The month of September… the first of the –ember months. It heralds the last quarter of the year, resumes the academic session of primary and secondary schools students… perhaps not this year, with the fear of ebola sitting in classes. Some universities resume their academic calendars too. So, amidst the many things September is known for, it is also the month of goodbyes… the month we let loved ones go because we understand- or try to understand- that they have to grow. Usually the goodbye ends with different variations of the statement “see you soon” or “see you in…. months”. For boarding house students and Nigerian tertiary students, saying it is more perfunctory than necessary; barring all evil. Not so for those travelling out of the country… especially at the tertiary education level. Indeed, for them and their lovers that statement sometimes is said as a question. It goes something like this:
“See you soon… (Pause. Look in the other’s eyes, or look anywhere but in the other’s eyes because there are tears in yours. Then:) right?”
So, what happens when you do not make the “see you soon” statement? Or when you say/hear it, then add “I hope” in your mind, or under your breath? What then? What if when those tears are falling off your lashes what you are thinking is not “I’m going to miss him/her” but “I just lost him/her”? More times, this scenario holds more true for females than males, who fear that they are going to be faced with pressure from their friends and family to get married before he returns; or who know he would not be able to live without sex for too long, so….
Any way it goes: male or female, sure or doubtful, what should you do when you find yourself wondering if s/he would return to your arms?
Yes, I said it. Cry! Cry your eyes out. Cry until you have no energy left in you to squeeze out tears. Cry out your fears, your hopes, your dreams… everything. Preferably do this somewhere you would be alone, where there would be no one disturbing you and telling you about how you would have headaches or you are just having unnecessary fears, bla bla bla…. You know why you should cry? Because you are feeling like your chest is constricting, and breathing is becoming difficult. You are not suddenly asthmatic! It’s emotions constricting your chest because you are feeling alone even though there may be many people around you physically. His/her space is feeling empty…and we know that is a lot of space. You will feel better after that crying jag. Trust me.
DRINK, PLAY A DRAINING SPORT…
Yes Boss, you too are allowed an outlet of your fears and emotions. We know you are missing her, and we also know you are trying hard to not break down and cry because you are a man. Hmph! We do not mind if you go to the bar to try to not think, or if you decide you want to do some boxing practice or race your dog… because none of us wants to get the backlash of your pent up emotions if you do not find some other outlet for them. And if anyone decides to mind, well you don’t mind them.
It’s okay to moon that you don’t get goodnight hugs anymore. It’s even okay to see a snuggly couple and find a betraying tear taking a stroll down your cheek every now and then. What’s not okay is deciding to stay indoors because you don’t want to face any of that. Or staying in all day crying, or leaving things needing you unattended to because you do not have him/her to discuss them with… or because you are busy thinking what is s/he doing right now? That gets old, and it is absolutely unproductive, plus, it is b.o.r.i.n.g! S/he would call or you would communicate someway; and it is most creepy when the person you are with seemingly cannot live without you. That just puts too much pressure on people, and not the good kind of ‘pressure’. Plus, people want to think that the people they are with are strong enough to live without them. So they can have the assurance that if you do get married, their death would not be the end of everything they lived for. And if you do nothing there would be nothing to discuss during communications except “I miss you” “life is so hard without you”… bla bla b.o.r.i.n.g! Do not be boring. Everybody wants to be in the company of interesting people. Even you!
DON’T GET CRAZY
So, you are talking and then you hear a fe/male voice in the background. You hear it the first time, you shrug it off thinking maybe his/her neighbour. Then you hear it another day, and another day. Finally, you ask who it is.
“Ooh! My housemate”
S/he says. Then you see a picture on facebook of him/her with a member of the opposite sex and you think: they are standing rather too close in this picture! Their smiles look rather too intimate! That hold is rather proprietary! But… that’s just the way s/he looks at me after we’ve done the kutchie!
You go on a major rant, ask about it, s/he says it is nothing. However a seed has already been sown in your mind, and you begin to pay crazy attention to e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g! Hunting for clues of you-don’t-know-what and don’t-even-want-to-think-about, because you don’t want to be the-one-who-got-dumped-after-trusting-too-much.
