A PERSPECTIVE ON LONG DISTANCE LOVE
Our wedding day was hands down the most heart-filling, beautiful day of my life. We were barefoot on the beach in Costa Rica with seventy-five of our friends and family, with flights booked to Bali the following day.
Our first year of marriage, on the other hand, was one of the loneliest. My more-than-necessary alone time that accompanied our long distance relationship created a cloud of unwanted space and emptiness that I, at first, was unsure how to fill.
Eight days before our flight to Costa Rica, I woke up to a phone call from a Nashville, TN number and immediately knew (or at least hoped I knew) exactly who it was. Vanderbilt University was calling to inform me of my acceptance into the MSN program that fall! This program was my #1 choice as well as one of the only schools I had any luck of getting into… So of course I was ecstatic and immediately planning to sprint full-force into Nashville… Matty by my side… Newlyweds taking on Music City. It sounded so… Romantic!
But then… Mature decisions came barging through and stomped on my dream world. Matty had a great job in Boulder and it didn’t make sense for him to drop everything for just one year in Nashville.
So there I was, one week away from the biggest day of my life, about to marry my best friend and soul mate… And three months away from making the biggest move of my life across the country… solo.
THE BLESSING OF THE TIMING
In retrospect, I am so grateful we received this news from Vanderbilt before our wedding day. I remember one week later in Costa Rica, Matty and I sitting in our villa overlooking the ocean, writing our wedding vows… delicately embracing the challenge to be apart for our first year of marriage.
There were tears, to say the least.
We fluctuated in and out of silence and deep thought. Matty strummed the guitar and I finally picked up the pencil to be the “strong one” and jot down a few words. There we were… promising the rest of our lives to each other… ready to celebrate with friends and family the next day… and prepping our hearts to part ways just months later.
WHERE WE ARE TODAY
As I write this, we are 1,100 miles and ten months into our time apart. While it has hands-down been the most challenging year of my life (emotionally, cognitively, physically…) we’re already coming out on top. Long distance love has forced me to gain independence and strength I don’t think I would have ever discovered otherwise. At least not this early into marriage. It has sparked profound confidence in myself and in our future together. We’ve grown to respect and cherish our time apart, our time together, and our friendship has solidified to be unbreakable by time or distance.
Don’t get me wrong, there are aspects that completely sucked along the way, so I can’t preach all rainbows and butterflies.
My biggest struggle has been the loneliness. I have had more than enough of my fair share of alone time, and I still become very frustrated and down about it. There has been a lot of eating alone… sleeping alone… some days I have zero human contact unless I force myself out of the house and over to a coffee shop. And I’m a very social person… So the solitude leads to some major homesickness.
There have been days, sometimes weeks, where I resent my decision to move away from Matty. I knew that this was the right move for my career, but was it the right one for my relationship? The more I’ve come to comprehend realities of life and death by working as a nurse with critically ill patients, the more my heart sinks… and slightly panics… I think about the 300+ days I will have spent away from Matty and how this is precious time I will never get back with him.
Have I been taking advantage of the precious days I have in this life to spend with him? Am I prioritizing my career TOO much??
Not at all. As the months have gone on with being apart, I realize that the soul connection this man and I have is not weakened by distance or time. In fact, it has only gotten stronger. I now have an engrained gratitude for the impact distance has had on our relationship. I am grateful for the impact it has had on me individually, and I’ve fallen more in love with the man he has grown to be. There is a profound, unique bond that we share because of this space, and it is rooted in a realm that’s stronger and greater than love. If that’s even possible.
It has all been worth it. Every second. In fact, I wouldn’t change the past year for anything. I choose to focus on what’s been given to me – rather than what has been taken. I am not a victim of my own circumstance. In fact, I have so much to be grateful for, including this opportunity to spend a year growing closer to Matty, a year getting to know who I am. I have chosen to perceive my loneliness as quality time with introspection… The opportunity to explore my own needs and boundaries… To realize that my independence is culminating in self-efficacy.
I’ve established a deep, sophisticated relationship with Matty that without this experience may have taken years to mature into. More than ever, I’ve come to believe in staying true to who you are in a relationship. Follow your dreams and allow your love to follow his or hers. This is key for personal happiness and to foster a healthy marriage, which in the end, WIN!
“If it were easy, everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.” ~ A League of Their Own
Photos by Joe Friend Photography
Dress by Emma and Grace Bridal