-Patience is a conquering virtue-
There are numerous small villages, that we might never even heard of, situated deep in deserts all over the world. Women who live in those deserts, they all share the same trait. At a very young age, they begin to master a skill that is not at all a physical strength. They are being taught a skill of PATIENCE. Desert women have to say goodbye to their men who often must engage in a dangerous search for supplies in order to provide for the family. Women watch them go, they watch their footprints slowly get filled with sand, disappearing forever. Without seeing the path in the sand, they still look at the distance with a reticent smile on their faces.
“I’m a desert woman, and I’m proud of that. I want my husband to wander as free as the wind that shapes the dunes.”
We all know that inevitably a visit comes to an end. But we can’t quite know how to deal with the sadness or emotional void that we are left with. Each person has their unique way of dealing with emotions, yet there are several mindsets that can help you overcome post-visit depression and regain the strength you need in order to cope with distance after a visit.
Before you say goodbye
The first step has to do with a situation that happens even before you say goodbye to each other.
The whole -ritual- of farewells is already a dreadful situation itself. We tend to prolong the time that we have left together at the airport or train station. We count every minute until the gate opens, as if we were waiting for a penalty. Minutes go by too fast, and we often spend our last minutes together in a quite unhappy mood.
It doesn’t matter if you are saying goodbye just for a few days, or as long as several months. The act of saying goodbye is hurtful in itself.
This is why you should try creating another -ritual- that will actually replace the negative patterns and connect your idea of farewell to pleasant emotions instead of tears. The trick here is to create a memory that will inevitably put a smile on your face when you remember your last few minutes together. Making a symbolic gift that you could exchange with your partner at the airport, recording a short video on their phone when they are not watching, or putting secret notes in your partner’s suitcase, so that he/she can find it when you are away, are some of ideas to start with.
Remember: don’t make airport drama – It is just a “see you soon”, not a goodbye.
Those first few days when you are apart again, you will be feeling the most vulnerable. Psychological researches showed that a partner who was traveling/visiting, usually had a harder time dealing with distance than the other partner. In international relationships, there is also a -cultural- shock and natural stress that a new country, new language, or different time zone and climate provokes. If possible, maintain the contact during flight stops and during your partner’s journey. Try being present for one another to avoid that any of you feels abandoned. If it’s not possible to be in contact, leave emails or short videos telling them about your day or how you feel. Those first few days are crucial in maintaining the contact and recreating the bond.
Plan your next visit
Even if you don’t know when it will happen, feel free and encourage your partner to plan a visit. Talking about the possibilities will create a positive attitude and a vision that you both share. Select a place where you would like to travel together. Imagine your next visit, things that you would like to see or do. Look at photos of different places together, share maps and activity lists. There are still plenty of things that you want to try out together when you meet again. It is not just vast imagination. It means being brave and confident enough to create and envision a future -together- even when you are apart. This will also reassure you that your partner wants to continue the relationship and get to the final goal of being eventually together in one place for good.
Be free to let out your emotions
Look at emotions without trying to label them as positive or negative. They are just emotions that help us deal with the situation we are facing in the moment. People tend to run away from unpleasant emotions. Embrace them and try to understand the deeper meaning, as they will help you grow and get mentally stronger.
Many couples report to something that could be described as post-visit depression. It is actually a real thing. The feeling of -loss- of your partner, even if you know that they are just across the country, or across the ocean, triggers the same region in brain that is affected when we literally lose a person. That is known to cause not only emotional pain, but also physical pain in the chest and heart area. It’s not a surprise that a -broken heart- actually feels broken or hurt. While it’s normal to feel down, try not to isolate yourself. Express your emotions to your partner. Share your feelings with family or friends. Having your thoughts out of your head makes you realize that the challenge is a lot smaller than you made it seem inside of your head. Allow yourself to cry and feel the sadness. Don’t try to fight it or hide it. The adjustment takes time, do not rush it, but be aware of your feelings, and if it takes too long to get back on track, or it doesn’t allow you to function normally at school or at your job, it would be good to consult a professional to help you overcome the difficult period.
Take extra care of yourself
Now that your partner is no longer physically present, don’t just give up on taking care of yourself.
Treat yourself a special meal, get your hair and nails done, get as much sleep as you need. Just those simple things can make a difference. Being with your partner makes you feel that someone cares about you.
Taking extra care of yourself can actually produce the same happy-hormones in your body, and make you motivated again. Taking care of your own needs is a disposition of staying mentally strong. By nourishing your body, you also take care of your mind. And only when you are feeling good in your own skin, you will be able to take care of others, and connect with others.
Engage in a new activity
Concentrating only on how much you miss your partner will not do you good. Even if it takes some effort at first, try out a new activity. It will make your mind off of moody state, and you will have fun things to talk about with your partner. Find a healthy balance of your personal life and communication with your partner.
New activities can also include your partner. Pick up a new show to watch, make a list of movies to watch together, or play games you never tried before. Take an online class or exercise routine on Youtube that you could do at the same time with your partner. This way you will look forward to each encounter and turn nostalgic feeling into an empowering one.
Avoid trying to fill in the -void-
There is data that shows that some long-distance couples tend to get emotionally distanced after a visit. As a way of protecting their emotions, they replace their partner with other excessive activities. This might mean going out with friends more than usual, getting obsessed with certain activity, or spending more time at work then needed. You should not seek to replace your partner nor fill the void with something or someone else. It is completely natural to feel that your partner is missing. But have in mind your future visits, and try to balance again your personal life and your relationship.
In the end, it is inevitable to feel down, and everybody has their own way and pace to deal with emotions after a visit. Understand and accept yourself and have in mind all the experiences and memories you made with your partner. Cherish those memories and instead of concentrating on what you don’t have at the moment, stop and reflect on what is most important, and how great your relationship is despite the distance. It’s worth it.
“Patience is not the ability to wait. Patience is to be calm no matter what happens, constantly take action to turn it to positive growth opportunities, and have faith to believe that it will all work out in the end.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
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