A Mistake I Made In My Relationship: Episode 1
It's late Sunday morning and the warm sunlight breaks through the nude coloured curtains in our one bedroom high rise apartment in London.
After I wipe the sleep from my eyes, I turn my face to the left to look at Ian. He smiles back and whispers "Morning... or shall I say good afternoon! What would you like to do today?"
"Hmm... can you make pancakes?!" I ask while yawning.
Ian gently runs his fingers through my hair and chuckles. "Sure. I'll make some for us right now."
As he bounces out of bed and puts on baggy pants, my phone starts ringing.
Within seconds of seeing the caller ID, my heart skips a beat. It's Emma. The last person in the world I want to hear from.
Emma is a director I've been working with for a famous beauty brand I cannot name. She's a smart, tall and slim 40 something with two cute toddlers. She's gotten so far to the top, you'd think she'd be an inspiring person to work with, but in reality, she's a nightmare to work for. So much so, I've saved her name as the Devil Wears Prada on my phone.
When I answer her call, she makes the one request no one wants to hear on a Sunday morning,
"Hi Joy, I've read your work and I've sent it back to you with my suggestions. I want to spend the rest of the day with my daughters so I sadly won't be able to talk to you later. Can I trust you to make the changes and leave your work on my desk by 9am tomorrow?"
I want to say no but I'm so obedient, I instantly blurt out the words "Yes... Yes, I'll do it."
As soon as I hang up the phone, I immediately feel guilty.
Ian's staring at me and the bright spark in his eyes has disappeared.
Today is the day I promised to switch off my work phone and give him my full attention. I promised him I wouldn't work today. We were supposed to sleep in, have pancakes, go for a walk in the park and have a long date.
And yet once again, I'm cancelling our date for work.
What most people don't know is that Ian and I haven't spent an entire day together in 60 days. All because I'm a career focused, corporate climbing woman who doesn't know how to say no.
I'm afraid of disappointing my colleagues. I'm scared that if I do, I'll miss the opportunities to achieve something meaningful with my life.
Ian turns to me and sighs, "I'm guessing that was Emma?"
I nod my head and begin to apologise, "Yes... I'm sooo sorry. She said that - "
Frustrated, Ian exhales loudly and interrupts, "Don't worry about it. I'll make pancakes and find something else to do."
Seeing the disappointment in his eyes was soul crushing.
The moment he closed the door to our bedroom and left to make brunch, was the moment I pondered on the question, "Is the work I'm doing genuinely more important than my marriage?"
It then suddenly dawned on me Emma wasn't to blame for my long work hours. Of course she's demanding and will always make tons of requests.
But it's up to me to decide what is worth my time.
And even though it feels impossible to make time for my family when I have an intimidating boss that pays me every month, she still does not have the power to decide what I do with my time.
The moment I realised that was the moment I began to explore the meaning of my life and how I wanted to spend my time moving forward.
It became clear that I've spent far too much time prioritising what I'm "supposed to do" and too little time focusing on what I would prefer to do.
The reality is there are only 3 things I care about deeply. Being the wife I vowed to be, creating a business that makes a meaningful difference to peoples lives, and one day becoming a nurturing mother.
And yet, I spend most of my time doing everything but that. Instead of having a date, I'll spend all night writing fancy PowerPoint slides. Instead of creating a meaningful business, I do a job that doesn't help me learn how to do that. Instead of creating a life and a home that would be great to raise a child in, I've built a career that doesn't have room for children.
Coming to this realisation helped me to see that the little choices I was making on a daily basis were making me sacrifice the life I dreamed of. They weren't helping me build the life I wanted.
And so I made a decision. I promised myself that from that day forward I will only say yes to things that make me grow and be the woman I aspire to be. I will only do work that helps me to build the life I want.
After my tumour diagnosis and surgery, I've come to appreciate that our future isn't guaranteed. How we spend every moment is the only thing that matters. Each moment we have is not a moment to be wasted.
That one decision opened new doors and created possibilities for me. It's what inspired me to explore and discover new career options. It's what gave me the courage to eventually resign and exclusively work on my business. And because of it, I've never dreaded a day at work ever since.
Sure, I still struggle with finding the time to balance my marriage with my business and my own needs. But the difference is, every moment I spend is worth it.
So the big question for you is, what is the meaning of your life? What is worth your time?
This is the story of my life, and you're reading it as it happens.