What’s meant to be, will always be.
If you know me personally or have been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a very private person, especially when it comes to my family and my relationships. I’m not sure why I’m this way but I guess I’ve never really cared what people think in this regard. It’s kind of like a ‘you do you and I’ll do me’ attitude. I don’t like to share personal information if I don’t have to – hence the natural progression to start a blog… (I’m dripping with sarcasm FYI). Keeping this in mind you can understand what a big deal it is for me to be sharing a post today about my boyfriend and I. I’ve never mentioned him on my blog before but I believe we’ve gone through a lot together and our story deserves to be told.
There is no version of this story I can cut down enough to make it a quick and easy read, so just a heads up, if you continue on, this is a long post.
Chad and I met when I was 16 years old. He was part of the same crowd of friends that I hung out with and I saw him most weekends. I remember asking him to my grade 11 Valentines dance because 1) he was tall. I needed someone who would be taller than me when I was wearing heels and 2) I knew he was the one guy I could ask to come with me to my dance and he wouldn’t take it as a romantic gesture. He would be the ‘cool best friend’ dance partner I needed. Fast forward to my matric year and Chad and I were dating. I’d never had a serious relationship before as I’d never met anyone I liked enough to hang out with that often or who I hadn’t got bored being with. Chad was different to anyone I had ever met. He was kind, goofy, humble, funny (as much as it pains me to say this) and so very charming. At the time I thought he was totally not my type and I didn’t really understand why I liked him or what I was doing with him. Looking back I can see now that he was exactly my type and everything I didn’t know I wanted.
From the start our relationship was under a lot of pressure as I had already decided months before that I was going away to Stellenbosch to study after school. Being that we lived in Durban this meant that we would have to be in a long distance relationship if we wanted this to continue. When you’re 17 and 18 years old just starting out in a relationship, this is an extremely overwhelming and daunting concept to grasp. As much as we stressed about it and struggled with this idea, when the year was up and it was time for me to go, we didn’t want to lose each other. It was at that point I already knew, it was better to have him in my life and see him sometimes than never at all.
The first year of long distance seemed like the hardest thing in the world at the time. We went up to three months without seeing each other at one point. We Skyped as much as possible and I lived for my term breaks when I would go home to see him. By the start of my second year of University we both began to feel like, just maybe, we would be able to do this. My degree was only 3 years long and then I could come back to Durban and we could be together. We were almost half way through this long distance journey and that feeling of conquering something that very few people thought we could do gave us a change in mindset, which made the world of difference (this next part needs a new paragraph as it still makes my heart skip a beat).
It was when I was half-way through my second year of University that Chad got offered to go study and play soccer in America. Although he was studying in Durban at the time he was not doing what he really wanted to be doing. I think the fact that I had gone off to pursue what I wanted was also tough for him and so the opportunity to study abroad was one he couldn’t turn down. Hearing this news was a moment in my life that I will never forget. It was the first time I ever truly experienced heartbreak….. heart in my chest, my entire body numb. My world as I knew it was over. The concept of Chad being so far away, starting a new life and meeting new people without me, was too much to bare. It happened right at the time that things were falling into place with us and so I struggled to make peace with it. I’m ashamed to say that I begged him not to go. My 19-year-old self thought my life was over and I didn’t know how to make him stay. I knew that he needed to go, that he should go and that he deserved to go, but oh my goodness what I would have done to make him stay. Two months later we said our goodbyes and agreed to try our best to continue dating while he was in America; a decision which was really where it all went wrong.
It’s difficult to try and break down those two and a half years of Chad’s time in America or try sum it up in a simple paragraph. If I have to think about it as logically as possible, I understand why we chose to stay together; break-up, get back together, be together but not ‘be’ together etc etc, but I wish we had chosen not to. At one point we went a year without seeing each other – a YEAR people! During that time we weren’t officially together and there were other people in both our lives, but we still spoke everyday and deep down I knew I didn’t really want to be with anyone else. Some of the time I think I couldn’t accept the fact that we would’ve broken up due to geographical reasons. I hated the concept of living with a ‘what if’. What if he hadn’t gone to America? What if he was the one I was meant to be with? This showed my emotional immaturity or perhaps how scared I was to really and truly lose him. However, your college years are your years where you should be free to be who you want to be and do whatever you want to do. Make mistakes, take chances and find yourself. We were doing all these things and more but attempting to do them together, from different countries. In the process of all of this he hurt me, I hurt him, we lost trust in one another, there were miscommunications and in general, just so much heaviness surrounding this notion of us having to be together. There were definitely some good times, don’t get me wrong, we wouldn’t have stayed in each others lives as long as we had if there weren’t, but in the long run we almost damaged our relationship to the point of no going back. So much so that when he came back to South Africa after his studies, it was probably about 2 years before we were able to put everything that had happened behind us.
It’s important to note that a lot of these reflections and ‘revelations’ are only visible to me now because I’m in a different space. My life has moved on so much from all of this that when I look back on certain memories, I’m able to see them differently. For someone like me who is very level-headed and strong willed, when it came to Chad and I, it was the one thing in my life that I felt like I had no control over. I was handling everything with my heart and not my head and that was why my family and friends just couldn’t understand it. They couldn’t understand why we tried so hard to make it work even when all the signs pointed to the fact that it was not our time, they couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t move on and they couldn’t understand why we continued to (unintentionally) hurt each other. I say this with no negative feelings or anger as I would’ve done the same thing had I been one of them. From the outside our relationship was by all means not a healthy one. We had extremely high highs and low lows, we only spoke to each other at certain times of the day due to the time difference and we spoke of almost nothing else but when we would see each other again, which was always no little than 6 months at a time. But what can I say? Love is blind, damn.
