Alanis and the E-Course: Lesson 6 (Ironic)

“It was a huge existential crisis and there was no way to slither out of it.” – Alanis in the Interview on her engagement transition

Embedded in every transition is the opportunity to practice letting go. When we become adolescents, we let go of being children. When we leave home for the first time, we let go of the security of living under our parents’ roof (or the illusion of security). When we move, we let go of memories and attachments connected to the old dwelling. When we become parents, we let go of the identity of being a non-parent (as well freedom, consistent sleep, the old body and the old lifestyle, and dozens of other things). With each letting go there’s an opportunity for rebirth, for just as spring cannot occur without the death and fallow stages of autumn and winter, so the new aspects of ourselves cannot grow on untilled soil. We must pull out the dead weeds if the new plants are to flourish.

When you marry, the list of “letting gos” seems endless. You must let go of attachments to the singlehood identity and lifestyle. You must transfer your primary allegiance from family of origin to partner. You must let go of the lingering ex (Lesson 2 of the E-Course).You must grieve the fantasies of what you thought love was supposed to feel like or save you from (Lesson 3 of the E-Course). In short, for many people who find themselves caught in the anxious wedding vortex, they find that at the core they must let go of an unrealistic image of life they had carried around for as long as they could remember. This unrealistic image bleeds into the wedding day so that part of the conscious work involves releasing the fantasy wedding so that they can embrace the actual one, whatever that may be.

Lesson Six of The Conscious Weddings E-Course is called “What if I Feel Like This On My Wedding Day?” It’s the shortest lesson of the course, because for women and men who work through the five preceding lessons, the ability to remain present and serene on the wedding day arrives effortlessly. The hard work pays off and they’re able to show up and accept whatever the day may bring. They’ve banished the perfectionist and can step into the flow of life. They feel alive, present, and connected to themselves, their partner, and the divine.

Alanis speaks to the process of letting go of our preconceived notions and accepting life’s lessons in her song, Ironic:


An old man turned ninety-eight

He won the lottery and died the next day

It’s a black fly in your Chardonnay

It’s a death row pardon two minutes too late

Isn’t it ironic … don’t you think

It’s like rain on your wedding day

It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid

It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take

Who would’ve thought … it figures

Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly

He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids good-bye

He waited his whole damn life to take that flight

And as the plane crashed down he thought

‘Well isn’t this nice…’

And isn’t it ironic … don’t you think

Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you

When you think everything’s okay and everything’s going right

And life has a funny way of helping you out when

You think everything’s gone wrong and everything blows up

In your face

It’s a traffic jam when you’re already late

It’s a no-smoking sign on your cigarette break

It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife

It’s meeting the man of my dreams

And then meeting his beautiful wife

And isn’t it ironic… don’t you think

A little too ironic… and yeah I really do think…

Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you

Life has a funny, funny way of helping you out

Helping you out


My clients inevitably long to move past the awful anxiety that takes hold of them during their engagement. But every time someone sticks with it and does the hard work required to battle fear, they learn the tools and garner the wisdom they need to traverse the tricky engagement terrain and arrive at their wedding day with serenity. “Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you. Life has a funny way of helping you out.” Or as another musical artist once said, “You don’t always get what you want, but you get what you need.” An anxious engagement might not be what you imagined or wanted, but it’s exactly what you need to prepare yourself for the marriage transition – and for every transition for the rest of your life.


Sheryl Paul, M.A., is regarded as an international expert in transitions. In 1998, she pioneered the field of bridal counseling and has since counseled thousands of people worldwide through her private practice, her bestselling books, “The Conscious Bride” and “The Conscious Bride’s Wedding Planner,” her websites, and, and her blog, She has appeared several times on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, as well as on “Good Morning America” and other top television, radio, and newspapers around the globe. Phone and Skype sessions are available internationally for all types of transitions and ongoing counseling. She lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband and two young sons.

