AFTER taking the heart-breaking decision to call off her wedding just six weeks before the big day, Sarah Burke vowed she would get over the break-up and come back stronger.
The well-known Cork blogger, who has more than 70,000 followers across Facebook and Instagram, cancelled her wedding just over a year ago.
For Sarah, who set up her social media page ‘fatnflab2fitnfab’ in 2015 — now rebranded to Sarahburke_x on Instagram — the split was even harder to take as she had shared her wedding journey across her huge platform.
She now found herself in the daunting position having to tell her thousands of followers her devastating news.
“I was mortified.” recalled Sarah, “I shared all my wedding plans — my hen party, honeymoon party the whole lot online.
“So to have to announce six weeks before that it’s cancelled was probably the hardest thing to do with so many eyes watching. I struggled so much.”
Sarah, 30, added: “I can identify straight away why someone who has doubts would go through with a wedding, knowing they feel it isn’t right.
“Having to tell family and friends, even the anxiety inside you, the feeling you have disappointed so many. It’s awful.”
With her hopes and dreams dashed, Sarah made the decision to pack a bag, get on a flight, and escape from the nightmare she found herself in.
“I ran away from the world. Thankfully, when the decision was made at the start of February, 2020, I made the announcement, I booked a flight, and headed away with my family for a week to Lanzarote.
“I switched off my data. I disabled my apps and just felt every emotion I was feeling. I didn’t make a comeback for about six or eight weeks.”
Sarah explain: “You can’t heal being on social media. You need to remove yourself from it or else you will read what people say and think and it consumes you.
To make matter worse for Sarah, who is mum to four-year-old Luke, the pandemic hit a couple of weeks later, leaving the self-employed Slimming World Consultant’s business facing new challenges — eventually leaving her feeling as if the world was against her.
That was until she made the brave decision to reach out to a therapist after three months on a rollercoaster of emotions.
She explains: “I eventually reached out to a counsellor and still speak to her every week now.
“That first text to her to make an appointment is a text I’ll be forever grateful I sent. It changed my life.”
Sarah goes on to stress the importance of seeking help in times of need, and believes the best thing she ever did was reach out for help.
“I’ve been to past counsellors and never clicked. I felt judged and I felt uncomfortable, but with my counsellor, Jean, I just felt I was chatting to someone like my mom.
“She just got me and I got her. I would have sought opinions from everyone before, but now I just speak to her and her only and make my own decisions.”
The Northside native also pays homage to her wonderful family, who helped her through her split.
Almost a year down the road, Sarah’s siblings are now even making fun of her about the break-up.
“They are the most loving, supportive bunch but have no bother slagging me either.” says Sarah.
“My sisters told me that if I ever get engaged again — they aren’t giving me any more parties because they said I cost a bomb, and sure they didn’t even get a day out of me!
“The days I broke down, they all picked me back up.”
Sarah, who has been working with Slimming World for the past four years, says she also owes her recovery to her members, who kept her strong and helped her through one of the hardest years of her life.
“I am so thankful for each and every one of them. Like the rest of the world, my business went online in 2020.
“I had hundreds who always wanted to join my group in The Commons, Blackpool, but never could as it wasn’t near them, so moving online gave them an opportunity to join with me.
“I can’t explain how grateful I am for every member who trusted me and transitioned to the online world.
“They have kept me in a job, kept me busy, they have lost weight and I feel like the luckiest person to be a part of it.
“They always say they are grateful for me. Deep down it’s really I’m grateful for them.” she said.
While Sarah credits her members for keeping her on track, she herself is responsible for helping hundreds of others in losing weight by documenting her own weight loss.
So far, she has lost over six stone, going from a size 24 to a size 12.
The saying ‘the best view comes after the hardest climb’ couldn’t be more apt for Sarah. Having had the world pulled out from under her this time last year, the popular blogger now has big ideas for the future and has not allowed the ongoing pandemic rattle her plans, coming back stronger than ever.
“I have dreams of one day having my own cafe on Cook Street in the city,” Sarah says. “I’m drawn to it. It’s a dream I hope one day I will achieve. All in time. Nothing in life comes easy.”
However, the adoring mum’s number one priority is her son Luke, who she credits as her saviour.
“I want to be the best mom I can be and give my boy the childhood full of memories he deserves. My whole world revolves around Luke. My comeback was for him,” she said.
During the upset of the pandemic this time last year, Sarah contemplated moving back into her parents’ house as she was financially struggling, but thankfully, due to a good business head and determination to succeed, the mum is more independent and successful than ever.
“I’m a 30-year-old girl working for myself, paying my way in life,” she said.
“Fast forward a year, I’ve built my savings and kept a roof over our heads. My business is doing well and I believe in my heart that hard work never goes unnoticed. So you have to consistently work. Some nights I stay up working while Luke sleeps just so I get the work done. “
When March 13, and what would have been her one year wedding anniversary, fell a few weeks ago, Sarah said she would mourn what was ‘supposed to be’ more than anything.
“I think the date will always stand out. It will always have the gloom over it.
“Not only was I getting married, but then the pandemic began. I think last year on the day I was due to marry, I just wanted to stay in bed and not get up. I wanted to see no-one.
“This year on March 13 I had no choice in what I could do as we are so restricted, but I do think, even though I have come so far and rebuilt myself completely, that there was a little sadness inside for me that day — for the day it was meant to be.”
Looking back on the past 12 months, Sarah has completely transformed from the person she used to be.
This time last year, she was mending a broken heart — now her Instagram is growing, her business has never been better, and her love for her son Luke is paramount.
Proof that no matter how hard the setback, there’s always a comeback, and she has certainly shown that.