Betty and her boyfriend were in a long-distance relationship for 6 years, up until last year when they moved in together in Spain. When she went home to Bulgaria to visit her family, she got stuck.
Betty met her boyfriend during a charity at a food bank, and they’ve been together for the last seven years. Almost the whole relationship has been long-distance since she lived in Bulgaria and he lived in Spain. They met up to travel a lot and started living together one year ago in Spain.
“Last year I came to visit my parents for Christmas and I had some health issues, so I had to stay until February. I got my ticket back to Spain and it was scheduled for the 19th of March, but it got canceled three days before I had to fly back. My boyfriend is moving house and the situation in Spain is very serious, so everybody says it was a good thing that I did not go in the end. I do have health insurance there but it doesn’t cover pandemic cases.
Of course, this situation puts a lot of pressure on everyone involved, including the relationship. It is hard, but I am an impossible optimist, so I am staying positive through this time. I am very grateful that I am surrounded by family and that this situation caught me while I was home and not somewhere in a completely different country. My prayers go to all people who are far away from their homes and families.
I love my family and now I appreciate them even more; we are together in this challenge. My family has lived all their lives in Bulgaria and they have gone through a lot, including the communist regime. So, they are taking this situation with a lot of faith and courage and are an incredible source of strength and hope.
Some days ago on TV, they showed one of the central parks in Sofia ( the capital city) where traditionally old people gather to play chess on the benches. The reporter asked them why they were out in groups during a quarantine, especially as an at-risk group. This was their answer: “Son, we have been through communism; a cough cannot scare us.” Although I do not support this kind of behavior, I can understand why the older people in Bulgaria are saying this.
My parents are younger than these guys on TV but they have been through these tough times too. They raised two children in a country where there was nothing to eat, a special regime for water and electricity, a coupon system for buying goods. The shops were completely empty and when people knew there would be delivery, they queued for hours and hours from 5 a.m to get some food.
My family was often separated because of survival. Dad worked in Germany, and Mom stayed at home or went to another country where she could at least feed her children.
Then there came the hyperinflation in Bulgaria, in which most people lost their life savings. My grandma saved all her life to buy an apartment for me and my sibling when we grew up. In the end, she could not even buy a fridge with that money, it had completely evaporated. This is the story of almost every family here. That’s probably why people have little trust in the government and everyone is surviving on their own.
But, these times have brought some fun traditions and activities too. Like having a garden and conserving fruits and veggies. Both my parents work 8 hours a day. After work, they come home and start tending the garden, producing food for two families, and exchanging what is left with our neighbors, who also grow things.
The conservation process is kind of a social gathering where the whole family comes together and we put stuff into jars. It is an old tradition and younger people laugh at it with the words “Come on, communism is over, we have everything in the shops now.” Still, I enjoy it very much.
My colleagues at work always joked with me that after work I was running home to put stuff into jars. I always told them, “At least if there is a zombie apocalypse we will have food.” Well, needless to say, I have the feeling of a déjà vu now.
We have all been under isolation since the 13th of March. I love my boyfriend too and I would love us to keep our relationship, but right now the most important thing for both of us, our families and friends, and everyone around is to stay safe, healthy, and positive and help anyone that might need it.
We keep in touch through FaceTime and I am grateful we have all this amazing technology that helps us connect, work, and stay in touch with the people we love. It is hard, but it has a positive effect too. We have been together for 6 years and living together for 1. We appreciate each other more during this time, we have time to reflect outside of our busy daily life, we are communicating and thinking about ways to improve our relationship.”
Betty’s Advice for Others in this Situation
“Take the situation positively and use the time to grow, to become a better person that will contribute to the relationship. Don’t be afraid to be abandoned; if you grow and develop nobody will want to leave a catch like you 🙂 Take care of your mental health, do yoga, practice meditation, and when you call your partner don’t nag or overwhelm them with your fears. Your partner is probably worried too. Give yourself encouragement, positivity. Share your worries, but try to be strong about them too. This has worked for me so far, I hope it works for you too.”