I want to warn anyone that doesn’t like mushy personal posts, that this will be exactly that, a very personal post about my biggest issue about being in Mozambique: My long distance relationship. I’ve written several times on this blog that after almost ten years away from home, I’ve grown used to being away from my family and friends and that I have been able to manage these feelings. Though over the last year and a bit, a new person in my life has exposed the hardships of being a solo expat.
I always knew when I left London that long distance relationships might become part of my life as the locations I would be sent to wouldn’t always make local relationships feasible due to a variety of reasons: Religion, culture, lack of women etc. so I always ‘prepared’ myself for the possibility of a long distance relationship. When I say prepared myself, I simply mean that I would tell myself “You’re going to be in a long distance relationship”. A tip to all anyone who attempts this: That is no preparation. None at all.
I thought to myself, “We will see each other every two or three months. That’s not too bad.”. What I didn’t count on was that every time we saw each other, there would be the constant reminder from my subconscious that we had very little time together. I didn’t count on how painful the goodbyes would be. I didn’t count how much I would actually miss her over two or three month period we would be apart. I didn’t count the feeling of regret for not being able to experience something like the amazing Africa sunsets with her. I wasn’t prepared for any of this.
I think that perhaps had this merely been a little romance, some of these feeling might have been easier to deal with, but with Raquel, I haven’t only found romance. I’ve found love, companionship and a best friend. I never believed in the term “soulmate”, but the longer I’m with Raquel, the more this word becomes a reality. In Raquel I’ve found some to share my hopes, my dreams and my fears with. We are each others perfect matches. We similiar in a lot of ways and very different in other ways. She compliments my strengths and compensates for my weaknesses.
As this relationship started as long distance, we had never spent extended periods of time together, which might have made the distance slightly more bareable as we really didn’t know what a ‘normal’ relationship was like. The war in Libya in changed that. Suddenly I was going to be in London with Raquel for an extended period of time. For first time since the start of our relationship, we would be a normal couple, not only living in the same city, but also in the same house. We could have dinner together after work; Meet friends for drinks; Go for walks in the city etc. Do things normal couples do. Those were by far the best two and a half months I had ever spent in London. Everything I felt for her confirmed itself: I had found the love of my life.
After almost two months together I received the dreaded phonecall from my company letting me know that they have found projects for me to join. The prospect that I would be away from her again and bethat ‘long distance couple’ again was frightening however I simply chose to ignore it. The day I left for Mozambique was by far the hardest goodbye I’ve ever had to say and experience. Our normal relationship was going to be abnormal again. At this stage I had already asked Raquel to marry me, so there was already a long term comitment in place, but only made things harder.
After two months of spending most of our free time together we were ripped apart again and dependant on phones and internet connections and Skype. Admittedly those first few days were extremely hard. It was obviously hard on Raquel as well, however she had the good fortune of being around friends which could distract (only to a point) her from the thinking about being apart. For me on the other hand, it was much harder. Not that this is a competition, but moving to a new country, new and very complicated project, new people has made this seperation for me so much harder than it would have been had I returned to Libya, where I had established friendships. Here I was and in some ways still am, on my own. I have very little to distract me from the fact that there are thousands of kilometers seperating me from my fiance.
This long distance relationship thing is a lot harder than I thought (and that’s an understatement) and would definitely tell anyone to consider their options carefully before starting a long distance relationship. Raquel have made it work, because as I said before, we love each other more than anything else and we both don’t want to do this for too long. We’ve established a deadline to this long distance situation. It’s one of the the things that keeps us going: knowing that this won’t go on indefinitely.