Today is my wedding anniversary. We were married for fifteen years before he died, but I still think about him regularly and have much to thank him for. How self-indulgent to write about myself – it is something I never do, but I guess there are times when it is useful to reflect on how far we have come over the years and how much we have others to thank for that journey.
I married Fred when I was twenty four. He proposed after ten days with a gorgeous and unique ring he purchased from a store where they let you design your own engagement rings and we married four months later. I was going out every night when I met him, drinking, clubbing, not really focussed on my career or personal goals. He was many years older than me, charismatic, well read, knew lots about every subject under the sun. I never really understood why he picked me, or what he saw in me. At the time I was rather a loose cannon. I suspect he enjoyed the challenge and hopefully saw the potential.
Meeting him turned out to be the making of me. We played at house for a time and I developed my career, being promoted, doing well, enjoying my job. After awhile we bought the house where I still live. He walked into the house on our first visit and said ‘this is the one’. He took up painting again, his beautiful pictures are still around the house and other people have them too, which is lovely to know.
One day he came home from work and said that he wanted to become a hypnotherapist. That was over twenty years ago. In Britain that was a rather bizarre notion back then. As usual I deferred to his greater understanding of these things and we went along for the initial interview. We both ended up doing the training and he, after a couple of years made it his full time practice while I focussed on developing my career.
When he became unwell I re-did my hypnotherapy training, got a distinction and subsequently took redundancy from my job. Since then I have turned counselling and hypnotherapy into my full time career. I have become a regular guest on BBC Radio and now write articles on the internet. I love what I do, but know that twenty years ago I would never have even thought of this as a career.
I guess the reason for writing this down is a bit like writing an open letter to someone. Acknowledging how different our lives can be because we choose to go somewhere one evening, or say ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’ to a question. Certainly everything I am today has its roots in meeting him, my career, my home, the directions I have taken in my life. I treasure our wedding bands because of what they symbolize: our union.
All I will say to anyone reading this is to value the journey. You never know where it may lead. I really believe that events in our lives happen for a reason. I was widowed at thirty-nine, but the influence of those preceding fifteen years with my husband has stayed with me ever since. Thank you for that. I am a very fortunate person.
Susan Leigh, Counsellor and Hypnotherapist