How My Long Distance Relationship Made Us Stronger Than Ever

Shutterstock/Soloviova Liudmyla
Shutterstock/Soloviova Liudmyla

My life is in a constant state of countdown.

4 hours until we FaceTime.
6 days until he’s home for Thanksgiving.
3 weeks until Christmas break.
5 months until summer vacation.
2.5 years until the wait (and law school) is over.
2.5 years until we start our lives, and I move out of limbo.

The summer after graduation, having no job and knowing no one, I packed my bags and moved to Chicago. While many would thrive moving to a new city, following their dreams, and reinventing themselves – I did not. I didn’t want to branch out and meet new people. I didn’t want to explore the city. I didn’t want to accept the change. I didn’t want to make Chicago my home. Yet.

I felt like my life was on pause. Watching everyone else pass by, while I am frozen, waiting for my turn. Catching myself having thoughts about the future, instead of the present.

I can’t wait until he is home to try this new restaurant with me.
When he visits, we will go see this movie.
I heard the ice skating rink opens this week, over break, we will go.
I’ll move closer to the city in a few years, once he finishes school.

I did all the right things. I took the initiative to move beyond my means, and past the life I was raised to expect for myself. However, I left my four year relationship and my heart back in my college town.

All of this because of a boy.

What no one ever told me about long distance was the standstill. The constant state of wanting to move forward with the unruly guilt of starting a new life without him here.

When friends invited me out, I wanted to make an excuse. Opting to stay home, because I knew, at the end of the night, when everyone paired off, facing the realization I’m not going home to him would be too much.

I found it hard meeting new people. How can they know me without knowing the biggest part of me? Yes, I can share our stories and memories. But living in the past only makes me long for a future where I won’t have to do so.

Doing our rituals felt like cheating. Simple things like ordering pizza, making stir fry, and fighting over breadsticks or cheesy bread feels wrong with anyone else. When my roommate started watching Suits, I would look over my shoulder, expecting to hear a smart-ass comment on how, “You saw that coming,” only to be met with her shocked reaction. The same one I had when we watched together. I catch myself saying and doing ‘our things.’ And, although they have become part of who I am, it feels dirty without him here.

Being myself. Exploring this new city. Making it home. Being happy. Making this real. These desires feel abstract. It’s easier to handle when I distance myself, creating this waiting period until you’re here and I can hit the play button to live my life…with him.

I’ve been using him as a crutch-the ultimate excuse. Moving to a new city without him here made me realize my biggest fear, of working on the hardships of a relationship…with myself.

This transition into a new person, without him here, hasn’t been easy. He’s been such a prominent figure in my life for so long, my best friend, that it is awkward to be myself, or even know who I am without him here.

But I guess that’s an important aspect of growing up. Possibly the most important.

I’m so grateful he is following his dream, and supporting me in following mine. How it’s allowed us both to become individuals throughout this process while continuing to grow together.

I’m thankful for him telling me it’s okay to go out, and to tell him about it afterwards. And listening when I tell you stories about the eccentric people who have become part of my new life here. I’m thankful that we have started new rituals, through the distance.

It is because of him that I have found the strength and the faith in which I can be myself, and face my fears. Confidence, having always been an issue, has been the demon I’m confronting myself with these first few months of this new life.

In a way, I feel closer to him now more than ever before. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Related

More From Thought Catalog