9 comments to Alanis and the E-Course: Lesson 6 (Ironic)

  • Janelle

    What is really ironic is that I remember singing this song and chreographing a dance to it in my basement with my friends. How ironic is it that now I’m using this music with my transitions! Life is funny sometimes : )

  • magda

    I always thought that I was suppose to be so extremely happy, that this is what real happiness feels like when I was with my fiance at the beginning. And then when I got hit with this anxiety it makes me think that this is not what I wanted, because it didn’t work out as I planned in being happy, but this is what I need, I just can’t feel it right now. So frustrating.

  • Janelle

    Hang in there Magda! Trust me I’ve been there, and it does get better. During my engagement I went into a deep depression, I couldn’t stop crying, couldn’t eat, lost 20 pounds, and I laid in bed for days. I would go to work and right when I got in my car, I would cry my eyes out for hours and hours. I went to the doctor for anxiety medication and it worked at first for a few days and then it wore off. So I had the dose upped and then it wore off again. I finally figured out that I had to get to the root of the issues and the medication wasn’t helping it was just me trying desperate to make it all go away. I thought my engagement was an extreme case.

    I would read these message boards and think omg i’m soooo much worse off then them. Then I convinced myself that I had red flags and I would do anything I could to have a red flag. I know it sounds weird but I just wanted to put my finger on something. I didn’t know what I wanted to do was I suppose to get married or not. Now, I was with my husband for 10 years before we got married so- I had no idea why this was happening. I thought that I was in love with his friends- i mean it was crazy!

    I decided to look at the inner bonding sight and watch the videos. My depression was because I was treating myself horribly and judging myself. It was like I was yelling at myself because of having these thoughts. I did get out of the depression about a month before my wedding thanks to those videos and constantly telling myself that it was okay that I was feeling this way and that I had very good reasons to feel this way. Also, that these feelings didn’t make me a bad person.

    I had done a ton of work before my wedding but now looking back it’s almost like I thought I was doing the work but I really wasn’t. Also, I BANKED on everything going away after the wedding because the decision was made. I had been thinking that if you do the work it will go away on the other side of the wedding. The feelings didn’t go away after the wedding. I don’t say this to make you anxious but just in case it happens you’ll feel normal. Now, during my honeymoon I was especially anxious. During the first 4-5 months of marriage I’d have days where my anxiety was bad and sometimes unbearable. But I don’t remember it being as bad as the engagement. I also had days/weeks were things were great!

    I have learned a million things even since my wedding day and I am so thankful. By the way my wedding was wonderful : ) I am still learning things everyday. I have been married for 6 months now. I still have fear thoughts everyday but I’m getting better at brushing them off b/c I have really done lots of work around them!

    It’s so funny to me that I have to deal with issues that I thought I’d never have. For example, I never thought I had a fantasy about marriage during my engagement. The more work that i’ve done I’ve found out that there is a fantasy in my mind. Also, I didn’t think I had commitment issues b/c I was with my husband for 10 years before we married, and I do have those issues. Furthermore, I didn’t think I needed to grieve ex-boyfriends because I really didn’t have that many because I was 18 when I met my husband- but I had to grieve that. So now, when I look at things to grieve I grieve it all, I don’t dismiss it b/c I think that’s not a problem.

    Good luck and I know it’s hard right now like unbelievably hard and feels like it will never go away (someone wrote that to me well I was engaged and I thought “wow she’s lucky it is gone-mine will never go away). Also, do not put a timeline on anything everyone told me that but it is so true! I have finally learned after 6 months a marriage to stop putting a timeline on things! Good luck!

