My Boyfriend is Back!

So….drumroll please, my boyfriend is back!! We did it!! We beat the 0% odds that the Peace Corps tells people you can expect if you are in a Long-distance relationship.  So for any of you doubting, or questioning if you can do it–you can, we are proof, and you should create your own success story!!

I would like to take a moment and say how grateful I am–I had an amazing support system the entire time my boyfriend was gone, in so many ways.  People made me feel loved and supported, they helped me when I was drowning a bit in sadness, and ultimately they supported both of us–my friends and family knew us and how much love there was between us and never tried to get me to see other people, or questioned what we were doing.  I think people knowing me, and knowing how I felt about my boyfriend, gave them every reason to help me/us see this through, and just be supportive.  Our families were also amazing–his family especially made me feel incredibly welcome and part of them, which meant so very much to me, and also helped me get to know him a little more, even in his absence.

I also want to mention something my boyfriend did before he left, which honestly, helped me a lot on those days I felt sad or disconnected; my boyfriend gave me a necklace.  It is a beautiful necklace, elegant and simple enough to wear every day, which gave me a daily reminder how much he loves me.  Any time I was feeling sad, I could immediately touch it and think of the love he was feeling for me even oceans away.  He gave it to me before he left, so I would know how much he loved me, and honestly it really did help.  I put it on in the mornings and could think about him, and it was a lovely reminder–even seeing photos of me over the last two years, has me wearing it quite a bit, which is a wonderful way that he made his presence known without even being here.

Also, a quick thank you to any readers of this blog.  Any time, any of you would write saying this blog was helping you feel encouraged in your own long distance relationship with someone in the Peace Corps, it also encouraged me to write more, and share more, which in turn helped me. So thank you!

So my boyfriend is back! He is back in the states, we have been hanging out for the past three weeks with only a couple nights apart, and it has been wonderful.  He is now back with his family for a few days, and I will visit him over the next couple of weekends (it is only a one-hour flight, which is incredible compared to the 30+ hour journeys I had to take the last couple of years).  In February, he is planning to move near me, and get a job in the area.  To answer the question that is typically asked when they hear he is returning, “No, we are not going to live together.” We both made this decision together-there are a few reasons this isn’t for us, mainly we want our relationship to work, and want to give it the best shot at succeeding.  While it would probably be okay living together, and we would adjust, we both get worried about having freakout moments where either or both of us feels smothered, since we have been in our own space for two years.  We also want to adjust to living in the same city, and seeing each other more frequently.  More likely than not, we will still spend most nights together, but it’s just having that option of our own space that we think is a good one to help with our transition into normal coupledom (whatever that means).

So how am I feeling? I love having him back, and having my guy around to hold hands with and go to the movies with.  I couldn’t stop saying “You’re here!!” the first couple weeks he was back–was just so oddly wonderful to have him back in my apartment in person, not just on Skype. Tonight is the first time since he’s been back that I’ve really been alone in my own space.  It feels very familiar to be alone, but I miss him already.  I think having a few days off after being together for the last few weeks will make our hearts grow fonder, and help us both adjust to life in the same country, same state, same place.  Since he returned during the holiday season, there was a lot of balancing family time, which was good but maybe a bit overwhelming for us.  He had a couple of moments where he needed some time, and I had a night where I was feeling a little overwhelmed but we told each other, and got what we needed.  I can again attest to the LDR making me a better communicator.

Even though my boyfriend is no longer in Kenya, I still think I’ll keep this blog for a little while longer, to help process the next few months.  I welcome any updates from any of you also (both good and bad) about your own Peace Corps LDRs–I think it’s good if we all help each other as much as we can.

The Last Month of Peace Corps Service

The last month that your boyfriend or girlfriend is in the Peace Corps can feel kind of rough.  It feels a bit like the training period of their service, except you know the end is in sight, which helps you power through, but also unearths some concerns.  What I mean is that there is less communication, and your volunteer will be extremely busy with COS (close of service), last-minute trainings, and last trips with their volunteer friends–which can make you feel a bit disconnected.   The toughest time in a long-distance relationship is the weekend; it can be lonely, and sometimes gives you too much time just sitting around reflecting, which can be sad and not great for the relationship.  Even though the last month can be really tough, I again tried to look at it like a positive thing–that it was my last month before he got back, so I tried to enjoy every thing that I loved about being by myself as much as possible.  I ate sushi, watched trashy TV, went to the spa, hung out with girlfriends, went hiking with girlfriends–and it was good. The other thing we did before the last month of craziness began, was we had a date weekend–where we made sure not to make other plans (although we both ended up having last-minute things we had to do), BUT we did get a solid day of Skyping in before the last month began, which helped us bond before the sporadic communication time kicked in.

Knowing that the last month was going to be a little tough for me, I called in reinforcements and booked my weekends solid.  My best friend flew in, and we gorged ourselves on sushi, sang karaoke, and set up my new TV.  My sister flew in, and we ate at wonderful restaurants, visited the fashion district, saw a movie and went to a couple comedy shows. On another weekend, I went to Disneyland with a girlfriend, had dinner with my boyfriend’s family, and hung out at a lovely brunch with girlfriends all Sunday afternoon.  The last weekend before he was to come home, I had one of my local girlfriends come over on Saturday (after the cleaning lady had left–super good decision), and we went over my crazy wish list of things I wanted to have done before he got back the following week–my friend looked at the list and said, “When did you want to get all this done by??”  Needless to say, we didn’t get everything done, but we did get a lot done, and she kept me sane for my last weekend alone, by just being around and making me laugh.

Writing all of this and thinking how in some ways, it is similar to the training period…I really don’t know if I would recommend the “keeping busy” approach to the first couple of months that your boyfriend or girlfriend is away.  I mean, I think it’s good to, of course, have other things to do besides pining for your boyfriend or girlfriend, but I also think the first couple of months when he or she is gone, it’s important not to distract yourself too much, you need to take that time to remind yourself that even though he (or she) is far away, and maybe not around as much as you like, that they are with you, and you are with them.  Maybe a tad cheesy, but I think it really helped me to miss my guy in those first couple of months and write in my journal as though he were here, it helped me feel connected.

Even though the last month is rough, the end is in sight, so my biggest piece of advice is that if anything is bothering you both, or you feel arguments coming up–try to prevent them if possible, as it might be better for actions and reactions to happen after you are both in the same place.  Distance makes things harsher in a lot of ways, so be as nice, patient, supportive and loving to each other as much as possible.