after four years
I've felt compelled to write about this for some time, and now that our relationship recently passed the four year mark, I figured it could be a good time to conclude how we've done so far. Living on a boat, as a couple, for such a long time I mean. I think the relationship is the most common interest that people have. "How do you do it?" "Don't you get sick and tired of each other?" "What's been the greatest challenge?" and so forth..
Looking back at these years, still fairly few but extremely intense, that we have spent together, I can say that I am very relieved and thankful that we've come this far. I am relieved that we survived our to date hardest trial which occurred during our year long stay in Antigua. A year that was overwhelming, in many negative ways, and a year that could very well have separated us, wouldn't it have been for our stubborn determination to make it through that horrendous time, in one way or the other.
Old readers might remember some parts of that year though I haven't even mentioned half of what really was going on in our lives. Firstly we decided to sell Alex's first boat to get a new, larger, faster one as we imagined life easier with additional living space. We (he) lost a lot of money on that sales process, and after having sailed for a year and a half since we had left Spain, we found ourselves broke to the point that we had to put most hours of the day working and whoring out our varied services to left and right just to make ends meet and to be able to repair the larger, but older boat we had acquired.
We lived in the middle of an ongoing boat renovation on an island where we didn't felt like we belonged, met many negatively influencing people, lived with the constant blanket of the annoying tropical heat, we were longing for friends and family, and on top of it all, my mother died and left me questioning not only my current situation or the past from where I come, but also my inner self from every possible, uncomfortable angle.
My mother and I hadn't ever had the best of relationships though we had tried finding our way back to each other in those recent years, but still, she is the reason why I exist and the existential questions that a sudden death evokes are challenging enough in their own regards.
If there is something that I am amazed by when looking back at that year, now 1,5-2 years ago, is that it all came at once. We left on this journey to find answers and get to know ourselves and each other better, and the trials and lessons that life brought onto us really were of the massive sort. It seems to us that the universe went hellbent on testing our strength and quality of our relationship and there was a time it seemed that we were not going to make it. There were moments I thought we were no longer meant for each other.
Inevitably, we argued a lot during that year. And our major problem wasn't that love was missing or that we were unhappy with the life that we had started together. The main problem laid in the way we communicated during those trials. In hindsight, we can laugh about ourselves, almost feeling ridiculous and ashamed, at how narrow-minded and stupid one can become when in the midst of major turbulences. When you don't have any outside references, but try to work heavy things out while being stuck at the bottom. And without really knowing one another yet.
Both Alex and I are normally very intense in our languages though we're much better today than back then, and while being pressured and disappointed at many things at once, we definitely crossed the line in how a couple who fundamentally loves each other should converse respectfully. It's funny the way one thinks one is doing or saying the right things, but later you realize the strategy was nothing more than counter productive.
After countless months of trying and unintentionally working against each other, I decided I needed a break. You might remember that I left for London and Berlin for a month and a half last year, and being disappointed in what level our relationship had reached, I decided to stay away until I had found the answers that I needed. Honestly I wasn't sure if I would return, but somehow the distance made us good. And being that far from Alex, while almost trying to recreate a life in which our relationship didn't exist any longer, just to see how that sort of life felt, I realized what an emptiness it would have meant if we for real decided to end what we had started.
As I said, it wasn't love that was missing, it was our communication that had been destructive. In order to have any chance to repair or rebuild a respectful relationship, we both had to work hard on our personalities.
Two extremely stubborn, temperamental, emotional and, in their own ways, disappointed human beings trying to communicate isn't the easiest of tasks, believe me. We both made mistakes. We both had our faults, and none of us were ready to end it, even though I was momentarily on the verge of giving up.
I respect and love Alex immensely for showing me that no matter what, even in the darkest of moments, an ocean apart from each other, it was never on his agenda to let go of us. If it would have been, we would probably not be together now. I would have probably stayed in Europe. And as much as he showed me what unconditional love is, he has slowly had to learn through me how to communicate better. Even though I was equally at fault in many ways, I still had a slight advantage in communicating calmly and constructively.
There are obviously traits in each other that still makes us mad. Alex hates that I can occasionally turn into a distant cold hearted bitch when provoked, and he on the other hand is still at occasion a very intense and dramatic person which makes me want to blow up from time to time. This is where the good of my yoga/meditation comes in for your record, it has helped not only myself, but also us as a couple. I've realized that the calmer and more collected I am, the easier is it for me to guide him into becoming rational and tranquil when he has his typical temperamental (Greek) tantrums. And with time I have seen this slowly but surely changing his personality to a better collected person as well.
Another thing that has helped us is the fact that I much less frequently drink alcohol compared to before. A tensed argument is never helped by one or both being intoxicated. Luckily Alex doesn't drink at all, but during the times of hardships when I've been under the influence of alcohol, it has only worsened our fights. All the things one must learn with time, if only ones wish is to make things better.
I think we have not only taught each other some very important life lessons, but we have also been so good for each other, I mean genuinely. We have made each other better people. And even though we still have things that we work on like everyone has, we are more mature and comfortable in the relationship than what we were in those first years. A partnership is never without complications and I am certain there will be many more times when we question what is right. But when you find someone worth fighting for, you have to look upon yourself and see, what can I do to make this better, smoother, instead of always expecting the other one to be perfect.
People react on disappointments, anger, sadness and frustration in different personal ways, and even though it could be tempting being egoistic and only lamenting about what "I need" or what "he/she could do to make me feel better", it is so very important to be real, take a step back, and see "what have I really done to make the situation better, for him/her, for us?".
Through the eyes of this relationship and through the moments of annoyance and suffering that we have been through, I think we both have had to humble down and make a commitment to always try looking at ourselves first. Like, "would I want to live with myself in this moment", and if not, make sure to alter direction.
Love and partnership is an intriguing phenomenon. There was a time I didn't believe much in it at all. And given that it can sometimes be hard enough to make oneself happy with all options and life varieties there are, it is an ever challenging task trying to keep someone else with a complete different mind, cultural background and upbringing, not to mention a person of another sex, happy and satisfied. But it is what it is, and as long as there's love and respect, there should probably always be a way to make things work.