My Perfect Life Was a Lie

Yvonne Gavan
6 min readOct 16, 2018

After four years spent living in the glorious Caribbean, we’ve finally left. All the rum cocktails on the beach, afternoons spent swimming in the most exquisite, warm turquoise seas, and lounging by our very own pool on Sundays have come to an end.

But I’m not sad. Honestly I’m not. Because, even though it looked like the instagram account of dreams — an unbelievably perfect reality — my Barbados life presented more than it’s fair share of challenges. And I’m not talking about the ups and downs of small island life (although there were plenty of those). I’m talking about the way reality, in all of it’s stark, ugly truth, was heightened there.

Firstly, death — and its resulting grief — was a big part of my life on the island. In the years before we moved to the Caribbean we lived in Greater London. My husband and I were unmarried and in our mid/late twenties when I found out that I was unexpectedly pregnant with our daughter. We were not long back from Asia where we’d spent a couple of years living a very simple life as ESL teachers, earning just enough to get by and traveling cheaply in the region whenever we could. Part of our trip had been spent living in Thailand with my then partner’s brother, his wife and their three children. And it became clear that my partner’s relationship with his only brother was complicated. They depended on each other in a way that was intense and alien to me. Very different to the sibling dynamics I had with my three sisters — which are uniquely imperfect and roughly hewn in ways all of their own.

On returning to London we both enrolled in post graduate training programmes. I completed a journalism qualification and became a newspaper reporter and my partner did a highly regarded MSC that earned him a prestigious yet poorly paid entry level job in London. We had both moved briefly back in with our parents out of sheer financial necessity when I witnessed a red line seep across the small white square of the pregnancy test. After the initial shock, we were both elated and, very much in love, we decided to marry three months later.

Optimism and joy carried us through the first few years of marriage as we struggled to pay the mortgage and bills on our small terraced house while painting and decorating it with a lot of help from my dad. We furnished it with a forest green…

Yvonne Gavan

British journalist - The Telegraph, Stylist, Breathe etc - host of The Tenderness Revolution podcast. Moving around the world. Currently in Bangladesh.