my family okay? Mike stood mute, a Mona Lisa of loyalty. All this tact and diplomacy left me in the unenviable position of telling those coworkers I wasn't close to that the wedding was off-over and over. I had many conversations like this:
Reid: So how's the planning going? Me: Well, actually, we've called it off. Reid: (Smiling blankly.) Me: Really. Reid: (Smiling quizzically.) Me: Really. It's okay. I'm okay. We just called it off. Reid: (Smiling uncomfortably.) Me: I'm fine. I'm cool. Do you have that document for me? It could have been worse. It certainly was for Elizabeth: My coworkers were the most difficult, especially with the second breakup. My family started calling me the "runaway bride," which really did hurt, but I just kind of let it roll off my back. My second fiancé had proposed on my birthday at my company Christmas party. There were about four hundred people there and all eyes were on me as he got down on one knee and proposed, and then we had a dance. For the next four weeks, people that I had never talked to before came up to me, giving me well wishes and bottles of champagne. Then came the breakup. I was sent home from work on a mandatory leave of absence — I was too distraught to work. When I returned to work about five days later, a lot of people noticed that I didn't have my ring on anymore. It was difficult to explain to people why we weren't getting married, especially considering the circumstances. When people asked how he broke it off, I constantly broke into tears, telling them that he [had] called me from the airport on his way to California. Everyone knows how a corporate office works, especially around the water cooler:my life was up for public viewing. People always looked at me as "that poor girl" and that was the last thing I needed, like I didn't feel bad enough as it was.
HEAD BACK, CHIN UP