‘I just want to be in our new house, getting on with our new life’ (Picture: Neil Webb)
My boyfriend and I are moving to a new city and because of family commitments, I’ve had to stay behind while he goes ahead.
Lockdown has now delayed the reason I’m staying behind, which means I don’t have a date to travel to him.
I now feel in a rut and frustrated about so much of what is happening. I just want to be in our new house, getting on with our new life.
I can struggle to talk about how I feel and long-distance has never appealed. Now it’s been forced on me. What’s your advice?
We have all become less accomplished at waiting.
‘We’re used to high-speed lives, and phones and Zoom calls can create an illusion of closeness that sometimes makes the waiting harder still,’ says James McConnachie.
None of us currently feel in control of our lives but separations have always been difficult because the majority of us are dependent on the physical proximity of the people we care about.
‘While we can manage physical separation from our parents and siblings, it is much harder to manage our anxiety when we are physically separated from our partners,’ says Dr Angharad Rudkin. ‘We worry about coping without them and it also triggers quite intense worries about whether they are going to keep us in mind.’
Because you are someone who struggles to communicate their feelings, these emotions will be bubbling just under the surface and probably manifesting as physical pains, aches, irritability and snappiness.
‘But given that you’ve got so much going for you – a boyfriend who wants you, a new house, a future planned out, a family to who you feel some commitment – I must assume that this anxiety and negativity come very naturally to you,’ says Rupert Smith.
‘Is this a pattern you recognise from your childhood? You struggle to talk about how you feel: have you been surrounded by people that help you feel accepted and understood? As you’ve got time on your hands, follow the thread of this pattern back to its earliest days and see what it reveals.’
Dr Rudkin also suggests practising a technique called decentering, which involves extracting yourself from the current moment and taking on a broader perspective of your life.
‘Imagine a helicopter lifting off and the wider perspective this elevation gives you,’ she explains. ‘This decentering is useful because it helps shift our awareness from our day-to-day lives and see that all our thoughts and feelings are temporary.’
In uncertain times, it’s also a good idea to seek whatever certainties you can: moments with your parents (home-cooked meals?), regular conversations with friends (helping others helps our mental health) and a working date to travel to your boyfriend.
‘All plans have to be adapted to circumstances but that shouldn’t stop us making them,’ says McConnachie. ‘Once your plan is made you can focus on the present, which will help the future arrive much faster.’
- Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychologist
- James McConnachie is the author of Sex (Rough Guides)
- Rupert Smith is an author and counsellor
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