Today is a special day. One which I celebrate love and union. Promises of the future and shared dreams. 9 years ago today, I got married. Some would call it the beginning of a lifetime, or maybe the transition into something bigger than us. It is a memory I cherish as if it was yesterday. I don’t remember many things that happened in the last 5 years, but I do remember that one day, 9 years ago. Memory has these things. Hard to forget the wedding day right? If you think this is about my wedding day, don’t hold your hopes up, I am going to keep that in our memory box with those that were there. What this is though is a reflection of how I have changed because Hubby B had me say yes.
A Hymn to Joy
Our wedding day was a joyful day. We had thunderstorms, flooded food and broken dishes. That did not abate us or those around us. Looking back, I can see how that was one of the few days of my life where I worried about us only. Unusual for the carer in me. And unheard of for the most of part of the rest of my life. Maybe that is why I had so much fun, because I did not care about anything else other than the joy that I was feeling. All the details were important but then not really anymore. The sublime union was what marked my memory forever. Not the candles or the flowers (though I have them vividly in my memory).
Our family and friends made this the most special day. In all the weddings I have attended through the years, there was a key factor that has always made the difference. The sheer joy of the bride and groom and the contagion they were able to impose on those around them. I must say, the contagion was at a peak. Ask those that said they would leave early and could not leave the dance floor late into the night.
The joy of finding love
When one grows up, one tends to talk about children, couples, parenting, work, self-development (if you are lucky), health and death. One often forgets to talk about the time when LOVE was found. But love is indeed this mysterious thing that needs to be found. And is worth talking about. So maybe this is the declaration of love I have not written about before.
How did we find each other? An ocean away, in Boston. You are thinking – MBA, well Sara that makes me think of the song “you find love in a hopeless place“. Well, I prefer “it was written in the stars” better, maybe just because we had every chance to meet before and we just didn’t. We went to school together. We had common friends. And Hubby B was funny enough the person that called me to congratulate me getting into HBS and the one offering to help me with logistics. The Portuguese guy. Little did I know.
So when after friendship we found love, it almost felt obvious. Well, others said it was obvious before but we reserve the right to confirm we only saw it when it hit us.
So what is the big story
You need to go back in time to understand the change that occurred. I grew up with little concept of self-worth. Hard to say why, or maybe easy to understand. Probably product for a full article.
For many years the youngest in the family I was often in a bubble that helped shelter me from being limited by that lack of self-worth, but I am certain I did not have much of it. With one exception – school. I excelled in school and sports and I had no shame about it. However, I often did not understand the science of friendships. I don’t think that helped. On the other hand, it was easy for me to add friends. I was easy going and in fact, just went along with the people that I valued. Always hating conflict, I was probably at times easy to be around. Not sure, you may have to ask my friends.
It was not until I was 21 that I took the first big step for myself. And all in 18 months, I broke up a long term relationship, went into exchange program, became popular in Uni, got a job in London and went volunteering in Mozambique. I mean any of these would have made the story of the year. And all it took was one step to say “I love me more (maybe)”.
That one step propelled me into an almost 10 years of a new life where I had to rediscover myself. Who was I really, what did I value, what did I like, who did I want to be friends with, what did I want to be when I grew up? I became this outwardly confident investment banker, excelling at my job and the epicenter of my social group. My old self still admittedly craved a partner in crime, but I found a new form of self worth that did not depend on someone else’s love. I did not measure it highly, but at least it was starting to be there.
By the time I got to Harvard, I was able to portray huge amounts of confidence, and impostor syndrome did not prevent me from performing. And I did not doubt (too much) my worth in being there. Still to this day, I don’t know how my brain worked. I could tell all the different pieces that I did were pretty cool (in my scale) but I did not see how that made me a better person. Writing my Harvard essays was one of the most painful experiences and one that I would not have done without my tough mentor who told me “only you don’t see it” when I claimed what he wanted me to write was not that important.
By the time I met Hubby B I was in a good place. It is hard not to be when you are in HBS surrounded with incredible people and living the student life having accumulated a banker’s salary. What is there not to like right? (let’s not talk about the amount of people that require therapy to cope with this when they get there).
As our friendship turned to love there was a sentence Hubby B said that was glued in my mind for years to come. He valued that I was independent. For years, this scared me. I was obsessed about not being dependent, not showing dependency, and frustrated when I thought I might be failing that. It took me years to understand that it meant he valued me as a person, independent, with my own thoughts. I did not know that was a thing I guess.
My Best Supporter
During the last 13 years, Hubby B has stuck to his beliefs. The value he puts in me is exponential and gives me wings in a way that I did not think I would ever aspire. His belief in me is extraordinary, it’s like there is nothing I can not do in his eyes. I can come up with the most ridiculous idea and he will be the first one to say yes. I can give him all the reasons why I am not worthy of something and list me back all the reasons why I am.
In 2015, I got to a dark place. It’s like it caught up with me. Years of fear and doubt accumulated and whenever someone would tell me “wow, how do you do all these things”, I would get angry inside. At the first chance I would look at myself in the mirror and think “they have no idea, I am such a fraud, I can’t do anything right”. The perfectionism anxiety got the best of me and I suffered from depression. Once again, love got me out. Love for my children, friends and family, but most importantly unconditional love from Hubby B, and the unabated belief that this too would pass.
I will never forget the evening 2 years ago, when I stared at my journal and said to the air “I am not that bad, maybe I can even be pretty amazing sometimes”. Hubby B looked at me in disbelief. I retracted, thinking maybe I said something wrong. And then:
You only just realised this, didn’t you. 37 Years Later.Hubby B
Yap, I did.Me
Because You Love me
I turn to you now. I know you don’t like the public lights so I keep you out of most of what I write and always with light notes. But love is not a light note. And a love like this is not one either. Through the years of love and support I have grown to be myself, I have learnt to be myself, I have found what it means to be myself. Not for you, for me. Granted, that is not always nice to you, especially when I am “too” opinionated or fight our divergences. But I have reached myself because you love me. I have reached independence because you love me. I can fly now. And that feels nice. Thank you. With much love.