Earlier today, I got down on bended knee and requested permission to spend the rest of my life with the woman of my dreams. It is the highest honour bestowed upon me that my proposal was accepted.
This is actually one of the hardest blogs I’ve ever had to write, because I can’t write everything I want to write. If I did, then it would be impossible for me to come up with a speech on my wedding day that didn’t just feel like a tribute of this journal entry, so I am limited in what I can say. The other reason it is so difficult is that, surprisingly for someone who writes about so much of his life and his emotions, I don’t really know what to say. Truth be told, I’m a bit overwhelmed with joy.
It’s no secret that, six years ago, I was sectioned after driving myself insane in an attempt to find some deeper truth, some grand revelation. When I was in the hospital, scared out of my wits, what kept me going was faith; not in God, but in love. Faith that there was a purpose for me in the world. Faith that there was someone out there I was destined to find. Faith that, one day, my fear would be washed away by love. I believe every decision everyone makes can be broken down to a choice between fear and love, of some description, that the most complex, unsolvable circumstances can be deciphered by working out the binary combination of two options – the one that represents fear, and the one that represents love. In that hospital room, I swore to myself that my life would be spent serving the grandest force of all, rather than the succumbing to the fears that had guided my first thirty years. I surrendered myself to love’s power, and I swore that I would retain my faith that, eventually, the universe would guide me to her, whomever she may be.
I spent the next four years putting the rest of my life in order. Nineteen months after I got out of the hospital, I returned to work under the supervision and guidance of my brother and Nick. I knew that, to find the love I desired, I needed to find my way back into employment. I needed to be a man that could offer his fair share, who could – in a time of crisis – be financially able to take care of the situation. I didn’t want a dependant partner, but I needed to be dependable. My brother and Nick provided the avenue to resolving that aspect of my life. When the company chose to make me redundant a year later, I left with a little bit of money in the bank, and I went into new employment by returning to the care industry.
Accepting this job offer was further evidence of becoming closer to the man I needed to be to be ready for her when she came into my life. For one, the care industry was a massive contributor to the mental degradation that resulted in my being sequestered to Whitehaven mental hospital. When I left the hospital, I swore I would never again return to care work, but my options were few, and I was not prepared to allow my life – and my savings – to be frittered away due to being scared of doing a job I did very well for a decade. So, upon being offered the job, I accepted, and resolved to find a way to make it work. That’s what the man I needed to be would have done, so that’s what I forced myself to do, however trepidatious I was. Four years on, I am still in the role, and I thoroughly enjoy my work, and the freedom working 24-hour shifts affords me for the rest of my life.
The second reason this job demonstrated how much closer I was getting to being the man I needed to be was that it was offered to me by two new friends. I was not a person to make new friends; paranoid, wary, defensive, someone like me was unable to trust enough to accept new people into my life. It started when my cousin, Burnsy, invited me to play on the darts team. This led to me, following my uncle dropping out of the trip, being invited to go and watch the darts at Blackpool. The only caveat was that I had to go with two people I didn’t know. Now, this was nearly a breaking point for me, a man still somewhat fearful of what the world could throw at me. The person I needed to be, however, would not shy away from the possibility of friendship; he’d take the chance and go on the trip. So that’s what I did, and I made two new friends – two friends who, when I had a massive panic attack at the start of the third day of the trip, sat with me in the hotel room until I was calm, and until I was no longer convinced I was on the verge of dying. It was these two friends – the Baxter’s – who offered me the job with in the care industry, and who remain both my employers and my pals to this day. By choosing to reject the fearful option, my world expanded, and I moved closer to being who I needed to be for the as-yet unknown woman I had faith I would meet.
Upon returning from a group holiday with Burnsy, the Baxter’s, Sarah and Rob, I went for a drink with Burnsy on a Friday afternoon. As I walked into the bar, I saw Her. My god, she was beautiful. I tried to speak, but I stumbled over my words, to her and Burnsy’s amusement. I managed to stagger out a few words of stilted conversation, but the butterflies I hadn’t felt in years made normal speech impossible, and my loss of composure inevitable. Sitting in the beer garden with Burnsy, I wished I could’ve spoke normally, but it was too late by then. Finishing my drink and going to meet Jeeves to film the video for The Stewart Pretender, I couldn’t get her out of my mind. I sent her a text message, saying it was nice to speak to her, and I hoped her shift went okay. The reply I received later that night was simple, straightforward and to-the-point: ‘Do you want to go for coffee?’ This was the biggest sign. Lying in that hospital bed, four years earlier, I resolved that I would sort myself out, and then have faith in love enough that it would find me. I became the man I needed to be, and my faith in love was rewarded when it found me. Of course, I said yes.
This morning, it was my turn to ask the question. It’s something we’ve talked about a lot, it’s something I knew she wanted, and yet, there’s nothing quite like the nerves of getting down on one knee and requesting permission to spend your life with the woman of your dreams. You know, whatever the answer to the question, everything will change forever. Standing next to her, I nearly backed out of asking, I nearly put it off for another day. There’s no rush, I told myself. Just ask another day. I chose not to give in to those doubts. I chose to place my faith in love … I chose to place my faith in her love. The reward for that faith was her offering her heart, her soul and her future to me. It’s an offering I shall never take for granted, and I shall always cherish.
There is more I wish to say, so much more, but this journal is not the place for those words. Indeed, those words aren’t to be read, but to be said aloud, for her and our guests to hear, when the fateful day comes. To be loved by her, and her two wonderful children, is the greatest honour I have ever been afforded, and the greatest responsibility I have ever accepted. It’s one I embrace with eyes wide open, and it’s one I am truly blessed to receive.
My heart is theirs. My life is hers. For now, and forever.
I love you, Hazel. Thank you for loving me.
Song of the Chapter:
‘Stand Inside Your Love’ by Smashing Pumpkins
Quote of the Chapter:
"Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won't adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The words "make" and "stay" become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached.
I love you for free."
"One of the most insightful works I've read on mental health problems in men ... very well-written and a real page-turner. I would recommend it to anyone.
Dancing With Disorder
"It communicates a deep understanding of troubled individuals who suffer from the challenges of mental disorders ... Courageous, wise, humorous and thought-provoking ... an easy-to-read, surprising and subtly moving chronicle.
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