In the last few months before Chad was due to get his degree and come home, we almost fell apart… for good. It was the most challenging and difficult time of my life thus far. Although we were so close to the end of our long distance journey, it was almost as if everything had suddenly accumulated all at once and became too much. We had been doing long distance for a long time by now and we had both changed so much, experienced different things and had been living different lives. By God’s hand (there is no other explanation for us staying together at this point in my mind) when Chad arrived back in South Africa, we took our fragile and confused hearts and tried to rebuild what we had lost. The bond was still there, the love was still there, the only difference now was that hurt was there too and we had to figure out if we loved each other enough to not hurt anymore.
Believe it or not, the story does not end there. We’ve got more to cover, are you still with me?
You’d think that after years of being in a long distance relationship and being back and forth between being together/not together, that when Chad moved back home everything would’ve become a lot easier and fallen into place. No. On top of our confusion and delirium to be in the same country again, as soon as Chad got back from America, my family relocated from Durban to Cape Town. As I mentioned, I had studied in the Cape and always knew I wanted to live there ‘one day’. The fact that my family, friends and boyfriend were all based in Durban (Chad’s home base was still Durban even though he was studying in America) meant I hadn’t pushed to stay that side when I finished studying. Everything was now happening all at once and I was forced to decide whether I would move with my family to my ideal living location, or stay in Durban and work on a relationship I didn’t really know how I felt about. Once again Chad and I were in a situation where we felt immense pressure on us as I decided to stay in Durban and give things a chance. We had tried so hard all these years, I guess I didn’t have it in me to give up now, not before I knew how things would be if we actually got to see each other all the time like a ‘normal’ couple.
The next year that followed was a year of stress, sadness, confusion, love (always love) and lots of hard work, both in my job and our relationship. As the new year rolled around I made the decision to move back to Cape Town to be with my family, pursue my dreams and start settling down in the city that I had wanted to call home. Not knowing what this meant for my relationship, which was still rocky and placed on a mountain of unknowingness, Chad and I once again agreed to stay together and do long distance so that I could be where I felt I needed to be. I had waited out the year in Durban with Chad so we could be together and yet I felt nowhere closer to things being back to, what we considered, normal. Cue the ‘I miss you’ texts, the daily FaceTimes and monthly flights back and forth; sigh, this was the life of long distance that no matter how badly we tried, we just couldn’t seem to escape. It’s a real issue when being apart from one another is more your normal than being together.
Life is funny in the way that things work out, timing really is everything. I can’t explain why, but from the moment I moved to Cape Town, our relationship immediately did a full turn around – for the better. It was like someone flicked a switch and everything changed for us, individually and as a couple. We both began pressing into our relationship with God, we spoke about a future together, we communicated well and ultimately deeply cared and understood one another; something that often gets confused with loving someone but is very different. We saw each other every month and really committed more time and effort into our relationship than ever before. The timing felt right. Our lives were overlapping and things were naturally starting to fall into place. It was only then that we both began to truly move on from the past and forgive one another for all that had happened.
I’m completely overwhelmed and bursting with joy to be able to say that, after years of living miles away from one another, as of last month Chad moved down to Cape Town and with that, ended our long distance journey. We see each other most days in the week, we go on date nights, meet up to do grocery shopping or go for walks, hang out with our friends and our families are closer than they have ever been. It’s crazy to think how we’ve always been drawn to one another and always known we wanted to be together, we were just so stubborn and determined to have it be on our terms. To this day I wonder how things would’ve turned out had we gone our separate ways all those years ago. Would we have found our way back to each other in the future? Would we still be friends today? Sure, we both would have saved ourselves a lot of heartbreak and a lot of money (no one tells you how pricey it is flying back and forth all the time) but there is always that possibility we wouldn’t be where we are today, which is together, happy and at peace. We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future or where our lives are headed (can anyone 100% really ever know), but we do know that for the first time in a very long time, we are not forcing our relationship. We are both where we are meant to be, and where we are meant to be is together.
I can’t end this post off without my cheesy words of wisdom that all the years of struggling have given me. Take it or leave it but I have to say it; no matter what you are going through in your life, no matter what problem you are facing… it gets better. There was a time when I thought I would never not feel hurt; that I would never not feel sad or lonely or confused amongst the heartbreak of my relationship. But no season in your life lasts forever. We all face trials and tribulations in our lives, they just come at different stages. It’s important to know that you are not alone in your hardships. Amongst all my mistakes and life lessons, I hope somewhere in this story you were able to take something out of it. I’m not really sure what the overall message is or what the moral of the story is; it’s definitely not an ‘all’s well that ends well’ type of thing as I know I will still make bad decisions, lose my way and go through difficult periods in my life. So maybe the lesson from all of this is just to stay true to yourself. Everyone walks down a different path in life. You just need to trust your gut and know that in the end it will all be okay, and if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.