As I’ve written about before for Open Our Eyes, a couple of years ago, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I was put on a medication that helps the anxiety considerably, but doesn’t stop me from thinking the things that made me nervous in the first place. The doctor told me that the best thing I could do was go out, meet a boy (or girl, she added as an afterthought), and try to live a normal life. Maybe I could find some things to take my mind off of the things that frightened me.
I met a boy seven months ago, and we are together but apart. Being an entire ocean away from your boyfriend has its perks, I hate to say. I never have to shave if I don’t want to, and I don’t lose my prized alone time. I can come and go as I please. The complete freedom of not having to impress anyone when I go out is liberating. I frequently go to the bar with friends in a hoodie and yoga pants. What do I care? The only guy I want to dress up for is 4,000 miles away for the next three months. So what if I binge watch Twin Peaks and eat Nutella straight out of the jar? Pity for these behaviors is reserved for single girls. I have a boyfriend, he just isn’t here at the moment.
While the perks are alright, they by no means outweigh the downside; the crippling loneliness, the overwhelming need for just one cuddle session. Skype calls are a far cry from actually being able to touch him. Two months out of the year, all together, I can actually smack him when he’s being an idiot, make him breakfast, and dance in my kitchen to Queen with him.
When my mind starts to wander, I start to wonder if maybe I’m holding him with me out of selfishness. I am quite selfish, really. I never shared my toys as a kid, and I hated sharing my friends as a teenager. I am scared, scared that I am forcing him to sacrifice his happiness for mine. He says “forever” and I hear “I’m miserable, let me go”. He has never given me a reason not to trust him. He reassures me over and over that I am the one he wants, always, and that the distance is just a temporary barrier. I can see us overcoming the distance. I cannot see us overcoming my insecurities. I fear that the distance won’t have time to do us in because me, panicking because he told a female friend happy birthday, will do it long before.
How do you know if someone is settling? How do you tell them, possibly for the thousandth time, “you can go, I’ll be okay”, without them thinking you want them to go? How do you just “go with the flow” when you’re horrified the flow with carry them away from you? How do you stop yourself from being a wreck, especially when they’re trying their hardest to keep you from falling apart? How long before they abandon their post, exhausted, and walk away from you? How do you make your brain function properly?
When I started this piece, back in July, I had no idea how to answer those questions, and sometimes I still don’t. My answer, the one hard to remember on the bad days when I can hear the door slamming and him walking out of my life for good, is this: you’ve got to tell yourself to shut up. Sometimes that involves loudly singing Death Cab For Cutie at 1 AM. Sometimes it’s just reading until your brain stops being a total jerk. Sometimes it’s dancing. Be braver than the voice in your head telling you that you’re going to fail, that he will leave, that there’s a line of women at his door. Be strong enough to silence it, even just for a moment. Stop thinking about the future and start remembering all the good things he’s done. This can be applied for any situation, really. If you’re worried about a test or a transatlantic flight, just dance. Just tell yourself– scream it if you have to– that you are okay. Eventually, it will be true, even if for just for a second.