We're all used to hearing stories about the bigwigs, the trailblazers, the who's who. But what about the extraordinary stories of the ordinary people? Most of the time, they get lost in the muddle of all the glitz and glam which is a sad thing because these need to be heard and written about. After all, the everyday people - people like you and me - are the ones who make up majority of humanity's web. So with this blog, I've decided to seek these stories. The ones we can all learn from. The ones that show the rawness, the beauty of human life. Here's my first story.
Life is easier when you have a friend going through the exact same thing, they say. In my case, she’s a thousand miles away. Roseanne is a childhood friend of mine. If someone from the future came up to us while we were playing in the village park and told us of our current situations, we would have laughed it off.
But then after we had that long distance, 2-hour phone call a few weeks ago, I think I’ve found a kindred spirit. The entire conversation left me feeling amazed, to say the least. Not because of the drama and the excitement but because I realized that there is a light in her that is true, and pure, and good. You need to hear her story, listen to her musings. You'll see real love and sacrifice in between the lines. Go, read on.
Roseanne, why did you decide to marry at such a young age? During our phone call, you mentioned that before Nacho, everything revolved around your career. Now, you’re married at 23 years old. What changed?
I love how you made this the first question, hahaha! I think we both know that before we were even presented with this choice of marriage, we already created a plan for ourselves. Well, at least I did. I imagined building my career in the corporate world, taking my Master’s degree, working for every promotion, executing major decisions in a company and eventually starting my own business like my parents did. Marriage and family was an afterthought.
Then here comes Nacho, and there I was not knowing where the relationship was headed. He’s all the way in Spain, long distance is difficult, and I’m too busy having fun at my job. So why did I say yes when he asked me to marry him?
It was clear to me that this was what I wanted. It was as simple as that, I guess. When he proposed, my career didn’t even cross my mind. This just meant so much more to me than my own dreams because I realized I’ve created new ones with him.
So what changed? I guess I did. I changed. My whole perception of life changed - my dreams, priorities, and wants. Long distance may have brought out dark sides of me as I made so many mistakes. I realized I was weak, selfish and immature. Love is about fully giving yourself and forgiving constantly and whole-heartedly. It’s about not expecting anything in return, and having that one goal of making the other happy. That’s what Nacho has given me, and I was sure it was Nacho, to whom I wanted to give it to, as well.
They say the road to marriage is purifying because you shed off a lot of things, give up a lot of your past self for your new one. What have you given up in your marriage with Nacho?
This made me smile. I can imagine everybody thinking, “Okay, boring, we all know this one! It’s all over her Facebook!” Here, I’d like to emphasize that we are from different countries. That meant one of us had to move. So it wasn’t only about giving up a job that I really loved. That alone was already hard to leave, but how about my family, friends, colleagues, my room, my dog- basically, my whole life? With that, I can already say I’ve given up a lot. It was tough leaving my home and literally starting from scratch. I didn’t know anyone and I couldn’t even speak the language. I couldn’t be the “funny, crazy Roseanne” I was in the Philippines. I couldn’t express myself well and because of that I couldn’t work, too.
It is difficult but I am happy. I am so happy to be with Nacho. During the times I just wanted to break down, I prayed a lot and I reminded myself that this is what I wanted. This is my choice and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. The beautiful things outweighed all the ugly ones and that in itself made everything worth it.
We’ve talked about your path to married life. But how is your experience, so far, with married life itself? What are your daily joys, your daily struggles?
The common misconception about getting married is that things between the two of you suddenly change after marriage, but the truth is it doesn’t. My friends would ask me, in their excited voices, ‘So what does it feel like being married?’ I would nonchalantly say, ‘Same old things.’ It’s funny because it’s the people around me who get so overwhelmed by my situation. But honestly, Nacho and I still have our issues, trying our best to work on our relationship.
The difference is that we think as “one” in making decisions, plans and goals - not only physically or professionally, but also mentally and spiritually. I’m also learning to be of service to my spouse, to be submissive to him. People are afraid of that word – submissive – because it connotes inferiority. But that’s far from the truth. One thing that gives me satisfaction is cooking. I never liked it but once I’d see Nacho enjoying what I’ve made, it’s a different feeling. Seeing how happy I can make him with the little things makes me happier. Also, we help each other a lot at home. We both have our little chores. I do the laundry, sometimes I cook and he sets the table, or vice versa.
Throughout these months, we’ve learned a lot from each other. We also have a lot of fun, whether it’s going out to the Spanish bar beside us, or pigging out on popcorn while watching our end-of-the-day movie. The beauty of it is that you enjoy all the little moments with someone at your side.
Struggles I think are pretty obvious. Just like any other couple, we get on each other’s nerves. There are even times when one of us feels unappreciated and we end up reminding each other what we do for the other. The struggle is learning to be selfless. For 22 years, I was living without him and just worrying about myself and all of a sudden I have to give and share everything with him. We also learned that to make room for improvement, there’s got to be a lot of room for patience, humility, adjustment, acceptance and forgiveness. Easier said than done but, it’s a lifetime project, and so is marriage.
We’ve known each other since we were seven years old and I am amazed with everything you have gone through to get to this point. Are you surprised with yourself and your 180-degree change?
Honestly I think it’s not really a change, as if I’m a whole other person, but I think I just grew up. I’m not saying I’m the most mature person on the planet but I’m definitely better than I was before. I realized that respect for myself is so important. How can I expect Nacho to listen to me if I myself can’t get it together? It took me a lot of prayer and prayer, and oh, prayer - seriously! There were times when I just felt like giving up. I would think, ‘Forget it! It’s so hard to be a good person!’ I had zero patience and zero control of my emotions. I drowned myself in self-pity and lost my confidence because I couldn’t find work, my Spanish wasn’t good enough, I felt useless, and I missed home - I felt like I was nothing.
Then I started reading this book that totally helped me: La Libertad Interior. It’s about achieving inner freedom by letting go and letting God. He’s the only one constant thing in my life. Because of that, my whole perspective changed. I saw that everything I have isn’t mine. When I do good, it’s because of Him. When I pray, it’s because He lets me. When I love, it’s because He lets me. I don’t want to sound preachy but I have to share it with everyone else: it feels so good to know that you are truly loved, no matter what.
I don’t know if it was marriage that did this, but I can say I am much happier and more at peace. Not because I got everything I wanted, but because I learned how to trust blindly, quit worrying and just keep trying. So no, I’m not surprised by this “change” because it wasn’t me who did it, it was all Him. In fact, I’m still in progress like we all are. I’m far from being a saint; I still have my weaknesses. I guess what I’m truly surprised with is how happy and safe I feel despite all the problems life may bring.
And this is why I am infinitely proud of her. When I was 23 years old, I wasn't even thinking like this. I wish we lived closer to each other but I've realized that she has become who she is because of the way her life played out, and the way she has embraced every facet - the heavier and lighter bits alike. I'm so happy for you, girl.