A marriage, a union between two people who want to spend the rest of their lives together. That’s what marriage is and I truly believe that when you find the right person, it is the culmination of all that you are and all that you will become as a pair. A good marriage – that kind of love is incredible to me, and I never thought I would ever experience anything like it. I honestly believed that it was something that happened to everyone else.
I didn’t end up developing the best perception of love growing up. My parents divorced when I was 14 years old and suffice to say that it was messy, painful and tore my entire world apart. With a family that was trying to make the best of a terrible situation with everyone in pieces, I retreated into myself and stayed there.
I hid away the truest parts of myself. The parts of me that were hurt, scared and had lost control, they were buried deep inside.
I put on a smile so those who cared for me wouldn’t worry. I played at being me. I realise now I thought that if I worked really hard at pretending everything was okay that maybe I might just believe it enough to make it be true. I did that for the next four years of my life.
As I turned 18, university was on the horizon and I was excited and nervous but also ready to fly the nest. Once I was away from home, where no one really knew me, my emotional mask began to slip. It was like four years of suppressed emotion all converged on me at once, the flood gates had been opened and there was no going back. Trouble was, I didn’t know what to do with myself and it took a lot of wrong turns and leaving the summer term early for me to slowly begin to start piecing myself back together.
That particular year was one of the worst years of my life, but little did I know I had already met the person who was going to heal me and in so doing, change my life forever.
His name was Matt and our eyes had first met over the musical score for Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore. I can still remember the first time we really talked. When it wasn’t about university work, the play, music or books, when we were open and honest talking about our lives and our pasts. We were sitting in the university pub, with the rest of the cast, it was a few drinks in, the music and conversation were loud but it felt like we were the only two people in the room.
Still, I didn’t see what was right in front of me, and even when he first asked me out, I turned him down, ignoring the small corner of my heart that wanted to say yes. I was afraid, afraid of letting anyone in. I felt broken and damaged and didn’t believe that anyone else needed to be a part of that. But it would turn out that fate had other ideas.
Matt and I became friends and decided to share a house with some other students in our second year of University. I arrived early and he did too. A week before in fact. It was like someone had turned on a light switch. We became close and suddenly everything changed. Three months later in our friends flat, he turned to me and said “I love you”.
As cliché as it sounds, my heart leaped in my chest and I knew I loved him too. That’s not to say that everything went smoothly from there, there were definitely a few bumps in the road and a fair few doors were slammed after heated conversations. But each time it seemed to make us stronger, instead of running as soon as things got difficult, I found myself wanting to work at it, talk things through and communicate.
At about eight months into our relationship, I just knew that he was ‘the one’; that I wanted to be his wife and spend the rest of my life with him. At the time, I scribbled this thought down into my diary, and amidst all the hopes and dreams I had for my life – I had begun to see ‘us’ as a future.
The thing that really made it real for me was that he knew me. Every single part of me, even the parts I had tried to hide from myself. He drew them out and loved me still. I was more myself than I had ever been before and for the first time in my life I didn’t feel the need to hide. I was free.
Nearly six years has gone by since our first date and I fall in love with him a little more every day. In a little over a year’s time I will walk down the aisle with my dad, look into Matt’s eyes and say ‘I do’. I am crying even just imagining that amazing moment.
So when things in the planning process go wrong, or family thoughts and ideas make everything seem a mess, I remember back to when I was in a big tangled emotional mess of my own, and the love of a remarkable man was all it took to sort it all out. In writing this ‘from the heart’ piece today, I want my message to you to be to treasure the love that you have found, revel in it, drink it all in. Don’t let the whirlwind of wedding decisions and stress detract from the wonderful thing that you are about to enter into and the reason you are entering into it in the first place. A marriage and a lifetime of experiencing the beautiful thing that is being in love.
The author of this feature would prefer to remain anonymous but is one of our lovely blog readers who has asked to contribute to our ‘From The Heart’ Sunday series, where we hand the blog back over to our readers to write about all matters of love and life. If you would like to contribute a From The Heart piece, we would dearly love to hear from you. It doesn’t matter what it’s about and it doesn’t have to be related to weddings at all – we’re looking for honest, authentic, personal, sad, happy, family, relationship, marriage, health, light-hearted, serious, baby, trying for baby, children, career, simple, complicated – real life issues. We just need you to write from your heart. Keep it upbeat and witty, or share your thoughts anonymously on a more challenging or emotional subject. Please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Love Annabel x