I’m proud to share that this post was chosen as BlogHer’s 2012 Voices of the Year in the Heart category.
This coming August, my husband and I celebrate our ten year wedding anniversary. It’s a big number. Our journey the past 15 years (that’s how long we’ve known each other) wasn’t always easy. In case you missed it or are new to my blog, I married a black man, much to the disappointment of my parents.
Looking back to the early years of our relationship, I’m surprised we even stayed together. I kept the fact that I was dating him from my parents for the first 3 years of our relationship. Sneaking around almost tore us apart. He couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to tell my parents. He was hoping once they got to know him, they would like him. Instead they disowned me when they found out we were dating.
I know we all want to believe that love conquers everything. Love makes the world go round, things like that. When you’re young and in love with someone your family hates, it’s scary. No matter how strong a person is, knowing that you won’t have your family’s support is scary. That’s when you’re not sure if love really does win over everything. Real life is never like the movies. Happy endings don’t come easy.
Imagine being 18 or even 20 (like I was). After months or years of sneaking around, your relationship is at a crossroads. Time to make your relationship legitimate. Time to tell the world. Playing Romeo and Juliet is wearing off. Would you tell your family about your boyfriend or girlfriend, knowing that they vehemently disapprove of him or her? Knowing they’ve threatened to kill you or disown you if you ever brought home a black, Indian, white, Hispanic, etc boyfriend?
When I explained to my friends what the possible consequences would be if I came clean to my parents, they didn’t believe me. No way, they told me. They’re your parents. They love you no matter what. Even my husband didn’t think it was possible.
I felt so alone. By telling the truth, my entire world was about to change. It sounds dramatic, but my heart knew what was on the line. Was I ready to give up my family to be with a person I had only known for 3 years? A man I loved. But was it enough? Was love really enough?
Obviously, I chose true love. It’s incredibly romantic, right? We got married, have two beautiful kids, blah blah, happily ever after.
The 3 years leading up to our wedding were so incredibly hard. I’m happy that we lived a thousand miles away from my parents then. I didn’t have to worry about running into them at my cousins’ home or at the grocery stores. On holidays, my husband convinced me-no guilted me, not that it was his intention-to call my parents. Wish them Happy Birthday or Merry Christmas. Every call ended with me sobbing, ugly crying on my couch. He would then hold me tight and whisper how sorry he was he made me call them. Rinse and repeat for each phone call.
He didn’t make me call them. Each phone call to my parents was really about hope. If I give them just one more chance, they’ll come around. They won’t beg me to dump my fiance’. They won’t tell me what a disappointment I am to them. They won’t hang up on me. Was it worth the heartache? The tears? For a sliver of hope they maybe I wasn’t a total failure to them. I didn’t become an engineer or a doctor or a computer geek. Now I run off to live with a black man.
When my extended family and my sister finally convinced them to attend our wedding (a mere month before the event), my father didn’t look happy. He looked resigned. I think they hoped I would eventually leave my husband if they held out. By this point, my mom was just happy to be able to see me and talk to me. Maybe my father got badgered into attending our wedding. Except he’s not that kind of person to be badgered into something.
I guess my parents finally decided that they would rather have me in their lives than not at all.
Our journey was not picture perfect. Looking back, yes, I can say that love did win. Once we had kids, my husband was the golden child. They finally called him by name instead of That Black Guy. Now they see him for the amazing person he is.
Was marrying a black man worth it for me? Yes. Even in my darkest moments, my husband was always there for me. It hurt him to see me so sad. He felt responsible for my pain. His shoulders soaked up my tears as his arms held me up. I’m stronger because of his love.
Not everyone is this lucky. Not everyone is this strong. Not everyone has the stamina to keep fighting. Not everyone has a shoulder to cry on.
What if you choose love but it turns out he wasn’t your true love? Do you go running back with your tail between your legs? Scared doesn’t even begin to describe it.
I’m glad I can say it was all worth it. Choosing between someone who makes you happy or the family that raised you to become who you are is not a choice to make lightly. It worked out for me.
If you chose your family, I’m not going to judge you. Seeing my husband dancing with the kids makes every tear I shed worth it. I can honestly say I could not see that image at the end of the tunnel during that tumultuous point of my life. I had no idea how my life would be like in 10 years.
Whomever you choose, know this: Love isn’t black and white (pun not intended). There is no right or wrong. Love is taking a chance and hoping that you win the lottery.
Happy Valentine’s Day.