I still had a few unresolved concerns, but I knew my sister would provide me the insight that I needed. Not only that, seeing my family at this point was going to be the exact thing I needed. Being away from your normal life, friends and family for as long as I had been, you feel alone. I could not wait to see them!
I thought my family would love both of these guys – who wouldn't? But to my surprise, my sister, the person I was looking forward to seeing the most, had a very strong opinion about J.P. I didn't need for my family to see everything right away and confirm my feelings, but I did need support from them. My sister told me that J.P. wasn't the one for me even before she had even sat down to talk to him!
Of course, this was a shock to me and immediately I felt emotional. I didn't understand how she could feel this strongly without even talking to him! You would think she would quietly be cautious and ask questions to resolve her uncertainty. Nope, she told J.P. straight out that he wasn't the one for me. What bothered me the most was not that she didn't approve, but how aggressive and unsupportive she was. All I needed at this point was someone to be supportive of whatever I was feeling ... and she wasn't.
In a way, it made me feel alone and full of questions. Was there something I wasn't seeing? Was my heart leading me in the wrong direction again? These are all questions I had only a few days to figure out.
Ben Meets the ParentsAfter this family date with J.P. crashed and burned, I had no idea what to expect with Ben. He is such a likable guy so I figured my family would love him. They did. This date went so smoothly! Though my sister still wasn't convinced Ben was the right one for me either, she was more supportive of this relationship. She felt as if I was more like myself around Ben. I subconsciously wanted my family to tell me that J.P. was the one for me, and I was crushed when my sister didn't approve, even though the rest of my family did. This alone showed me that I had to use the rest of the time I had to reevaluate my relationships so I could feel 100 percent confident in my decision, even if it meant going home without either man.
One might think that these family dates would lead me to feel so uncertain about J.P., but it made me realize that I had to trust myself and my feelings. I couldn't be influenced by what my sister had to say. I used her uncertainty to make me ask the questions I was scared to ask, but by no means did it change the way I felt about him. I always said that it is important to judge people based on what YOU know of them, and to take other people's opinions or warnings with a grain of salt.
The first time I did this I was wrong, but this time, I was so right. There were definitely times along this journey that I thought I could marry Ben and have a very exciting life with him. He is an incredible man – smart, charismatic, hilarious, warm and thoughtful. I pictured a life with him and knew we had a very special connection and comfort with one another that I want to have with my husband. But there was some feeling that was missing when I was with him that I always had with J.P. – and I knew I didn't want to lose that feeling.
You would think that the hardest part about this was trying to figure out who you loved but in the end, the hardest part was trying to figure out how to say goodbye to someone you really care about. Once I knew I would be saying goodbye to Ben, I didn't know how to act. My heart ached knowing that I would be causing heartbreak to someone. I've always preferred being broken up with than having to do it.
The Big DayWaking up on proposal day, I had a mix of emotions. I had feelings of anxiety and relief. Anxiety knowing that I had to say goodbye and potentially hurt someone I care about, and relief knowing that everything was drawing to an end. I regained confidence in my ability to find a great man, and this is exactly what I had found. The proposal setting was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. As Ben walked up, I did not know what to say, or how to act. I was speechless. Having to say goodbye to Ben was the hardest thing I've probably ever done in my life. And his reaction was certainly not what I expected. Then again, in a situation like this, you never know what to expect. I felt awful. It killed me to know I hurt him as much I did. I thought, how could I go ahead and find such happiness on a day that I caused Ben so much pain? I knew I had to clear my mind and refocus my energy on J.P. I wanted that day to be the most romantic day of my life. I knew as soon as I saw J.P.'s gorgeous smile, all would be well. And it certainly was!
Watching the proposal and all that followed I have a couple things to say: One, I completely fumbled over my words when I was trying to tell J.P. how much I loved him at the proposal. He says it's a moment that he will never forget, and he wishes everyone had been able to see it. It was pretty hilarious. And two, the montage brought tears to both of our eyes. We are so grateful to have our love story documented for the world to see, and want to thank everyone for the support and love.
I also want to say a personal thank you to Cassie Lambert, Alycia Rossiter, Ashley Spivey and Ali Fedotowsky for being such a great support system and offering words of wisdom through the hard times. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.