Anniversary special: That one time we called it quits

In celebration of the relationship we have today, I’m going to recount the darkest and lowest point in our time together: that one time we called it quits.

It was meant to be a relaxing holiday, visiting his sister in the land down under, attending his nephew’s baptism where he was godfather, and just being together before getting serious with our relocation plans.

​We were newly engaged. I was giddy with excitement, and hopeful about our future. Perhaps naive, but I’ve always felt that together we can conquer all things. It didn’t bother me that we were both jobless – having decided to leave Canada. It didn’t worry me that we weren’t sure where we were headed; do we move for job or decide on a place and then seek employment? I was very, very hopeful, trusting, and in love.

We enjoyed the summer holiday, soaking up the Australian sun, and meeting with family. We were also shopping for our wedding bands; a very frustrating and exhausting experience.

But somewhere between all of that, well-meaning third party talks started to get to us.

People started questioning what our future would look like. Do we have what it takes to start a family? Where will we raise our family? In Lebanon? Will I survive if I do not speak or understand Arabic? Will the system – or lack thereof – be something we can live with? Do we really want to raise our children in a country known more for its ‘unrest’ than its beauty? Et cetera et cetera et cetera.

Days went by with anxiety brewing beneath and bubbles began to pop. We talked at length. Perhaps we’ve been too naive. Maybe we haven’t asked the right questions all these years together. It’s now time for the ‘hard’ stuff, and no matter how challenging life was in Canada, we aren’t prepared to do this, together. But none of us wanted to say it. I guess we were both terrified.

Then came time to board the plane, and my parents would meet us on the other side. Our engagement blessing was coming up in a matter of days. We still haven’t gotten our rings.

That’s when I asked: “So this is it?”

We talked through the same old things again, and again. Really? Lebanon huh? What about me? If you had to choose between Lebanon or Me, you’d choose Lebanon, right? This realisation shattered me.

Yet none of us quite believed that this was the end of the road for us. At least we didn’t want to believe it. All these years of not being able to get enough of each other, and now we’ll carry on with our individual lives as if our paths never crossed.

Everything around me greyed out. My mind could no longer focus. In fact, it was so heavy. I was drowning. Yet strangely feeling like a role in a television soap opera drama scene.

We got on that plane. We were seated next to each other. And I couldn’t feel further away from him. I’ve never wanted this badly to get away from him, yet hold him tight because… I might just never get to hold him again.

It hurt so bad. To know that this man you’ve dreamed into life, has chosen something else over you. (In full disclosure, he didn’t actually say yes he chooses Lebanon over me, but that’s just how it felt like to me at that point in time.) The dream was over. This was reality. When it came down to it, it wasn’t unconditional. I was second choice. I cannot live with being second choice. But the pain, time will heal all wounds. I was happy before we met, and I can be happy again.

I kissed him, took off my engagement ring, and gave it back to him. He looked at it, said nothing, and took it back. He got up from his seat and disappeared. I looked out the window. We’ve reached the end of the road. Then.

We’re celebrating our wedding anniversary in 10 days, so you know it wasn’t quite ‘the end’ for us. ​But it happened, and it hurt, a lot. I’ve never spoken about it. Previously it just made me really angry at the naysayers that claimed no hope upon us. But now, I’m completely desensitized. Everyday I’m living the life they said I couldn’t. I’m living better than I could have imagined, and that’s because together, Eli and I realised it wasn’t us who said we can’t make it. It was them.

Eventually, he came back to his seat, and we realised we didn’t want to separate. We didn’t want to give us up. So in a very strange way, we started dating again. We were on a strange, strange platform of being awkward strangers yet strangely familiar with each other.

We found our wedding bands, had our engagement blessing, and took our relationship long distance. This distance, as with all the other challenges in our courtship, was very good for us, in many ways. More next time.

(Picture was taken in April 2011 – during the long distance, the breakup long forgotten, and super happy to be together!)

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