When she was just a girl,
She expected the world,
But it flew away from her reach,
So she ran away in her sleep, and dreamed of
Para-para-paradise, para-para-paradise, para-para-paradise,
Every time she closed her eyes…
Three years ago my husband and I had our first dance as husband and wife on our wedding day – July 24th, 2015. The song we chose was a bit unorthodox – “Paradise” by Coldplay – but we truly couldn’t have selected a better song to begin the journey of our life together. For me this was the happy ending I had always envisioned, but never thought possible. However this fairy tale finale was actually a beginning – the first chapter of a magical life that we were going to create together, and slowly but surely, brick by brick, we have begun building the paradise I always dreamed of. But boy boy… did it take some work to get here. My wedding speech that day started like this: “Nothing worth having comes easy. And the harder it is to get what you’re working towards, the more you can appreciate the fruits of your labor.” Nothing could be more true for my husband and I, and our journey to get where we are today.
When I first met Sain, we were in our early-mid twenties but I laughingly say we were “just a couple of kids” – because mentally, we really were! Both of us were immature, in different ways, but knew that we had a ton of fun, were in love, and enjoyed each other immensely, like most young love. However our fancy-free dating life was cut short after about a year when my husband lost his father quite suddenly – just as I had 4 years earlier- and the dynamic of our relationship drastically changed. Gone were the days of laughter and joy; my husband had so much pain in his heart, especially seeing the gut wrenching ache of his mother and siblings dealing with the loss. His father was an amazing person (Allah Yerhamo, may he rest in peace with God), and this loss had a major impact on Sain. Because I had been through something similar we clung to each other during this time; I would try my best to understand what he was feeling and going through; his sadness, his anger, the unfairness of it all, and his inability to communicate all these feelings to me. But brick by brick, as I helped him slowly patch up the missing piece he has lost in his heart, he slowly healed from this terrible tragedy. And we realized that through this experience we had actually grown closer, stronger, and become something way more than just “boyfriend and girlfriend” – he was beyond just a lover, or best friend – he was undeniably my soulmate. The one you don’t get to chose – the one that God has written for you.
Easy, right?! Get married, have kids, and live happily ever after. Well, we still had some more hurdles to overcome – one being the very heavy emotional baggage I was carrying around with me (see my previous post on this) that was serving as a well guarded roadblock for us to truly get where we needed to be. Throughout the beginning of our relationship, with every milestone we hit I would get terrified and retreat, like a turtle going back into it’s shell, where it knew it would be protected and safe. Alone and isolated, yes – but safe. I would push and push him, testing my limits and threatening to leave or end it if things weren’t perfect with us, mainly I think because subconsciously I feared that he was going to leave me first. It took me so long to allow myself to be loved and accept love properly, and even longer for him to finally work his way into my trust zone. I didn’t know what real, pure love was – I was so used the manipulation and control I had experienced growing up being intertwined with it – and felt that there would always strings attached, ones that could be cut if I was ever to show my true self, open my heart and let him in. But patiently, brick by brick, he slowly dismantled the wall I had built up around myself, so sturdy and high from years of hurt, pain and fear I’d endured. He patiently sat by me – just as I had sat beside him – and proved himself, letting me figure out my feelings and confusion, until every single brick has been tore down. And there we were, him and I, at the very bottom… our foundations exposed, and ready to start building again – together this time.
And so we did. Trust me, there were other obstacles – amalgamating families from two different cultures was not easy – I’ll be writing more about how we made it work in a later post – but compared to what we’d been through, that shit was a walk in the park! Seven years together and three years of marriage later we have experienced so much more than either of us could have imagined on that day we danced together, dreaming of our future. He helps me pursue my goals and I support his. We challenge each other – he holds me accountable if any of my old, unhealthy thoughts start creeping in, helps me stand up for myself and know my self worth; I push him to communicate and make sure we stay connected, and be the best man, husband and father he can be. We are a team, him and I, building our kingdom and family based on sacrifice, hard work, integrity and love, and I could’t dream of spending the rest of my days in our humble little paradise with anyone else.
The purpose of this slightly cheesy post was to not only wish my wonderful husband a happy anniversary, but to serve as a reminder anyone who is reading this, in case you need to hear these words today: It’s ok if you aren’t where you want to be quite yet – because nothing worth having comes easy, or is built overnight. In life, whether it be your career, education, a relationship; building a house or building a family, losing weight/getting healthy, raising your children etc. there will be highs and lows, mountains and valleys, in the journey to get to your destination. How much more do you appreciate the hill you’re proudly standing on if you’ve sat in the valley below, staring up and dreaming of being up there, after all the hard work of the climb? Or in our case, maybe it’s hurdles that you need to overcome. I truly believe that I have been assigned the mountains in my life to show others that they can, in fact, be moved. Also, sometimes the route that looks or seems the easiest isn’t always the way to go. Hard work, perseverance and dedication are all things that take a lot of effort but in my experience pay off tenfold. I would go through every single thing I’ve ever been through in my life, a hundred times again, just to look at those two beautiful, smiling little faces every day. And I mean that. Sometimes I think I love them even a little bit more because of the struggle, to be honest. So just remember that when life closes a door, don’t give up – look for an open window, check the lock on that door again, or grab a sledge hammer and smash that door down yourself. You can have pretty much anything you want in life, if you don’t give up on what you know feels right. And someday, hopefully, brick by brick, you can build a beautiful little paradise of your own.