You have to read this unbelievable story of how Scott Sonnon met the love of his life. And how he almost let her get away.
The night I met my future wife, a gun had been held to my head. Friends of hers had invited her to a party at my college apartment, hosted by my roommates. From my training, I unconsciously snatched the weapon from the gunman’s hand, yelling for him and his henchmen to leave. As they cautiously backed out the door hands held high, I threw the handgun out after them, and slammed the door, yelling, “And don’t come back!”
Turning around, my friends screamed, “Why did you throw the gun back to them???” I hadn’t even recognized that I had taken it from him, much less thrown it back at him. My body started to uncontrollably shake, and my friends pulled me the back room to hide my near-catatonic body and call the police.
Fortunately, my future wife had already left my apartment, and I didn’t officially meet her for another two years, in 1994, when she had signed up for my martial art school. She quickly excelled and became a national champion Sambo fighter within a year. Her technique was magical. It was hard for me to not be distracted by the messenger of that movement.
We had an unstated magnetism between us. But as a policy I avoided romantic relationships as they’re unfair between “coach” and “athlete.” So two years after she had begun, she walked into my office departing for university on the opposite side of the country. Slamming her fist on my desk she asked, “So that’s IT? You have nothing to say to me?” I replied that I couldn’t as it would be dishonorable to even utter; I had already felt conflicted about my unvoiced feelings. She turned and stormed out of the school.
For the six years that followed, she didn’t speak to me: angry and hurt that I had withheld my feelings toward her. I regretted my decision month after month. But departing for Russia, I became consumed with my studies there, as she similarly immersed herself at her university.
One distant Christmas evening mass, I saw her walking through the pews. She floated by me, not recognizing my long hair and beard, as I had recently returned from the cold, Russian winter. Instantly standing, I had dashed after her, but she had been nowhere to be found. In the days that followed, I tried to find her, but her rightfully-protective mother had refused to disclose her phone number or email; though I finally convinced her to at least convey mine to her.
An email appeared in my inbox, succinctly asking what I had wanted. So, I explained that I had hoped to buy her a ticket to fly back and go out on a date with me. She didn’t answer for a week, but later reluctantly agreed. Sending her the ticket, I received a check in the mail from her parents for the price of the flight which read: “…so our daughter does not feel obligated.”
Our date felt awkward and fumbling, confusing and uncomfortable, and had totally confirmed my suspicion that I had been in love with her for the many years since I had met her. She disclosed that I had hurt her greatly, yet her life was finally where she had wanted it, and that she hadn’t wanted major upheaval again.
She flew home, and I hadn’t known if she had ever wanted to see me again. She had given me a letter and had made me promise to not open it until she departed.
As the tires lifted off the tarmac, I opened it. In it she told me everything, from the beginning of our story together… And had disclosed her true feelings. She had loved me as well, but feared my tendency to abruptly change when I had felt so inclined. She did not want to be hurt again.
The next week, I packed my car, closed all of my accounts, and found an apartment on her side of the country. (Perhaps validating her concern about my abruptness!) In two and a half days of crazy 15 hour sprints, I had arrived on the West Coast.
Rather than drive to my new apartment, I drove straight to her at work. She was shocked: of course if I could do something so rash as to move across the country to date her, couldn’t I then make a reckless decision and abruptly end our blossoming relationship?
Although it appears from the radical nature of my life’s choices that I make decisions in haste, my mother had taught me:
1. When you believe in something, you must be willing to sacrifice everything to pursue it.
2. If it doesn’t work out, trying to force it will bring you great suffering and failure.
3. Knowing the difference between 1 and 2 is the hardest thing in life.
“I always wondered why birds stay in the same place when they could choose to fly anywhere on the Earth, but then I ask myself the same question,” wrote an unknown author. The hardships of my early life opened the cage to travel anywhere passion had compelled me. Fortunately, those childhood challenges drove me directly into the arms of my best friend and love of my life.
Building trust in a relationship takes time, especially when you’re facing the chaotic events of adolescence and in the unsteady beginning of your career. We both believed in our relationship, and were passionate enough to commit to a life together.
Very difficult trials would lie ahead for us individually and as a couple. But like a gemstone is not polished without rubbing, a relationship is not grown without commitment to the other’s individual growth and fulfillment… especially when you could, rather, focus all your efforts to shining.. alone. A life without her would lack luster, no matter the efforts I had made to polish it. So, I left the cage of my prior security, and adventured out to find her, to earn her trust, and to spend the last of my days together loving her.
Birds don’t choose to stay in one place because they’re afraid to fly away. They stay, because they’re home. Wherever my beautiful bride, and the exuberant little cherubs we’ve created together, live… There, I am home.
Often, the most difficult choices are between the sane arguments of our mind and and the crazed intuitions of our heart. As a man of reason, formally schooled in logic and rationality, I’ve come to learn… No matter how much it may seem stressful, choose heart. Your mind will create every convincing excuse for you to not follow your heart, under the illusions of some stress free fantasy, but sometimes, only those crazed foolish dreams are sane.
Fortunately for me, she said, “Yes.”
Photo Author’s Own
More from Scott Sonnon on the secrets to the Good Life @ Good Men Project: