There’s a lot of shitty ways to discover that you are going to have to deal with long distance with the person you care about. Particularly when the long distance is international, with limited communication, and, oh, the small factor that your significant other might die. Even in the best of scenarios, receiving this information, well, sucks. So, you can probably imagine how much more it sucked to receive a text stating “bad news, my truck’s check engine light turned on. Good news, I might die in the Middle East next year.”
I’m not oblivious to the fact that the situation for him sucks significantly more than it does for me. But putting that aside, to say I was distraught is an understatement. My stomach sank. This boy, this complete fucking idiot, thought that TEXTING me a JOKE was the best way to inform me about his deployment.
I want so badly to give him a pass for his insensitivity and stupidity. At the time, we were in a super causal relationship. We were not at all exclusive, hell, we lived a 12-hour drive apart. But in that moment, I became brutally aware that I was counting down the months, weeks, days to be in the same city as him and truly give us a shot, and now we were going to have to add a make or break situation to our future relationship almost immediately after it started.
“How long have you two been together?” felt like such a loaded question. Over three years since he got 19-year-old me drunk at a college house party and we had sexual relations that night (the classless story he would rather re-write) and maintained a solid flirtationship ever since. It’s been a little over a year since we started casually dating, entertaining the idea that when we end up in the same place, we might have a real shot. And it’s only been a few months since deciding that we were going to do this, despite the looming separation that would last longer than the time we’ve even had together.
As with most bad things, the anticipation wears down your confidence. Especially as it is very much possible that we wouldn’t even make it to his deployment. Even with the years of friendship, and the year of constant communication, we are still a new couple. And as we still have a few months till his deployment happens, there is a very real possibility that we will fail as most new relationships do.
Alternatively, in a scenario which I think scares us both more, we will be so focused on enjoying our time together before he leaves, that we won’t have time to go through the normal couple fights and annoyances. Potentially leaving us to spend over a year committed to each other, just to come back to a relationship that wasn’t meant to last. His typical fear that I might regret my commitment and fall unfaithful is matched by my fear that once he returns, we may have wasted so much time for nothing.
Of course, it is always easy to focus on the bad. It is just fear and insecurity that becomes our own worst enemy in times of distress. At the end of the day, it comes down to trust. His trust in me that I know what I am signing myself up for and that I won’t back out when the going gets tough. My trust in him that he likes me for me, and not for the comfort I can provide while he’s away. And the trust that we have in each other that we have gotten to know each other well enough that there won’t be any surprises, and that we are both looking forward to the long term.
In the meantime, it is best to focus on the positive. We are in the same city, and we get to spend as much time with each other as we can. He will hopefully be relatively safe, and assuming the political climate stays stagnant, he will remain safe. I will be able to be there for him when he needs love and reassurance, and we’re not in the dark ages where we must send written letters as our only form of communication. As romanticized as Nicholas Sparks makes it seem, I would rather stab my eyes out than wait two months for a letter telling me he killed a spider or some shit.
Even if we don’t make it, at least I can always hold onto the one truth he never forgets to remind me of, “I am so fortunate to be dating you. Our relationship is so awful, it will give me the strength to run into enemy fire just so that I don’t have to come home to you.” And honestly? You can’t beat that type of love.