Now, you should not in the first place be with someone if you cannot trust them. So if your ‘other’ says the sun is shining and you have to take a peep through the window to confirm first… then you might need to either walk out of the relationship or deal with the trust issues in that relationship.
Sorry I deviated a little. Where was I?
Yes! Right here: when you get to that point where you find yourself listening more to background sounds when on the phone with him/her than to what s/he is actually saying, then ask yourself this question:
Why do I think (insert lover’s name here) is maybe lying to me?
Preferably, do this someplace you can think; and have a biro and paper with you. Write out all the reasons that have you thinking that someone else is beginning to occupy a special place in your lover’s life. When you are done writing them all out, critically analyse them one after the other. When doing this, you should be on the look-out for if the ‘reasons’ are things s/he has done, or just things in your head. If they are just things in your head (your imaginations, your expectations, your baggage from other relationships- other girls/guys), pppppuuuuhhhhhllllllleeeeaaaasssseeee! Find a way to set your head straight. On the other hand, if they are things s/he has done, you should make out all necessary resources- money, patience, maturity and time- to call, and discuss them. Note pls, I said “discuss”; not “rant about”. I repeat: discuss. Where that word defines talking, listening and understanding; not accusing, judging and crucifying.
It is advisable that you be the one to call so the person does not call and you derail whatever agenda they had for calling you. Also, you calling shows your lover that you consider the observations serious enough to call, strictly to discuss them. Again, I clarify: In ‘discussing’ them, how you discuss matters. Do not call and rant and rave, or scream at the top of your lungs, or throw accusatory statements and insults at your lover. Even in the law court, every accused is innocent until proven guilty. Speak to with your lover with respect, and with reference to the two of you as a team. Use more ‘we’ statements than ‘you’ statements: while the former puts you both on the same side, the later implies the me versus you divide, thus easily sounds accusatory. Seek to clarify, not to accuse.
There are a lot of things that being part of a couple does- one of which being that you live for two, not strictly for yourself. This time, when you are somewhat just you, should be used to do all the healthy things you’ve wanted to do but couldn’t because you were part of a couple. The emphasis on healthy means that you should only do things that you would be able to tell your lover you did. If you do anything you would not be able to tell them, be sure that’s more because of their personal biases than because those things are wrong, or could compromise their trust. ‘Single’ time is exploration time so… explore. If things are shady between you, and trying to clarify them is being met with brick walls, exploring has the added advantage of new experiences and new people. If you want, it could help you meet the next person with whom you can have a wonderful relationship that could culminate into something lasting; if and when you decide that your current, long-distance relationship has run its course for sure.
One thing that keeps relationships together, whether the lovers are physically apart or together, is healthy communication. Healthy communication should be sincere and respectful, not spiteful and bland. There should be no double-edged words when you both are discussing vital matters, there also should be a happy union between the two of you. The advent of e-communication these days makes it so much easier to maintain a long distance relationship without feeling the distance except for the assuaging of physical needs. Get signed on to social platforms you can both utilize to keep the communication between you open- Skype, Whats Ap, BBM, Video chats, E-mail accounts,… the list goes on. Settle for the platforms that are most reasonable for you both in terms of accessibility, affordability, and manageability. When you talk be very sincere with your lover and make your meanings very clear, especially when you are not on video chats. Reason being that your lover cannot see your expressions to tell when you are joking or being sarcastic. Share laughs together… they enrich a relationship, keep you young, and keep you happy. And everybody keeps going to the place where they feel happiest.
ON A FINAL NOTE… before your lover takes the journey to anywhere, have the “where are we headed” talk so you can know if to wait, or if to let go. This discussion is better done in person, when you can look each other in the eyes and iron out all uncertainties with less possibility of getting into angry spaces. They might be harder when face-to-face, but they are much better when face to face. Face to face discussions are richer- you have verbal and non-verbal cues to give you hints and clarify all points. Of course, how you handle the discussion would, to a large extent, determine how sincere your lover would be with you, and the validity of the discussion’s ‘outcomes’.
Need not ask though… I would be back.