A while ago I started to write an autobiographical account of how Anne-Marie and I met. I have kept postponing this next part, because it has become rather fuzzy in my mind over the years, and I didn’t keep very good journal records back then. Thankfully, Anne-Marie did, and last week I found an electronic backup of all our Instant Messaging conversations and email exchanges. So, using my memory and these resources, I will attempt to retrace these early events.
Before I proceed, I need to make a correction. According to Anne-Marie’s journal, I proposed to her on the 18th of February, not the 14th. There had been an exchange of letters containing hints, during the days leading up to the proposal. Neither of us is certain of the exact date, but that isn’t really important in the grand scheme of things.
Telling my parents
During the two weeks leading up to the proposal, I was living at my parent’s home and had been spending more and more time on the Internet at bizarre hours (after midnight). I think they believed I was playing computer games online, but the Internet was expensive back then (think 56k modem), and we were paying by the minute, not once per call. As our relationship grew strong and I started to think about marriage, I became more and more uneasy about telling my parents what was happening.
Once I had proposed to her, reality hit me like a ton of bricks. No one in my family knew anything about this relationship. I had never dated any girl, and Internet relationships were almost unheard of back then (at least in France). I started to get strong anxiety at the thought of telling my parents. I didn’t fear their response, I just feared the embarrassment. The longer I waited, the more stressed I became, to the point of feeling physically sick. After a few days I decided that I was being stupid, and that I would eventually need to tell them, so I should do it sooner rather than later.
I couldn’t bring myself to sitting down with my parents and explaining my decision to them. I had never felt comfortable sharing my intimate feelings with them, and even after a 2-year mission, things were not very different. So I decided to write my mum a short letter explaining as much as I could in it, so I wouldn’t need to explain it verbally. I then walked into my mum’s bedroom, told her I had something for her to read, left the letter on the bed and quickly left the room, walked downstairs, sat on the couch and waited for everything to start happening.
Looking back on this event, I can see why it was so difficult to do. This was the psychological shift between the surreal, fantasy-like relationship I had developed with Anne-Marie, and the hard reality that I was going to get married during that year. Telling my parents was the decision to make everything official, to change from the private to the public, to put into action the most important decision of my life. I guess that part of me wanted the romance to continue like a fictional drama, a private fantasy that validated my yearnings to be wanted, accepted and trusted. I also didn’t want people to judge Anne-Marie, and felt that there was no possible way they could understand how deep our relationship was, and how I had come to make this life-changing decision in so short a time.
As I sat on that couch, sweating and not knowing what to expect, I said a silent prayer that my parents would accept my choice. Then I heard my mum rush down the stairs, and the embarrassment began… She was crying, of course, and gave me a big hug, to the great bewilderment of my brothers who were doing various things around the house. I can’t remember what was said, except that one of my brothers stood there looking very confused, after everything had been explained, and asked “What is going on?”, at which we had to re-explain everything.
As it turned out, both my parents were extremely supportive of my choice, to a degree that surprised me. They immediately started to make preparations, and wanted to get as involved as possible with it all. They didn’t question my decision, once I explained to them that I felt inspired to do what I was doing. My brothers, as usual, didn’t say much about it. We never talked about emotions back then, and we still don’t do it much today.
Once that episode was over, I felt immensely relieved, and was glad to be able to share some of this journey with my family.
Our initial decision was for me to come over to Australia to visit and spend some time with Anne-Marie. However, during the next few days, as we prayed about it we didn’t feel right, it didn’t seem like the best decision. We talked about it some more, and after a few initial plans, decided that she would come over around July, spend a few months with my family, and then we would get married civilly in France (required by law), then sealed for time and eternity in the London temple the following day.
The big problem with that plan, as you might astutely deduce, was the wait! 6 long months of Internet correspondence before we could finally meet in the flesh, what an agony! And indeed it was, but we didn’t really have much choice. To alleviate the pangs of separation, we decided to call each other on the phone from time to time. Our first phone call was on the 24th of March 2000. We talked for an hour and a half, and it was a wonderful experience, adding yet another dimension to our relationship.
On this point I need to expound a bit. I assume that for most couples who end up marrying each other, the relationship begins with the physical attraction, as they first see each other and appreciate each other’s look. Then the social, emotional and finally spiritual dimensions of the relationship tend to develop, although not all of them do. I certainly remember “falling in love” a few times in my school years with beautiful girls, although my feelings were always unilateral 🙂
For Anne-Marie and I, the relationship started almost immediately with the spiritual. We prayed together, fasted together, shared our most intimate feelings with each other long before we had any sort of physical attraction to each other. Because of this, when the time came to meet each other in the flesh, we already knew each other extremely well. I will get back to this topic later, it is quite interesting and difficult to describe.
Returning to the waiting, these 6 months were a real torture. We loved each other beyond the ability of any word to describe, we felt a kinship and a bond that was unlike anything we had ever experienced. We knew we could trust each other with anything, even our own lives. We longed to be with each other, to spend time doing things together instead of just communicating by written text. It was so difficult.
In the next part, I will tell about the incredible chain of events that started when Anne-Marie landed in Paris and culminated in our wedding and arrival in Australia. Don’t worry, you won’t have to wait too long for this cliff-hanger, not more than a week or two 🙂