She always did pride herself on her strength, her independence, her resilience. Of course, she had quite the ego. Yet, she trained her mind to seek rationality, to dismiss any negative emotion that dimmed her light or made her feel any kind of discomfort. She wanted to be known as a kind of candle that radiated happiness with her every step, her every breath and her every heartfelt grin. If she felt even a drop of sadness, she feared a bout of rain and ran away for cover.
When she found herself in a long distance relationship, she readily took on the challenge. At first, it was rather easy. She boasted to herself about how good she was at it. How she was so busy that she didn’t feel a deep longing. No, she was beyond that, you see.
It crumbled shortly.
It took her perhaps over a month before she realised that she was falling short in meeting her own wild expectations. You see, her constant attempts at rationality had her questioning how she could possibly be so weak as to feel a longing. It took her a while to really admit to herself that there was a problem, that the tear soaked pillows every night for three weeks were indicative of something-not-so-right.
She looked for things to blame it on. She even found them. Deluded, naïve and caught up in her own mental judgement of herself, she continued this way. Those drops of sadness, so brutally dismissed brewed a storm inside her, violently erupting every time she was careless enough to start thinking about things. She became tired. The denial was too exhausting to keep up.
He left to go on holiday. Ten days he would be away. Largely, she was relieved. If he wasn’t there, then she would not have to miss him, then curse herself for missing him when she knew he did not, frankly, have the time to miss her in the same longing way. Relinquishing the newfound space to just be, she gained some perspective. For the first time in a long time, she looked inside herself and realised that she was being too self-critical. She realised it was acceptable to for her light to be dimmed once in a while.
She felt refreshed.
She keeps herself busy, and when she is busy, she maintains a penetrating aura of having her life together. And she feels together. She no longer feels the longing when she is busy, you see, she accepts that this is life, and that this is what life will be for the foreseeable future. She prides herself on her casual acceptance. She relishes the idea of her days being so full that the time rushes by, that she does not feel as though she is waiting for his next visit.
She tells herself that love is not so emotional or irrational. That she is resilient. She has, in her arsenal, the two vital keys to unlock the door to happiness in a long distance relationship. Trust, and communication, she muses, encompassing the general gist of all the internet forums she found herself poking around whilst he was away.
A single day may be all it takes to disrupt her steady breeze through life. Something so small and insignificant triggers a cascade of events, between which she gets caught up in her own emotion again. Fortunately, she takes the lesson from her last episode. That is to say that when she cries at night, she lets herself cry and hugs herself without judgement.
She recalls an article she recently read, about cognitive bias. These are essentially shortcuts, taken by the human brain, in order to make sense of the world around us. One such bias is the way in which we extrapolate events, making assumptions about things where we really have no grasp of the truth. For instance he says ‘I’m so busy’, and she assumes she has tumbled to the bottom of his list of priorities. She feels her heart sink. She stops. All he said was ‘I’m so busy’. She becomes acutely aware that her brain made up the rest in an attempt to read between the harsh message bubbles of whatsapp messenger.
Once again, she has stumbled upon her own irrevocable sense of rationality.
It is absurd, she reflects, that a single human being can have so vast an effect on her. That all it takes now is a few kind or funny words to make her face break into a smile, or the absence of such words to reduce her to tears?
She buries deeper into herself, foraging in her own heart for the root of her problem. She is fearful of relapsing into another episode of relentless tears, fuelled by all that cognitive bias. He can’t help, for what can he do from far away?
She finds herself in the middle of a patch where she is not dreadfully busy. That is when the thoughts pierce into her the most. Before long, she feels insecure. She feels sad that her life lacks purpose, she is adding no value, that she often is not good enough. Worse than this, she begins to feel something else. That he has purpose. He adds value. He is good enough. When he says he’s busy, she believes it. Then the small voice of cognitive bias chips away at her.
“He’s too busy for you”, it says.
She knows that if she finds a time where he is not stressed or exhausted, he will be receptive. He is, after all, wonderful. He will listen and soothe her and make her bubble with laughter, and they will jest about her silliness in a few days. But right now… he’s too busy to be receptive.
“He’s too busy for you”, it says.
I want to extend my hand of love to tell her that she is good enough. She does have purpose. She does add value. And he is not too busy for her- he just doesn’t realise how it’s affecting her because she hasn’t told him properly. The thing is… she won’t believe me.
Why would she believe me when I am her?