Wednesday, 10 February 2010
Love doesn't always run smoothly
I was going through an emotionally difficult time in my life. I had been married to my first husband, the father of my son and daughter for 18 years, when the marriage ended. I rushed very stupidly into a second marriage, because I thought I couldn't cope with being on my own to raise my children. This second marriage lasted 7 years, and it took me all that time to realise that my husband was a pathological liar and that I never really knew him at all.
At the time I was working as Deputy Manager of a residential home for people with severe mental health problems. The Manager was on long term sick leave so I was acting Manager as well. We were short-staffed and I had to rely on unreliable agency staff, which often resulted in my doing 24-hour back to back shifts myself to cover the gaps. In short...I was burning out...which so often happens to people in this area of social work.
Two single, unattached women, Angie and Anita, did occasional shifts at the residential home and I got to know them quite well. Anita was a frequent visitor to Turkey and she was about to go off back-packing for two weeks. I had never been to Turkey, nor had Angie, and she talked us into going with her. I needed a break and it seemed the perfect opportunity. Angie and I decided to go for just a week. So we booked our flights for August and set off with our rucksacks. We ended up in a small marine resort called Gocek. It was beautiful. Anita had decided we should stay one day then set off on a route she had planned for us. However, Angie and I had different ideas. We were quite happy to spend the entire week in this lovely place. So we compromised, one week in Gocek, then we would return home and Anita would set off on her own for her second week.
Mr Ayak was working at a restaurant where we ate on our first evening. He was quite shy....very different to many of the Turks who use their charm to lure customers into their restaurants...and often into their beds!
So this was no holiday romance. We ate there most days, and he would sit and chat. His English was almost non-existant then, and I helped him with it. Angie and Anita...being free and single...often went off to bars and nightclubs, but that wasn't really my thing. Mr Ayak and I were happy to sit and chat and get to know each other. Each evening he would walk me to the door of the hotel, and respectfully leave me there. The closest we got to any sign of romance was when he shyly asked if he might kiss me! Which he did....chastely on the cheek!
On his day off, he bought bread, cheese and fruit and we went for a picnic....otherwise we just sat with my dictionary and phrasebook and attempted conversation.
At the end of the week, we exchanged phone numbers. Anita set off for her second week and Angie and I returned home. I didn't expect to hear from him again so I was quite surprised when he telephoned me a few days later. We continued to speak on the phone and I decided to fly over to Turkey in the October. By this time my marriage had been over for some time, and to be honest I think I was looking for an escape. I also realised that I was beginning to become very fond of Mr Ayak.
Mr Ayak and I travelled around Turkey before finding our first home in Gumusluk. However, I did a lot of flying back and forth. It was a big decision...difficult on so many levels...some of which I find hard to talk about even now.
I had reservations at first about whether this relationship would work. I was worried that I am older than him.. You also read many stories about Turkish men marrying older foreign women for their money and a visa to get to England. Well I didn't have money...I ended up with very little from my divorce (having ignored my solicitor's advice)...and what I did have at the time was spent on furniture, and frequent flights back to the UK. Now of course I have absolutely nothing...and almost 12 years later we're still together. He didn't want a visa either...he has no desire to live in the UK. So I guess after all this time that he must love me!
It has by no means been an easy journey. We have seperated a couple of times. The reasons were varied, but I think language and cultural differences caused a breakdown in communication. And the fact that I would be the first to admit that I am not the easiest person to live with. Mr Ayak is more tolerant of me than I am of him.
I spent one of these periods living back in England on my own, and another on my own in Goreme. Something that I should, on reflection, have done between marriages. It served a very useful purpose. It made me more independent and self-sufficient. Something that has proved invaluable recently with Mr Ayak being away. It also made me realise that this is the country that I now call home, and that if I ended up on my own for some reason, this is where I would stay.
So...it wasn't your typical Shirley Valentine holiday romance, but more a love that has grown stronger over the years, in spite of (or maybe because of) the problems we have experienced along the way. We will have been married 11 years in April. We've both mellowed an awful lot, and we've both learned a lot of lessons along the way. I pretty much think that we're stuck with each other now!
Love doesn't always run smoothly does it? But it would be quite boring if it did!