I realise that this next statement may make me unpopular, but I'm in Anitgua. Sorry.
I've never been to a Caribbean Island before and I can report it's absolutely and completely beautiful. In fact the word that springs to mind is fecund; it's so abundant, lush, fertile. There is a wonderful sense of community and I think this is because, although the economy is driven by tourism, where my friend lives there are lot of expats and so everyone, Antiguan or otherwise, just rubs along together. The wonderful, mellow rhythm is reflects the nature of the people and instantly puts you at ease, although I have had some interesting propositions, including a very generous offer to impregnate me, but I've never felt uncomfortable or unsafe, in fact I have really enjoyed being able to slip into banter with complete strangers; it's all very good food for the soul.
You'll notice I haven't mentioned Jake. This is because he is still at home in Dorset; I have come to visit friends on my own to take a break, get some perspective and recharge my severely drained batteries. Jake has his (and my) favourite PA staying with him and a host of friends and family to entertain him. I have spoken to him most days via Skype and he is thoroughly enjoying himself and all the attention.
I am so grateful to my friends Vicky, Dion and Mikey for allowing me to descend on them and their new home (yes of course I'd have visited them if they lived somewhere less exotic....honest). They have real lives to live and I'm not sure they realise the magnitude of this kindness and the impact it has had on my sanity and well being.
The ugly truth is that the last two years have been horrendous but I am finally able to stand back and REALLY see all that we have faced and achieved. What I also see is that, through necessity, we have created a kind of co-dependency; Jake has needed me and I have needed him to need me. In the short term there was no choice, this was how we had to live. But now, well, now the other ugly truth is that this co-dependency has morphed into something unhelpful and unhealthy. It is stopping both of us from learning who we are now, finding a sense of ourselves and working out what the hell we want to do with the rest of lives. We have no chance of having a great marriage if we can't work out who we are as individuals...and I really believe we can have and deserve a great marriage.
So, what this week away has taught me is that we can do this. We can survive apart and that this will make the times we are together better.
As the aforementioned favourite PA shared recently; "he's more cooperative when you're not here Charlie", I'm guessing we're not the only husband and wife this applies to!