Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Long distance relationships part 2

If you've not read part 1 yet, now might be a good time. Or you might want to be a rebel and read this part first. Its up to you.

By now I was in South Africa, spending some time with my family, slowly traveling to Grahamstown where I would be spending my year abroad, studying at Rhodes University. I had stopped crying quite as much, and I began to think that, perhaps, maybe, we might make it. I am an optimist, I know bad things happen, but that things will get better, eventually. I probably wouldn't have been able to cope in a long distance relationship if I hadn't believed that.

Things went well at first. We missed each other like crazy. Corey even going to the extent of calling me up from Portugal where he was on his archeology dig. It was 4 am...and he was obviously not sober. And he wanted me to call him back when he (inevitably) ran out of credit. Ummm...no, I don't think so...At first we mostly talked via email. I needed to pay for internet, but couldn't do so until term started. There was also limits to internet usage of 2 gigs per week, so Skype was only a once a week treat. Which I didn't actually mind: yes, it would have been nice to talk to him once a day, but it was wonderful to talk to him once a week. It was something to look forward to. He tried calling me via the university pay phone, but that would cut out after a certain number of minutes. It was the first of many technological hitches that were to come our way. But as each day went buy, I became more and more sure that we were going to make it. Corey was considering coming over in September when I had my mid semester break. I was planning on coming home for Christmas and I was also hoping to get to Australia the following year. We thought that six months was going to be the most time we spent apart.

You know how I said I was more than a little smug about how perfect our relationships are? Well, perhaps karma was watching. In August Corey went on holiday with his friends. I waited eagerly for his return, sending him silly little emails for him to read when he came back. The night he came back, I knew something was wrong. I read people like a book after knowing them for a while, even if the only contact I have with them is online. By the next morning I knew what was wrong without him even telling me. He'd done something stupid during his holiday. With hindsight it wasn't a big deal at all, just a silly little mistake. But being 6,000 miles apart, silly little mistakes feel so much worse than they actually are. We talked, a lot, and decided that we were going to push on through till December. But at the same time as all this happening, I was struggling with the difference in workload in my university course. Law in South Africa is a postgraduate course, and I was only just out of my second year of university. I was way above my head. And what happened with Corey just piled on the stress. I stopped eating. I lost 3 kilo's in 2 weeks (considering I was borderline between normal and underweight to begin with, this was not good). A friend suggested counseling and so off I went. It turns out that I had a hell of a lot of unresolved issues that had absolutely nothing to do with Corey, but that had suddenly resurfaced because of it.

We started talking on msn every day, rather than emailing once a day and msning once in a while (Corey hates msn and avoids it as much as he can). We slowly got back on track. I started eating again and was a lot happier. I came home for a month in December and he was even sweeter to me than he had been before I left. He was incredibly attentive, picked me up from my house (we live a 2 hour round trip from each other) to take me to his. Before I left I used to catch the train down and be dropped off by him afterwards. We were still just in love with each other, a bit battered and bruised, yes, but we were still happy with one another.

Thinking about it now, 3 years on, I am actually a little glad that what happened happened. Yes, I got badly hurt, and Corey hurt himself at the same time. We went through a rough time of it and nearly broke up a few times. But if it hadn't have happened, I never would have dug down deep and discovered more about myself. In those once a week group counseling sessions I had, I discovered I was still in so much pain from my childhood. I was still angry at my father for emigrating. I had a deep fear of abandonment. I was living my life not for me, but to get approval from my parents. I came out of those sessions with more confidence, with more self-esteem. I learnt how to make choices with only myself in mind, not only my parents. I learnt how to let go of hurt, anger and sadness. I also, finally, forgave myself for some of the hurt and anger I'd directed at other people.

I will write about the final 10 and a half months either later today or tomorrow. What? I know its a long story, but it is a year and a half's worth of tale! What do you expect?

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