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Saturday, 7 September 2013

Choices, Honesty and Hindsight

Today's post is written with the wonderful thing that is hindsight. And also an enormous amount of honesty. As those of you who regularly read my blog will know, I have been wrestling with thoughts of missed opportunities and how the choices I have made have impacted what my life looks like now. You will also know that I have no regrets, and that by considering what I might have missed out on, has enabled me to realise that I have by far the best outcome.

I am now 34 weeks pregnant, and my hormones are in full swing when it comes to giving me vivid dreams. I have found that over the last few weeks I have been dreaming about things that are obviously on my mind but perhaps subconsciously.

I woke up this morning from another very vivid dream. After Mr Strong and I had recently had a conversation about "broken families" (I hate that term!) and what can go wrong in a marriage if one person doesn't do what is right, I found myself dreaming about relationship breakdown. If I'm completely honest, this has been something I have dreamt about an awful lot recently, and I think that is most likely because I couldn't be without Mr Strong!!

In my late teens / early twenties, I had two relationships which I considered serious at the time. The first was with J, a boy who I was part of the same friendship group as during sixth form. He was considered one of the "bad boys" and made me laugh, and I was shocked when it turned out he liked me! I was a bit of a geek, overweight and generally not cool!lol! (Some things never change!) We started going out and when I told my parents, my Dad strictly forbid me to go out with him - something he hadn't ever done before, probably because J was the first boyfriend I took home! J was not a Christian, and my parents had a strong belief that I should be with a nice Christian boy.

For the first time, I went against my parents wishes and carried on going out with J anyway and we were together for about a year if I remember right. J lived with his older brother, his Mum had moved abroad with her partner and his Dad lived in another county. They didn't have much money as they supported themselves, living in a rented house which was not in great condition, and generally their life circumstances weren't what my parents wanted for me, as much as they had grown to like J.

The relationship ended when my best school friend at the time had realised that J wasn't happy any more and was considering breaking up with me. She persuaded him that if he wasn't happy he should break up with me there and then, and she comforted him in his decision. It turned out my best school friend liked J herself, and had done before we had started going out. A day or so after we had broken up, me still being really upset, she asked if she could have my blessing to go out with him!!!!!! He thought he liked her and wanted to give it a go. I said I couldn't stop her, but that ended our friendship almost instantly. I never spoke to her again, and her and J were together for a few years before it ended, as I knew it would eventually.

My next serious relationship was just before I went to Uni, and came unexpectedly. A group of us from our church friendship group hired a caravan at a Butlins site and went away together. Myself and another girl were in the double bedroom and all the boys slept on the lounge floor or in the twin room as church protocol called for separation of boys and girls. A new boy to the group, and to the church was invited, and he barely spoke English. His name was H and he was from South America. He was funny, and different, and a Christian, and I had always wanted to be with someone who wasn't English!

Over the few days we were away, he made it clear that he liked me and after seeking my friends advice, we started going out. My parents were very dubious, although he was a Christian, but thought it would fizzle out. My Dad helped him when it came to him wanting to work in this country after his Visa was permitted. He sorted out tax codes and NI, and my parents came to really like him but with doubts still in the back of their minds. H very quickly became a good English speaker and now you wouldn't know he had arrived knowing very little.

We continued our relationship into my first year of Uni, and had spoken about him wanting to return to his home country one day. I had agreed that if he wanted to he could, and I would stay and finish my degree and then join him. In my mind, I would marry H, and had started to learn Portuguese, his own language. The relationship came to an abrupt end when he decided he wanted to end it, and broke my heart.

The following day he had realised that he had made a huge mistake and so we carried on going out for a couple of weeks. During this time, I became bottom priority, and he had made a number of mistakes during our relationship. He had come out on an important birthday night out and drank so much alcohol he was almost paralytic despite me warning him he was over doing it. He had also been out dancing with other women and to this day I am not sure he was faithful. After the two weeks of not knowing whether he could be bothered to come and see me at Uni, I ended the relationship for good. I was beyond heart broken, despite knowing it was the right thing to do.

It sounds so juvenile in hindsight, and I know that although I thought I loved them, it was nothing compared to how I felt when I met Mr Strong. I know that if I had married either of them, it wouldn't have lasted, and the relationship would have become self destructive. I dreamt last night that I was in one of these relationships, experiencing it's breakdown, and woke up feeling dread and despair. Thank goodness I quickly realised it was a dream, and my reality was a completely different story!!!!

I learnt a great deal from both of those relationships, but I also gathered a huge amount of emotional baggage in the process, something which I had to battle with during the time Mr Strong and I were together in the early days, and to a certain extent, the first year or so of our married life.

Mr Strong was my parents dream, a nice Christian man, a few years old than me. Owned a house, a car, had a good professional job, had good prospects and was from a good Christian family. We often joke about our "first date" - the first time I had ever gone on a date, let alone been picked up, and the family "welcome" Mr Strong received (my Mum blurted out that I wanted 6 children - something I neither wanted nor had EVER said - majorly awkward moment in which I thought my chance had been lost - but that's another story!). My mum recalls knowing when Mr Strong turned up on the doorstep, and replying that he knew I was out but could he have a word, that he wanted to marry me. They couldn't say Yes quick enough!!

If you'd have told me during either of the relationships with J or H, that I would end up with someone as wonderful as Mr Strong, or have told me that in our first 5 years of marriage we would have 3 children, I wouldn't have believed you. The choices we make have huge repercussions, most of which we have no idea about. We can't predict the future, and we most certainly don't have all the facts each time we make important choices in our lives, but we do know what is the right choice to make.

I thank God that He guides me in which choice is right, and I am even more thankful that He closes doors on certain things when needed. In hindsight, I honestly don't regret those two earlier relationships, because although I came away hurt and damaged, I learnt some of my most important lessons from them. And if I hadn't, I wouldn't have taken a chance on Mr Strong - who will always be, in my eyes, just too good for me to deserve. I thank God, that He gives us far more than we deserve on a daily basis, in the full knowledge of who we are, our faults, our weaknesses, our downfalls, yet He still loves to lavish His blessing on us anyway.

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