  • magda

    Thank you Janelle,

    No I really don’t think that any thoughts that you mentioned were crazy. I too think sometimes that I’m in love with my FI friends actually every single guy. When a man looks at me I get extremely paranoyed, it does feel crazy, the first four months I would avoid going out anywhere because of these thoughts, and now I still think that but I try to use the ‘thought is just a thought’ technique. I think because my feeling are so numbed out for my fiance that it’s almost like he blends in with all other men. Did you at all feel the love or excitement during your engagement? It’s horrible, the paranoya is horrible. I think it won’t ever go away. I can’t feel the love and sometimes when I do or get excited, the thoughts kick in and I go back into the deep hole. It’s just so hard to think how things are going to be in three four nine months, which is when my wedding is. I love my fiance so much, and sometimes I really don’t think I do. Sometimes, I want to end it, sometimes I don’t. These thoughts any thoughts really make me feel so guilty. I’m the first advicate to tell everyone I know that I’m scared, everyone who congratulates me I thank them and then I tell them that I’m scared and they look at me and ask me if I’m sure I want to get married. It’s been horrible, but atleast I’m acting a little better on the outside, but still drowning on the inside. My FI tells me that I look and act a lot better then the first five months, which is so great to hear. I haven’t felt that closeness in so long, complete disconnection, I think that out of everything that hurts the most. Then recentely I’ve just basically been oblivious, sort of like he’s there, atleast in my head, because my actions still speak to like I’m so in love with him. He knows everything that I’ve been going through from the very beginning and I advise every anxious bride to share their feeling with their fiances because that really saved my relationship. I’ve learned that before anything my fiance is my best friend, and even though I look at him and think that these thoughts and lack of feeling will never end I know that I have no where else to go but towards my future with him.

  • KD

    Hi Magda,
    Sounds like you’re doing so much better. Did you share some of the articles with him on the website? I am sure he just wants you to be happy/assured. Excitement is asking a lot of yourself at this point. Just take the time you need to feel more at peace with your decision. He sounds like a great guy!

  • Janelle


    My husband saved me too. I remember saying to him one time “I think that I like Mike”. Then he told me it’s okay if you feel like you like other people just as long as you don’t act on it. Then he asked me if I felt like I needed to date other guys and I said no! Well then of course fear played with my mind and I thought that I did like the other guy and maybe needed to date other people. I will tell you though- this was all fear!!!!

    This is a technique that I use now with my fear thoughts– and it takes a lot of practice to get used to. You can use this technique with the thought of “I like Mike”. Say to yourself “do you think you like mike right now in this moment?” And believe it or not if you feel like the answer is yes say “yes I feel like I like him right now” and let yourself feel that and DO NOT JUDGE YOURSELF. The thing that took me a long time to figure out was just because I may feel one way in the moment doesn’t mean that’s how I actually feel. And trust me when I answered yes to the questions i bawled my eyes out. But I would keep asking myself the same question kinda like taking an inventory on myself and sometimes i would say “yes i do like him” and sometimes “no i do not like him”. Now looking back I didn’t like anyone it was the fear and me grieving my single life I just needed to attached a face to it.

    After I got married the questions I had was “are you SURE you did the right thing?” And again I let myself say both yes and no to it and tried not to judge myself. Some days I thought no I didn’t do the right thing and some days I thought yes I did do the right thing. Every time a questions pops up it’s hard to use this strategy and I cry every time but now I’m learning it’s okay. I don’t know if anyone else’s uses this strategy but it works for me.

    Also, you are so blessed to have such an understanding fiance. I will tell you that my husband and I are so much closer after the engagement. We are now going through another transition (i’m still working on the wedding transition) and with this transition I was able to open up to him so much easier and say I’m scared. I was too scared to tell him early on during the engagement that I was scared!

    The one thing that kept me grounded was knowing that before we were engaged I knew I wanted to marry him and have babies with him- it wasn’t really a question. It was easy to say that I wanted to get married and have babies b/c I didn’t analyze every horrible thing that I did during my engagement. Also, remember how well your fiance knows you. He knows the REAL you! He can see that the thought are not ‘you’. He sounds like a wonderful guy!

  • Janelle


    There is also a video on here that’s called “be careful who you talk to”. I personally only told my husband (then fiance) b/c I was so scared of what people would say. When anyone else asked about wedding plans I’d so oh everything is going great-i’m so excited! Which I know wasn’t the complete truth but I just couldn’t bare to hear what they’d say- which was most like “are you sure you want to get married”- like anyone wants to hear that lol!

  • Janelle

    Oh and one more thing, I kept reading that peoples anxious thoughts only lasted for like 3-4 months. Mine started almost from the moment of proposal and lasted till the wedding which was a year later. I still have them and I’ve been married for 6 months. Now the intensity of thoughts lighten up over time so it’s not like I was in the throws of anxiety for that long~ but you get the picture don’t put a timeline on anything!

    Hopefully this help : )

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